Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I apologize. Again.
People compliment me on my looks the same way they talk about the weather to start small talk. I get a lot of metaphors: “she’s got eyes like polished chestnuts.” “A skin like peach, the color of oak leaves in the Fall.” “A mouth like an oasis from the Arabian Nights,” Don Hernando said once. They’re all similes, actually. The women in the pueblo, however, don’t bother with that kind of poetry. “She’s got some secret admirer from Monterrey who brings her silks and perfumes from the East.” “I’ll widow myself before I see my husband talking to her.” “Have you seen the silver hairs on her head?” Yes, I’ve got some silver in my hair. It’s one of the few visible signs of my age. I wish I had more of those. And less of the silks and perfumes, which I have no use for. I’ve got a whole cabinet filled with trinkets like that. All from the gentlemen of the pueblo.
I have no friends. No confidantes to unburden my sorrows, no companions to gossip with while knitting or washing my clothes at the river. But I’ve got plenty of suitors. They try to buy me with presents. They bring me flowers, everyday. A few stop by my house on the weekends, bringing novelties from their travels. And promises. Always promises. They want to marry me and move to the coast. Some even talk about going to Spain. “You’ll never have to work again, Isabella. You’ll have your own villa, with servants of your own. Luxury! Travels! We’ll go to the opera, swim in the Mediterranean, sup with counts, dine with dukes. You’d live like royalty, if only you were my queen.” To all of them I give a humble smile, and politely decline. I don’t need the silks. I’ve got no use for the opera. I don’t want my own villa. I just want to grow old where I was born, in the company of my people. Some logs in the stove and a pillow to rest my head is all I ask for.
I wish I was ugly. Plain. Just a face in the crowd.
(Curtain opens to an airport waiting area. On a seat sits a man late 40s dressed in a suit pretending to read the business section of a newspaper. His face has a blank stare. Enter second business man that sits next to him one chair down)
Twenty years. Two Hundred and forty months. Nine hundred and sixty weeks. Six thousand seven hundred and twenty days…I’ve worked for this company for twenty years, I’ve seen exactly forty eight of the 50 states, Ive been to Europe and Asia approximately eighty times. Not once in those twenty years have I ever done something spontaneous, not once did I just hang out with the guys from the office after work and have a beer, not once did I ever feel in charge of myself..but whos counting? There’s something in a number, something that draws me to its every curve, every angle, every possible meaning in life. My life IS numbers. Its coded in numbers, made by numbers, fed by numbers, held by numbers. A prisoner in my head to the sequences of zeros and ones all around me…nothing exists out of place. The ants of humanity roam around the face of this earth to serve the zeros and ones.
(All noise and movement stop completely; people freeze in place as the man next to him reaches into his briefcase and pulls out scissors and a credit card. He sets the scissors down next to him and closes his eyes as they come to life. He dangles the card above them, like a piece of meat. The scissors snip at the card.)
How does he do this? Its not part of the artificial world created by the zeros and ones. It cant be real!
(the other business man looks him in the eye and smiles as he puts his hand in the shape of a gun to his head and pretends to pull the trigger. As he does the lights go out and come back on. The noise and bustling returns but the man is now gone.)
This is impossible; nothing adds up, no sets of zeros and ones created this. Its an abomination, imaginary!...The imagination is the death to all sense of logic, all creation. They cant know what Ive seen. Its not supposed to exist.
(He goes back to his newspaper but suddenly stops and frantically grabs his briefcase opens it to find two scissors and his work report, he places the scissors on the seat next to him and holds the papers in his hands)
If you are the death of all this then so be it. Set me free, let me start over. I want to start over in a world with no zeros and ones, kill everything that holds me prisoner in my mind! I want to be able to imagine, to live.
(He closes his eyes as he feeds the paper to the scissors. The lights turn off then on again. The setting is different, hes at home. In his hands are a pair of scissors and small bits of paper strewn across the floor. The Man drops the scissors and screams as he puts his hands to his eyes and falls to the ground)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Mr. John B. Butler:
[Enter stage facing a crowd of cheering people]
No. I know what you’re thinking and no. Don’t look at me that way. I am not who you think I am.
No. I am not even related to any branch of their party. No.
I don’t give a damn how much you think I resemble John C. Riley, I am not him. And for the ten billionth time I am in no way related to Will Ferrell either, okay? Jesus!
