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“but i was disappearing, i was melting into the footpath” “yeah, i’ve heard it before”

i have tried many things

writing about regret the next day
photos of my face
descriptions of the pain in the shower on my slapped cheekbones or cut up legs
passages about why i am grateful i didn’t end things
reminders of the fluctuations of feelings
drawings of beautiful moments and how they did happen
journal entries of how i am improving, about how i am strong, about how at moments i feel like i am my pre-sick self, capable of anything

and yet

yesterday, again
i believed the world was a jigsaw puzzle
getting pulled apart, getting thrown back into the box
to stay

yes, yes, it is better
yes, yes, overall i am better
yes, yes i have felt stronger in the last year and a half than i have for ten
yes, yes, i’ve said 2016 is the year i am the proudest of
yes, yes i healed in kitakyushu at the temple
yes, yes i re-healed again a second time here

so why?
is it an old habit slip?

i always thought, yes, the uphill journey is jagged
not straight x=y
but
once i am strong and sure of myself
the episodes
the terror
would not happen

i healed, month of march madness and then
resigned agreement to not run, end, despair.
and then

i let it happen again.
discouragement.
damn it
i am so tired of this.
i have been so tired of it for so long.
can’t i bore myself to recovery?

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cosáin – pathways to recovery

if there is a possible you out there
which there is
what do you want hir to look like?

is always the question they ask

but if you do not have faith
that things can be different
thinking about anything good can be impossible
and if you try,
painful

it is automatically thinking of what you lack
it automatically creates a hole

sometimes i think
everything about mental health
all the ways we know to go about it
are wrong

i want to walk towards recovery
in a completely new manner
but maybe even that thought
is trapped within the old frame

maybe to recover
there is no movement involved
it is just
seeing, feeling
anew, again

the most raisonné

Assignment: Analyse critically, and compare and contrast the roles of two directors and their respective rehearsal processes.

HERO, an actress

VERGES, an actor

 

SCENE I

 

Hero and Verges sit in the common room of their freshman year dorm, the environment of many a discussion debating philosophy and theatre. Many signs and flyers adorn the walls.  Hero has a blanket over her legs and is typing away on her laptop.  Verges is reading from a notebook, clicking a pen.  Hero sighs, finishes her tea, and looks out the hall window.

 

HERO

What a dreary day.

 

VERGES

Yes, indeed.  The rain has been coming down since I got up this morning.

 

HERO

Perhaps if you had not gotten up, it never would have begun raining.

 

VERGES

That may, very likely, be the case.

 

Hero takes her cup of tea in her hands.

 

HERO

Similar to how it never rains when I carry around my beautiful umbrella.

 

VERGES

And it always rains when you don’t have it on you.

 

HERO

Exactly. Oh. My tea has disappeared.

 

VERGES

Or, it has been drunk more like.

 

HERO

My tea is always very well mannered. It would never be drunk.

 

VERGES

Well, aren’t you just gas?

 

HERO

Come again?

 

VERGES

I do apologize, I’ve added a few too many words to my debating lexicon since our holiday in Valencia.

 

HERO

The Valencian Islands, you mean.

 

VERGES

Yes, yes of course.

 

HERO

Yes, that isn’t one of your best.

 

VERGES

Yes, well, stolen from the Irish.  Guess I’d better give it back.

 

HERO

Yes, yes. I think that would be best.

 

VERGES

So the tea has disseminated.

 

HERO

Affirmative.

 

VERGES

And this is not to the lady’s satisfaction?

 

HERO

It most certainly is not.

 

VERGES

And I take it, the lovely lady would prefer it if the circumstance under which she is currently perching could be altered.

 

HERO

You are again correct, my prince.

 

VERGES

Would you like another cup of tea?

 

HERO

You have answered my prayers.

 

Verges retreats to the corner of the room, where there is a kettle and assorted snacks in basket.

 

VERGES

The rain is still coming down with a vengeance, so it is.

 

HERO

I think not that it will desist till we lie back in bed.

 

VERGES

When it rains, it pours.

 

HERO

Yes, that is exactly what I am trying to say.

 

VERGES

Hopefully it will no longer be raining this afternoon, upon our debarkation.