Give a man a break, will you? I mean… I am still a person aren’t I? No. Not to you right? You take interest for five measly seconds, just long enough to tell if I am who you think I am, and then you walk away forever when you realize I am not. My God! It just pisses me off you know?
What? Are you kidding me? No! I will damn well NOT sing Walk Hard!
I swear to God lady, if you ask me where my Jazz flute is one more time, I will shove my jazz flute so far up your…
Beat. Oh… no sir, I wasn’t talking to your wife. I was talking to the woman behind your wife.
Yes sir, I do apologize. Yes sir, she is a wonderful angel. You both have a blessed and wonderful day.
Beat. You know what I wish for more than anything in the world? That I had just taken that damn Walk Hard: The Story of Dewey Cox gig. Man, what was I thinking?
“Ruin, my reputation” I said! I said I needed a “real role”, and next thing you know where do I end up? At the Sundance Film Festival for playing a gay retard, in a movie about Indian Reservations and what I thought was sure to be the next Brokeback Mountain meets Forest Gump doesn't win shit, meanwhile, Riley and Ferrell, are winning a God Damn Golden Globe, for Best Comedy of the Year for spoofing the shit out of Johnny Cash!
More than anything in the world I wish I could do that over. What the hell was I thinking?
Beat. Excuse me? What did you just say to me sir? Did you just ask me for more cowbell? Your ass is dead!
[Dive into audience and Exit Stage]
Why are they staring at me like this? I don't want to play conquistador here at the Zócalo. It is so hot in this big costume. But I had to find a new job, I did not sell enough money on the metro. Pedro, the distributor, didn't want to give me more CDs because I didn't sell them. I am just not the guy to talk to all the people. I am sure, the foreigners watching our costume play do not know what this battle was about. They laugh and they have so much money. First, I thought, this must be better than to sell the same CDs everyday in the metro. My feet hurt so much after running around for 11 hours every day. And I could not stand listening to the music anymore. The singers, they tell of true love and the pain of being left. Do they know about the real problems, about the real world?
Mother cannot work since 5 months now. She is laying in bed all the time, father cries and sometimes, at the weekend, he drinks mezcal. He never did that before. We five pray everyday that my mother is getting better. We work hard, everday, for the money for her medication, even Lupita and she cannot even read. I never did anything bad, and mother became so sick.
Her skin shows dark spots, we kids were not supposed to see it, but I saw it, when father left the door open to bring her new sheets. Why can't I be one of those blonde, happy foreigners with pockets full of pesos? Pendejos. Gringos. They laugh and lay on the beach, drinking cervezas. What did my family do wrong, why did mother get so sick? Does god really care about our prayers everynight? Everyday, I do this show four times beside the Catedrál metropolitana. And still mother is worse and worse.
But maybe I am not the problem. Maybe one of the others did something wrong. Maybe father punched someone, when he was drunk. I heard people do that in the bar, in the "Esquina". And I don't know about the others, we have different jobs now. Manuelito, Lupita and Conrado. Maybe Conrado stole some food in the mercado? But, oh god, he is just always so hungry. He didn't mean to. Oh, Ricardo waves, I have to get back into our formation. Man, I hope mamá will get better. This is the last play we do today - and the first thing I want to do at home is to put my feet into icecold water . . .
It’s official. (Looks at piece of paper in hand.) Ship date: November 7. It’s happening. (Beat.) This is what I’ve always wanted, right? My dad did it, his dad did it. Hell, my son will probably do it. (Beat.) If I ever have a son.
Afghanistan. That’s cool, right? I bet it’s pretty badass over there. I’ll get to fight. Maybe kill someone. (Beat.) The last time I saw her she asked me if I thought I’d ever kill a man. I think I could do it. (Looks to the head of the bed.) I looked down at her lying in the crook of my arm and I said, ‘Yes, I think I will.’
Here’s my chance. But something doesn’t feel right. (Beat.) I don’t think I want to go. I’m not afraid to go. I’m not afraid to kill. To watch someone die. To die. I’m not a pussy. It’s just…I’m afraid to come back. What if it’s different? What if it’s gone? (Beat.) I just got her to talk to me again and now I’m leaving for a year. How the hell is this supposed to work? (Beat.) You wanna know what I think? I think that if she’s as smart as I know she is, she’ll find someone else.
What the fuck am I saying?! (Throws hands up in frustration.) If I come back and she’s with someone else, I’ll shoot them both. (Beat.) I just want her to be here. (Glances at a calendar on the wall.) By the time I come home, she’ll have long been out of school. She’ll be home where she belongs. Maybe teaching high school English. Or working at the newspaper. Maybe she’ll wait for me. (Beat.)
Because for the last time, I want her to give me a second chance.
Today, I stopped in the rec-room for a little while between classes and played foosball with a handful of acquaintances. I'd like to think I let them win most of the matches, but really they ran circles around me; I haven't played in about a year now. I've lost whatever it is that makes you win these little tabletop games. Competetive spirit? Skill? Pride? I rely only on habit - it's what keeps me in college, aside from whatever money my parents cough up. For me, something like a game of foosball takes something else - something that doesn't come with me.
My brother, Tim.
When you're a kid, all you have are habits, really. At least that's the way it was for me - I always study, I play only when I'm sure I have my work done for my classes then next day, I keep clean, I sleep early. That's how Tim was, that's how I was, that's how my mother had a good job at Texaco as some sort of executive, and why we lived away from our father, who wouldn't have had the discipline to raise us. According to mom, at least, the women who spent most of his monthly checks on babysitters while she worked overtime.
But Tim and I were close - we were the model children and we were proud of it. We would be the ones the drug awareness videos touted with their rugby shirts all tucked in nicely with a belt around our waist and good haircuts. We'd do our homework together in the furnished attic so we could leave the babysitters downstairs to raid our fridge and call their boyfriends while we finished all our schoolwork, and then built giant train tracks and towers of blocks that stretched clear to the ceiling. And whenever there was anyone else to play with, we'd go together - you would think we were twins.
Then there was our father. I never knew him, he divorced mother while she was pregnant and Tim was three. So naturally, he was only ever interested in Tim when he seldom came to visit for an awkward reunion. I never thought much of him - I don't know if I should have - but when Tim started visiting our dad's house in the summer for days at a time, I didn't know what to think at all.
The first time I barely spent any time with my friends at all, there didn't seem much of a point without Tim. For a week I skulked without much to do, wondering why dad didn't just come here instead since mom was missing all the time anyway. Tim, of course, came back though, but when he did, he didn't wear the nice shirts mom had bought us, he wore jerseys and gym shorts. He talked tougher, used words I hadn't heard before... he didn't want to play with blocks or puzzles. He wanted to play video games. He wanted to play sports. He wanted to ride his new bike.
I was overwhelmed. But naturally, I tried to sink in. We'd study in the furnished attic, then he'd take me out to the empty garage and try to teach me wallball. I thought it might be fun at first, I thought I ran pretty fast in my sneakers, but let's just be plain - I sucked. It was obvious to me, and when it became obvious to him, he wouldn't play it with me, he'd play it with everyone else.
That was just the beginning of course. He learned to ride a bike at six; I couldn't get off training wheels until I was nine. He came back from dad's one year with a Nintendo 64, and when we took turns playing Mario, I died so quickly and he played so well that it was like I was just watching him play to amuse myself. When he was nine, he came back with a soccerball, and I never even got a chance to learn to play because he was inseperable from it for a year. Then it was the skateboard, and I kept falling and scratching myself until my mother told me I wasn't supposed to ride it, only Tim who could hop it into the air and twist like he was being held by invisible hands.
He soon had so many things that he begged mom to make the office into a room so he could have his own room with his own things in it, and soon, when I would go up to the attic to play, he would stay in his room and play on his own. He'd make me come down to it if he wanted to play with me, but it always seemed like he wanted to prove he could beat me. So, as I grew wiser, I thought I'd make him do something more constructive, so I insisted on making him play with Lego bricks again with me, but even then, he'd mistify me building robots and cars with all sorts of contours with the studs pointing in every direction, while I found myself stuck with blocky, soulless towers. I think I heard him say "crap" for the first time when he told me what the things I made looked like.
I thought I'd find a talent of my own that he shared no interest in. I joined band, hoping that soon, I might have a smooth, shiny french horn all to myself in my own room so it wouldn't be just all the old toys. By the time I was in seventh grade, I had earned myself a gold at the dreaded solo and ensemble contest. I thought I was really great - Tim played the drums, but I could play, as my private lesson teacher insisted, a real instrument. I thought one day start a band of my own and be the first rock star who played french horn.