 

HERO

I wish it prettily.

 

VERGES

Miss Maureen Kilmurry would not be too satisfied if we arrived soaking wet to rehearsal.

 

HERO

No, I have a feeling she would not.

 

VERGES

Especially if we be rehearsing in the studio today.

 

HERO

Which I believe we are.

 

VERGES

Which I know we are, as she is ever so organized and has already outlined our location for each activity today.

 

HERO

Ah, how nice to be so organized.  Never have I experienced this in the theatre afore.

 

VERGES

Ah, I am used to such regulation.  At Whitney Young High School, we had very organized, demanding directors.

 

HERO

In my youth at McAllen High School, we too had demanding directors, though our schedules were not always the most raisonné.

 

VERGES

Sometimes that does result in tumultuous occurrences.

 

HERO

Au le contraire, I believe the best works are created by those who possess not just an unkempt diary, but an unkempt mind.

 

VERGES

Hero! You are happily skipping toward the heat of blasphemy and you realize it not.

 

HERO

This is indeed my sincerest belief, Verges.  I would not waste my breath uttering the false.

 

VERGES

Then, Hero, I have no choice but to challenge you to a duel.

 

HERO

Of words.

 

VERGES

Of course of words.  They are in excess about me, I must dispose of them.  And what better way to do so then in defence of my love and lord, Maureen Kilmurry.

 

HERO

You wish place your Maureen against my director-of-old?

 

VERGES

I do not wish it but feel I must! For you are saying that frazzled heads lead to works of art!

 

HERO

Not in all cases, dear Verges, but Micky Pelletier, the director of my past, did not arrange studio times two weeks in advance.  However, during my time spent there as her pupil, I was able to truly grow as an actress and was a part of some of the most sacred pieces of theatre.

 

VERGES

And thus, our duel begins.  For no directing method could be more advantageous than that of Maureen Kilmurry.

 

HERO

But how, worthy Verges, can we duel out this battle of artistic vision?

 

 

 

VERGES

We should go through all the characteristics of their directing methods and debate each one.  Whoever tramples the other wins.

 

HERO

Do you not think, great Verges, that perhaps there should be no winner of the duel? Perhaps the debate will be enough of a joy to feel as though it were a victory.

 

VERGES

And there be no winner?

 

HERO

Sound Verges, do you not think that such deliberation be futile if we only look to the victor? Would it not be most beneficial to compare and contrast the two, while deciding what the benefits and hindrances of each method are?

 

VERGES

Caring Hero, I wish it not to be so, but I believe you may have a point.

 

HERO

Good, then let us begin.

 

VERGES

Here is your tea.

 

HERO

Thank you.

 

VERGES

What, do you suggest, honourable Hero, that we discuss first?

 

HERO

Let us first examine their audition processes, and relationships with actors.  Then we can spend much of our discussion on their rehearsal procedures, for that is where the meat of the bones resides.

 

VERGES

Meat of the matter? There be no meat in bones.

 

HERO

And we shall finish off with a brief discussion surrounding their overall attitudes.

 

VERGES

Things such as style and vision?

 

HERO

Precisely.

 

VERGES

Combat number one: auditions. For Kilmurry, one must present one comical and one dramatic monologue.  For every audition, for every play.  People know what to expect from auditions such as these, and they know exactly what to prepare.

 

HERO

Do you not see this as a negative quality?

 

VERGES

Not at all.  It is concise and to the point.  There is no dillydallying about with playing music and demanding that the intimidated actors dance around a studio to blue lighting.

 

HERO

I enjoy such auditions and believe they are more telling than mere recitations.  Actors who are more daring and willing to take risks will not find it hard to move to music with others in order for the director to examine their physical capabilities, for example.

 

VERGES

I understand that they may not mind, but I will call upon William Ball, founder of the American Conservatory Theatre, to come to my aid.  He once said that “you have certain humane responsibilities” as a director during an audition.[1]

 

HERO

That do not allow him to make those auditioning dance?