Then I got braces. That ruined it - the french horn was out - I had no embouchure. I was ruined. I had to play percussion if I wanted to stay in band. But by that time I was in High School, and lo and behold, there was Tim, suddenly first chair drummer, and there was me, last. I wouldn't have resented it so much if he hadn't told me, "Wow, you suck!" to my face. I might not have quit band either considering dad's checks paying the private lessons.
But he did say it. One day during his senior year, we were playing foosball on the table our father had bought that had been placed in the attic. By the time he had flawlessly won his second game in a row without me scoring on him once, he told me he was bored of playing if I was just going to play so poorly. He would have got up from the table right then if I hadn't suddenly shouted at him, "Maybe if you didn't practice all fucking summer at our dad's house with all of dad's fucking gifts I'd be able to beat you once or twice."
He turned and told me that it's just because I suck, and I shouldn't throw a hissy-fit at him. I told him that he ought to learn to not be such a conceited bastard. Then I threw the foosball at him. I missed. And he just laughed, and said "Wow, you suck! I mean, shit, you never cease to surprise me with the things you're no damn good at. You can't play drums, you can't play sports, you can't play this game, and you can't hit me with the little foosball from across the table!"
He was putting the foosball back on the table, just a foot away from me. So I hit him. I punched him in the face. I knocked the wind out of his chest. I pushed him to the floor, and kicked him once. Then I pushed the foosball table over, letting the side cave in.
Then I buried myself in my room and started studying for school. I haven't stopped since.
It's been almost two years now since he finished school and left town. I hear he works for dad now. He's probably the best at everything now. I heard mom complain about his speeding tickets over the phone. When I bother to play foosball with people, I, of course, can't help but think about that last time I really spoke to him, or yelled at him. Nor can I forget that I fixed the foosball table and tried so desperately to be better than him so that one day we could have a more civil conversation. I'd give anything to be able to beat him at something. To challenge him to a game. To beat him. To be able to talk civilly. To say I'm sorry and that maybe we'll be able to play together now, even if he'll talk circles around me about everything else.
But what I really want are those summers back. So he could have been with me. So that I could have been there. So that we could be on the same page instead of less like family every day. But that, of course, is neither here nor there.
I'm sitting down and telling myself that everything's going to be OK. I don't think that it will be, but that doesn't matter right now. I want to be like the other girls in school. They're able to run around with boys and wear clothes and make-up that hides their true being. I don't want to act like I like being independent and different and unique, because I know that I'm lying to myself. I know that those girls don't have to swallow their ideas and feelings so as to not be labeled as a "loser." It's only because everyone likes them, and if expressing any thoughts of being interesting and smart is "in," then they'll say anything to get attention. If I say something interesting or smart, then I get ridiculed or ignored for being obnoxious and a "know-it-all." For once, I don't want people to shun me from the group. I want them to take me seriously. It's not enough that my small group of friends respect me.
I don't want to be different. As horrible and ridiculous as that sounds, I don't want to be different. Honestly, being different in high school may lead to being alone. I don't want to be alone, I want my voice heard. I don't want to be invisible. I want to leave this place with the courage that I won't be treated out there the same way I'm treated in here.
I want sit down and smile to myself. I want to tell myself it will be OK. And I want to believe it.
I am asking because from the sounds of those who read you seemed you accomplished a lot, and almost everybody looked as though they were working diligently. So what how do you all write like that? I mean how do you just jump in and commit to an idea? Any tips? Because honestly, it takes me so much thinking before I finally commit so any advice I would greatly appreciate.
Over what we worked on last class, I really felt that putting plays in a page was an eye opening experience personally. I am sure it doesn't apply to everyone but to me the idea of completing a full story of play seems like such a production. When we broke it down it helped me see that in actuality. Writing a play is just the same as telling a quick story.
I mean if you can think of legitimate problem and someway of resolving it for better or worse you essentially have a play. That easy! lol So that was definitely the part of last class that stands out most to me!
Dark stage; A hanging lamp (interrogation room style) is turned on by M; center stage, addressing audience.
Imagine this: you wear a tailored Armani suit. From the Fall 2009 Collection. In 2008. Imagine your shoes cost enough to feed a family of 6 in Burundi for three years. Imagine that these shoes can't be worn in most developed nations without the World Wildlife Federation protesting on your every step. Imagine the holidays are a nightmare because you have to decide which of your 3 summer houses you'd rather spend it at. Imagine you throw in a couple of yachts into the equation. Imagine having 8 bank accounts. Imagine 5 accountants slaving over your books for those accounts. Imagine 2 more Swiss accounts that only you slave over. Imagine a life without family ties. Imagine never having to make a reservation. Ever. Imagine a private jet flight halfway across the world is more common than a drive to the grocery store. Imagine having all of this by the time you're 28. I'd imagine you'd be pretty satisfied with your life. Now imagine you're not. Imagine you hate everyone around you. Imagine you've been faking a smile for so long you even fool yourself sometimes. Imagine even you're not sure what your real name is. Imagine your longest relationship lasted 10 days. Imagine it ended because, as you found out, there are things even hookers won't do. Imagine feeling like the only moment of true, uncensored, orgasmic bliss could come by putting a bullet between the eyes of the people you hate the most. By your standards, just about every person on the planet qualifies. Now imagine you get to. (Lights up on a man, bound, gagged, and blindfolded sitting DR in boxers and an undershirt. Addressing the man) Imagine you get paid to. Imagine not knowing where the orders come from or who writes your checks, just imagine a stranger walking up to you with a manila envelope with 2 numbers on it: yours, 2619M; and a date. Imagine the date represents an expiration date: either theirs (your target) or your own. Imagine having to make that choice: kill of be killed. For you, I imagine, this could present some sort of moral dilemma. Now imagine you never learned the meaning of moral. (M takes out a gun and attaches a silencer) Can you picture all of that? Nod if you have a good mental image of the kind of person you'd be. (the seated figure nods) Good. I wanted you to know me. It seemed only fair.
M points the gun at the figure, pulls the string to turn the lamp off. Blackout.
Lights up on Vince chugging/emptying beers. Knock on door.
VINCE: John! Long time no see! I’m excited to see your film.
JOHN: Hi Vince! Thanks! Where's Leah?
VINCE: We broke up. She thinks I'm a dick with unresolved violent issues.
JOHN: Well you do need to grow up a bit.
VINCE: You wanna get high? (JOHN gives VINCE "a look." VINCE pulls out weed and papers, rolls a joint. He also produces some coke. He smokes in silence)
VINCE: Amy Randall is in town.
JOHN: Every time you get high we fight about Amy Randall. Look, I'm sorry we had sex after you all broke up.
VINCE: You raped her!
JOHN: This is ridiculous. I'm leaving.
VINCE: You're not going anywhere until you admit it! Rapist!
JOHN: Alright, I pinned her arms down and stuck my dick in. (VINCE walks over to his bag and produces the tape)
JOHN: You asshole! You're not going to show that to anyone.
VINCE: I might. I might not. (The phone rings) Oh! (On the phone) Hi Amy...yes...we still on...can you pick me up?...see you soon. She'll be here in five minutes. (After doing a line of coke) Feel free to leave while you still can.
JOHN: Not without that tape! (They fight. There's a knock at the door)
VINCE: (answering it) Hi Amy! Look who showed up. It's our old pal.
JOHN: This is ridiculous; I'm getting out of here.
VINCE: (Holding up the tape) It’s your call John. (JOHN exits)
AMY: What was that about?
VINCE: I got him to admit to me that he raped you.
AMY: What?! You're ridiculous. I'm leaving. (Goes to the door) And he didn't rape me. (Knock at the door. AMY answers. Its JOHN)
JOHN: I came back to say I'm sorry. For doing what I did.
AMY: And what is it you think you did.
JOHN: I raped you.
AMY: No you didn't.
VINCE: I'm confused.
JOHN: I'm confused.
AMY: This is so childish. (Amy dials 911) Hi, this ADA Amy Randall. Send an officer to the Motel 6. There are substantial illegal substances and a man who has just confessed to rape. Thank you. (Hangs up) You've got four minutes.
VINCE: Fuck! Lets go, man!
JOHN: No. I'm staying. It's the right thing to do.
VINCE: Suit yourself. (Goes to the door. Rethinks) Fuck! (Flushes away the drugs, destroys the tape. Silence)
AMY: I didn't really call the cops.
VINCE: You bitch!
AMY: Goodbye boys. It was nice to...
She exits without completing her line. JOHN is left standing, vacant. VINCE is on the floor, defeated. They look at each other. Silence.
HAMLET in One Page
BERNARDO: (enters w/HORATIO) There is an apparition you must see!
HORATIO: I don’t believe in ghosts! (Ghost of KING HAMLET appears) Ah! The ghost of the dead King Hamlet. This must be a warning. We must tell the Prince. (Court Enters)
CLAUDIUS: In my brother’s death, I have married his widow, Gertrude. Let us celebrate!