 

VERGES

Not that he cannot dance, but that the actor is “in a strange place… all too aware of his shortcomings… [and] doesn’t know what you are looking for” and therefore, must be eased in gently to the audition.[2]  He even goes so far as to say that “every director should be required to audition whether or not he is a good actor [for it] is important for a director to experience the degree of panic that is involved and the feeling of desperation after auditioning.” [3]

 

HERO

I understand how sensitive he is being toward the actor, but I do not think that a director can truly grasp the talent of an actor from two monologues.  The monologues may not resemble any of the characters within the play for which they are auditioning and the director has no idea how long the actors have been working on their monologues.  One actor could have perfected his in an acting class two years ago, and another actor may have only worked on his alone.  It is important that some part of the audition process be unforeseen.

 

VERGES

I can appreciate what you are saying, bright Hero, but I think that it is also acceptable to judge an actor by something he has prepared, for when an actor is in a show, ze will have a sufficient amount of time outside of rehearsals to construct speeches and lines.  The show itself is not improv so I don’t think you should judge an actor solely on their ability to think quickly.  Preparation should count for something.

 

HERO

I can see your point.  Perhaps a mix of our directors’ styles would lead to being a commendable audition process.  One would be able to see how well prepared and studied an actor is, but also be able to attain a sense of their comfort with taking risks, thinking quickly, and taking an initiative to alter the scene if ze believes it is not going well.

 

VERGES

Yes, you are spot on, friendly Hero.  Perhaps passing through one set of auditioning leads to the next, distinct process, or both are executed before the callbacks list is revealed. But anywho, that is the subject for a different debate.

 

HERO

Yes, traipsing along.  Tell me of Ms. Kilmurry’s relationship with actors.

 

VERGES

Yes, to be honest, I was not too sure what you spoke of when you mentioned this.  Our relationship with Ms. Kilmurry is simply a director/actor relationship –nothing more than that.

 

HERO

You have been in more productions with her than I.  Does she not reveal things about her personal life? Tell you about challenges that she has endured?

 

VERGES

Never.  I would find that very unprofessional, and not at all useful for productions.

 

HERO

I can see how that would be a worry, but I found that when Ms. Pelletier shared information that was somehow relevant to what was occurring in rehearsal, we would feel more at ease to speak about hesitancies or worries of our own.  A simple story about her feeling uncomfortable to perform a sort of risqué task in high school enabled us to be able to speak up if we weren’t comfortable with a certain activity, such as wearing revealing clothing or kissing scenes in rehearsal.

 

VERGES

I don’t think those are such big worries one you leave the educational system.

 

HERO

That might be true, but I believe that Ms. Pelletier did not just want to speak of her experiences, but was simply trying to become more human in our eyes, and loosen our tongues a bit.  We felt more comfortable with her the more she told us.  This never turned into a form of disrespect in anyway, either.  It just enabled us to all work calmly on a stage together, and not feel as though each of our movements were being dictated.  There was a soft, common ground underneath all of us.

 

VERGES

It sounds to me as if Ms. Pelletier tried to create a comfortable atmosphere among the actors themselves as well.  Ms. Kilmurry never worried about this very much.

 

HERO

That is true.  At least for our current production, it doesn’t seem to include lots of exercises to bring the ensemble together or to make us trust and confide in one another more.  Everything is a bit more professional, and those who don’t have scenes together are not really encouraged to talk. Though I can understand the benefit in this, for you wouldn’t want two characters exchanging smiles or revealing an ease around each other if they were suppose to have never met in the life of the play, but it does make the entire process much more of an individual sort of effort.  One of the aspects I enjoyed the most from working on plays in high-school was the mist of communitas about the process.

 

VERGES

Again, that might be a sense that is only developed in more amateur types of theatre.  I could hardly imagine rival egos at the most well-know Chicago theatre bonding together for the good of the production.  Ms. Pelletier probably knew that the experience would be more enjoyable for high-schoolers if everyone shared a sense of amnesty and compassion, along with a mutual respect for the show.  I believe that when you work with adults, they already have enough motivation and reason to want to be an ingredient in a show.  They do not have to be encouraged with pizza parties and new friends.