LAERTES: I wish to return to France.
HAMLET: I’m more depressed than my black clothes.
CLAUDIUS: Don’t be such a baby. I am thy father now; when I die thou shalt be king!
GERTRUDE: Hamlet, I wish thee closer to home; closer to me.
HAMLET: (reluctantly) Fine… (All but HAMLET exit in festive banter) Life sucks.
HORATIO: We have seen your father’s ghost. You must come with us. (All exit)
LAERTES: (Enters with OPHELIA & POLONIUS) You cannot love Hamlet! I am off to France!
OPHELIA: But I love him!
POLONIUS: Son, be good in France. Daughter, you cannot love Hamlet.
OPHELIA: Fine… (All exit. HAMLET and HORATIO enter; GHOST appears)
GHOST: Twas an evil murder that rid me. Avenge me. Kill thy uncle. Swear!
HAMLET: I will father! I swear!
OPHELIA: (enters with POLONIUS; aside) Hamlet is mad!
POLONIUS: It must be love sickness. I shall tell the King at once!
HAMLET: I am not mad! Only sometimes. And often sad. (aside) I will put on a play to catch the King in his own guilt. Horatio, thy keen eye is needed. (Enter CLAUDIUS) If only suicide were easy, because life is hard and if I could choose…
OPHELIA: Hamlet, let me return the love thou have shown me.
HAMLET: I never loved you! And yet I do. And don’t. But do. Yet won’t. Ah! (exits)
CLAUDIUS: Clearly the boy is disturbed by more than matters of love.
HAMLET: (returning with PLAYERS) The play is to begin.(PLAYERS act; others watch)
CLAUDIUS: Poison in the ear! Ah! (runs away; ALL but HAMLET/HORATIO follow)
HORATIO: Tis clear his guilt is too much for him to bear.
HAMLET: I shall tell my mother and show her the errors of her ways. (THEY exit)
CLAUDIUS: (alone, prayer) Oh what have I done? My words repent, but my soul moves on. HAMLET: (enters with GERTRUDE; POLONIUS spies) Mom, a whore thou hast been!
GERTRUDE: What? No! I do not understand. Somebody help!
HAMLET: Who hides there? (stabs POLONIUS) Oh no! I must go, but believe me, I am not mad! I have seen my father’s ghost. He told me he was murdered by thy new husband!
CLAUDIUS: What have thou done? You must leave for England at once. Guildenstern, Rosencrantz, ensure his voyage. (ALL exit) Tis sad to think that though he ships to England, he marches to his doom. (Loud noise is heard) What was that?
LAERTES: (enters; rage) My father is dead and thyne sister mad. I will have vengeance!
CLAUDIUS: Listen boy. Thy revenge shall be swift, but on those that bear the blame. Listen to me: Hamlet will return in the morrow; thy right is in thy sword.
LAERTES: A sharpened sword, a poisonous blade, will in duel a lethal weapon make.
CLAUDIUS: And if the first blow be his, a poisoned wine will be his prize.
GERTRUDE: (frantically running in) Thy sister has ended her grief in eternal waters.
HAMLET: (enters, hearing the last line) Ophelia is dead?
LAERTES: Hamlet arrives, in time to see the sum of the misery he has brought upon my house. A duel!
HAMLET: It is in your right. But I offer my forgiveness; twas not I but madness that took your father. (They fight; HAMLET gets the first hit wins the first two bouts)
GERTRUDE: I shall toast to my son’s victory! (drinks) Hamlet! Tis poison! (dies)
HAMLET: Mother! (distracted, LAERTES manages to strike) You bastard! (takes sword from LAERTES and strikes him down)
LAERTES: Twas the King that poisoned thy mother and this blade. We both shall die.
HAMLET: (charges at King) AH! (falls to floor b/c of poison) Horatio…tell my story…(ALL DIE)
Ahh... these chairs are awesome. I need to get some of these for my house... What were we talking about? Oh, right. The tour’s going– it’s going, man, you know what I’m saying? Yeah... it’s pretty awesome having all those people at the shows screaming out your name... and it’s like, maybe I’m somebody after all, maybe there really is something I can do... I mean, you have these moments in a show where you’re like, wow, is this for real? I’m on a stage in front of thousands of people and they’re all going nuts... and the girls, man, the girls! Sorry, dude, is the smoke bugging you? My mom's always on my back about that...