 

HERO

That is true.  I suppose if acting is your profession, you’ve dedicated your life to it already.  That should be enough to make one motivated to travel to rehearsal and spend vast amounts of time in the theatre.  Not that we were not dedicated in high-school, for we were, but many of us would go on to study biology, communications, or languages.  We saw the time as beneficial, but not so much because we were receiving pay checks or adding plays to our resumes.  It was more about the experience.  Therefore, perhaps it is correct in stating that when working with younger actors, it perhaps would be more beneficial to concentrate on the experience of the production as well as the production work.

 

VERGES

That being said, some of the best theatre companies, made up of adults, are such because of the brobdingnagian amount of time the members spend with each other, going so far as living in community housing together.

 

HERO

But that is no longer relevant as neither Ms. Kilmurry nor Ms. Pelletier have set up an actor commune, as far as I am aware, in any and all cases.  Let us move on to the following sub–division, the rehearsal process, for soon we will have to begin our preparation for preparing for rehearsal.

 

VERGES

Yes, yes. For with Ms. Kilmurry, mere preparation is not enough.

 

HERO

Oh, what a nice segway.  This may be one area in which not much combat be necessary, for Ms. Pelletier would also encourage us to prepare before preparing for rehearsal.  In both cases here, the preparation for the rehearsal would be a group warm up or focusing activity.  Ms. Pelletier would want us to get into a rehearsing mindset half an hour before our group warm-up.  This was not technically rehearsal time, but was expected nonetheless.  This is similar to Ms. Kilmurry’s request that we get to the building early and read over the play or stretch.  It appears both directors deem focus, punctuality, and discipline from each actor as extremely vital to a triumphant work.

 

VERGES

Would Ms. Pelletier have a company read-through the first rehearsal?

 

HERO

Certainly, just as Ms. Kilmurry. That might be something quite common across the board, though I have read of a few exceptions. As for the daily schedule, I have let you know previously, clever Verges, that Ms. Pelletier, while informing us of the hours and dates of rehearsal beforehand, would not divulge what would be worked on specifically that day.  This did not perturb me in any way, for I liked the excitement of uncertainty, the surprise felt once Ms. Pelletier would inform us of the undertaking of the day.

 

VERGES

I feel as though I must reiterate that it simply seems responsible to inform actors of what is being done in each rehearsal.

 

HERO

If there was something big to be done, we would be given an accurate amount of time to know of it.  She would never say, memorize these lines by tomorrow, or expect us to magically have back-stories to our characters.  Those sorts of things we would know of when necessary.  Of course, we never missed rehearsal except for extreme circumstance or sickness.  I remember if we were absent from school we would also have to call into her so that she would know we would not be at rehearsal.  She said this was integral, not simply so that she would be aware of our nonappearance, but so that she could alter the plan for rehearsal throughout the day.  She said that the whole day she would be thinking about our rehearsal and planning what would occur.  This sort of organization made it easy to restructure rehearsals if need be.  I understand that some people like to have the future outlined very well, but Ms. Pelletier’s rehearsals did not suffer as a result of her planning system. Now, we continue forward.  What, would you say, are memorable aspects of Ms. Kilmurry-style rehearsals?

 

VERGES

I have read of directors who would never allow the actors to go on stage without knowing a proper dance of the time. Ms. Kilmurry follows suit in this.  I know we have not learned a dance yet for this production, but I am sure it is to come.  For The Cherry Orchard, it was convenient, because some of the characters actually do have to dance on stage, but Ms. Kilmurry used this as a chance for us all to become a bit more aware of the play’s historical context.  We would have rehearsals set aside just for dancing and though many of us never let the audience admire our light-as-a-feather feet, it was a valuable experience for us.  Our characters were that much more developed.  If one cannot travel across the world or back in time, being privy to activities like this can only behoof character development.

 

HERO

Yes, I suppose a lack of time would be one of the only strings that might prevent such activities from taking place.  Ms. Pelletier never had us learn dances, but she was very intent on creating back story.  For her, the life of the character offstage was just as important as what the audience saw.  She would spend many rehearsals talking with us about each of our characters and all their attributes and details.  For more intense relationships, she would have the actors and actresses act out important scenes from their pasts.  In the production of By the Bog of Cats, by Marina Carr, the actresses playing Hester and Josie Swane and the actor playing Carthage Kilbride would play-out events that occurred before the play.  Do you know the script?