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
A LITTLE BACKGROUND: The picture i received in class was of a female firefighter. Her face was dirty with soot but she was very pretty. She hose in hand she was putting out a fire, the flames could be seen against the dark night sky. She wore a full suit and had a red helmet, she was looking over her shoulders as if she were reminiscing. She was in fact very graceful. SO HERE IS HER MONOLOGUE! i hope you enjoy
You know he died in a fire.
My fiancée’ that is. We met in the New York Ballet Company.
Jacob was a Harvard Grad and was on his way to medical school when he realized his passion for dance.
I had been dancing for two years with the Company when Jacob joined.
I remember when he walked into the studio’s fine polished oak doors. He was so busy smiling and
looking around he tripped on the extension cord, laughed and made some smart remark.
I forget what he said, but I can never forget his laugh. I would give anything in the world to hear his
It gave me strength, it still gives me strength.
The strength to dance, the strength to breathe, the strength to step into the flaming fire and have
scorching heat strike my face…. I became a firefighter because of Jacob,
to save lives that have been so full, and to save those that haven’t had the chance.
This may be the strongest imitation of life. I can agree with Aristotle's understanding of a human's love for imitation and harmony. It is a way that we as humans can make sense of the chaotic nature of our lives. We as individuals create our own path. That isn't necessarily a plot, is it?
I think we said nothing can come before the beginning, but a beginning has to lead up to something (the middle and end.) We gave an example of a play starting with someone breaking a leg on a train. Then someone said that to break their leg on the train, they would have to board the train. But somehow that was not a great example of a beginning, it was whoever said "the character's alarm clock ringing" was a better example. I don't understand because I think unless the character is a newborn baby, he will always have some part of their life that happens before the play starts. And why is an alarm ringing significant? This beginning sounds a little boring to me. Why couldn't the story have begun as the character was having a nightmare the night before his leg broke?
Is the idea that the most important part of the character's life should be the climax of the play, and the beginning should be what must lead up to this climax?
Now I'll change the subject--
While Aristotle has some great ideas, I find it odd that we listen to a scientist to help us define what makes art "good," then again, most things are both science and art, so in a way, where would we be without a scientific mind like his? I suppose if he hadn't classified it, someone else would.
I am on board with his admiration of tragedy, I know the best plays and movies I have seen feature many sad and serious events. I think it's therapeutic to see other people's trials and how they overcome or succumb to them. They make sense of our lives for us and make us feel less alone. Still, I'm not sure I want to write tragedy in this class, and I think other genres can be equally effective in moving an audience...
I don't exactly agree with how he ordered Plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, and Melody because sometimes a song moves me more than a spectacle. I've seen characters on a screen doing nothing more than talking, and with the background music added, the scene takes on new life--life that it would not have with some sort of spectacle. I think sometimes the song can be a spectacle as well, even though no examples of this are jumping out at me.
And to go back on what I've just written, I realized that one part of my notes says melody comes before spectacle, and another part says melody comes after spectacle, so maybe that last paragraph does not apply. (The internet is similarly confused about this order.)
In the middle of her Chekov post, I think Lily wrote exactly what I was trying to write about what good theater is to me--"In our privacy, in our music, in movie theatres, in dance halls, and, yes, of course, in theatres, we lose ourselves, find ourselves, and go to the most amazing places." So thank you, Lily!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Aristotle says there are six things that are most important for a play : (1) Plot and ACTION, (2) Character, (3)Thought (WHAT is said) (4) Diction (HOW it is said) (5) Song and (6) Spectacle.
For the most part I find myself in agreement with the order of his list. There is just one area in which my opinion differs. I think character should come first on the list above all else. If we look at our lives as a play, we don't know where we are going until we find out who we are. Whenever I write a play or my books I keep this in mind and I always come up with a main character first. I find out his name, origin, interests, and personality. The character tells the plot, comes up with thought, diction, song and spectacle. He takes you on this journey and introduces you to his friends and tells you his problems and you help him find the solution. He speaks and his origin decides diction. Sound and spectacle then follow naturally. You see how things should look and sound. When I write something I never know what is going to happen. The story unearths itself and I merely copy it down.
Aristotle also says in our plays we imitate noble things and basic things. I also believe that after the character presents you with the plot of the play these two things are embedded within. The character tells you his life which is full of basic things, and if your character is a protagonist then noble things are in his being and if he is the antagonist, his nemesis must be noble and therefore those two bases are covered.
Those are kind of just my thoughts on what I find to be important when I am writing.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
First, imitation. What is it in humans that so enjoys watching people pretend to do things that they themselves do every day? Let's imagine for a moment a scene in a play where an actor cooks dinner and sets the table. If it's done in a manner comparable to reality, with all the quirks and habits and idiosyncrasies that mark human behavior, we buy into the story and at the same time objectively say, "Well done." If two characters have an argument on stage and one of them starts to cry, I know I for one am impressed that the actor is crying "real tears" and at the same time feel sympathy for the character. Perhaps it is because for a few brief moments we see ourselves in the actors and can take an objective view of how we really are. Imitation reminds us of the universal traits of humanity, never more so than when the actions on stage are very specific.
On the other hand, we also immensely enjoy watching people imitate a reality that we ourselves will probably never experience (and these types of stories tend to pop up pretty frequently in theater and literature.) For example, the revenge story, where we watch the wronged hero take his long-awaited revenge on the dastardly villain. It's very satisfying, especially for those of us who have some deep-seated grudges that need to be disposed of. Then, the love story, where the lovely heroine is swept off her feet and rescued from peril by the gallant knight (more often figuratively than not). Inevitably, we identify ourselves with one of the characters to vicariously experience the fairy tale. And as the actors imitate "what may happen", we find ourselves secretly imitating the imitators in life, who in their turn imitate us.
Friday, January 23, 2009
“Imitation” is the most common translation of what Aristotle called mimesis. That translation is also debatable. Chapter IV of the Poetics gives the following explanation:
Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity: such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead bodies.
It’s easy to take that “minute fidelity” for granted. However, the very beginning of the Poetics argue that all art is imitation, including music and dance:
(…) even dancing imitates character, emotion, and action, by rhythmical movement.
(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1974/1974-h/1974-h.htm#2H_4_0003. Emphasis added.)
Anyone can judge quite easily whether the representation of a likeness or an action is faithful – you can look a portrait and say it doesn’t resemble the person, or watch/read something “based on a true story” and find out it was only loosely based. But how do you judge the fidelity of the representation of an emotion? Take jealousy, for instance. Both Othello and Tape represent jealousy in different ways, and both plays have enjoyed popular and critical success. Which is the most faithful?
There’s more to mimesis than mere fidelity. Perhaps the theory in the Poetics is that representation doesn’t need to be realistic, but believable – which ties in with the idea that “it is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened, but what may happen” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1974/1974-h/1974-h.htm#2H_4_0011). Other passages in the Poetics show more concern with some criterion of propriety instead of fidelity. Chapter II, for instance, ends with the classical distinction that “Comedy aims at representing men as worse, Tragedy as better than in actual life” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1974/1974-h/1974-h.htm#2H_4_0004). Not “as they are” in actual life.
Now, I can’t read Greek, but I’m convinced that fidelity is not so black-and-white in the Poetics, and that “imitation” is a very imprecise translation for mimesis. I could argue further, but then I would have to write a long, boring academic paper. And perhaps learn Greek. For now, I only want to argue that when someone says “Aristotle says this-and-that”, the truth is more likely to be “Professor So-and-So wrote that Kant said that Boileau believed that Horatio thought Aristotle meant this-and-that”. We're playing a two-thousand-year-old game of Broken Telephone, really. It’s best to make up your mind by actually reading the Poetics (it’s only forty pages long, anyway).
WHY ARE PEOPLE INCAPABLE OF DOING THIS??
It's a joke, right? We put on this blindfold and we walk around a familiar building pretending it's somewhere else with a mysterious narrator at our right ear. I had fun! And I was a zebra and I shook hands with a stranger at the command of my narrator, but at the end of the day, I knew where I was and I felt a little silly and I wasn't really in it, because, for some reason, at childhood we lose the ability to do it and it is so terribly, terribly sad.
And then I thought about this and now I think I lied. I think it's not true. Ok, so maybe I can't make myself believe I'm in Afric-artica when I'm still trying to wrap my head around being in Austin, Texas. But, I CAN do other things. For example, right now I'm listening to music and let me tell you, I'm right there. In our privacy, in our music, in movie theatres, in dance halls, and, yes, of course, in theatres we lose ourselves, find ourselves, and go to the most amazing places.
Let's remember that when it feels like grown-ups can't play in their imaginations.