 

VERGES

Yes.  I imagine they acted out scenes where more happiness was present than in the actual scenes of the play?  Scene when things were somewhat better?

 

HERO

Yes.  The actress playing Hester and the actor playing Carthage also re-enacted some of their more romantic moments.  This was meant to further develop the characters so that when Hester is visited by Carthage’s soon-to-be-bride, the hurt inside her is, if not more real, better realized.  Acting out moments from before the play was very important to being able to portray the character in the present moment.

 

VERGES

Though I do not believe that it always be necessary, I can argue not with its profitable products. Loving Hero, I do believe that we have been able to be quite civil with one another throughout this duel.  I am tres proud of our integrity and self-discipline.

 

HERO

Essential Verges, I agree to the utmost degree.  Let us wrap this up quickly, as we have to leave for the Helfaer Theatre in less than half an hour.  As for our fourth area of debate, what would you say is Ms. Kilmurry’s overall attitude and style?  What is her vision for what a play should be like?

 

VERGES

I am not sure I can honestly answer that question, for Ms. Kilmurry’s vision alters with each play that she directs.  However, I can say that she does tend to gravitate toward period plays, such as Shakespeare, Chechov, and Farquhar.  Much of her experience in acting is with classical pieces and thus I believe it is her strong suit.  That being said, her classical pieces are ne’er too classic in production.  Though at times the costumes, music, and set would all be true to the time period, there have also been productions in which Ms. Kilmurry has altered the original location of the play or other elements.  Within the area of classical theatre, there is still a great amount of diversity.

 

HERO

I understand what you speak, compassionate Verges.  I read once that having a certain “style” with which a director is identified can be just as detrimental as having no style.

 

VERGES

Yes, for then your works are not simply reminiscent of one another, but almost replications.  I am proud to say that there is no “look” which Ms. Kilmurry places on each production, rather she looks at each individually.  Tell me of Ms. Pelletier.  Has she an overall style or attitude toward the theatre?

 

HERO

Oh, how pleasant to be able to relax on a rainy Saturday morning and speak of my talented director.  I thank thee, Verges, for our natter.  Ms. Pelletier did not really have an overall style for her productions.  Again, the same as you, Verges, I see this as a positive characteristic of her diverse mind.  However, she would gravitate towards heavily dramatic works, such as The Odyssey, The Sins of Sor Juana, and The Insanity of Mary Girard –plays with death, incest, and insanity.  Though, that being said, one fall she sat four of us girls down and handed us the play Going to See the Elephant. We sat in the back of the costume shop and read through the play till the very end, waiting for a death, a fight, or some dark confession, but the disaster never came.  When she came in to ask us what we thought of the play, I told her “I need someone to die.”  She looked at me aghast for I do not think she had realized that the only plays I had done with her were of this dramatic nature.  Therefore, I do not believe, loquacious Verges, that Ms. Pelletier has a style, per se, but she was most definitely dramatically inclined, tending to like plays with deaths, ghosts and the other world.

 

VERGES

How very interesting, calculating Hero.  Both of our directors tended towards certain types of plays, but within that, would still alter style, or at times, select a work that would be out of the ordinary.

 

HERO

So they have their strengths, but are still willing to explore.  That must be a nice position to set oneself in.  Did Ms. Kilmurry have any philosophy on theatre? Does she end a show with a word of wisdom?

 

VERGES

Not a philosophy on life, really but she was always very intent on paying homage to the playwright.  She respected hir words and wanted us to do the same.  She would always tell us to make Shakespeare proud when we were working on A Winter’s Tale. How about Ms. Pelletier? Did she have any contestable theory on the commerce and consumption of theatre?

 

HERO

One thing of which she was very intent of reminding us of was that we were creating life on stage.  She was not objective or literal or distanced from the work.  She sincerely believed that we were gods, however miniature, generating chance, breathing out circumstance.  When we were on stage, she told us we no longer were ourselves but someone else.  I do not think it was just a result of our age range that she felt we had to believe such notions.  Directors have different theories as to what theatre is and why they do what they do.  Reasons can vary from political to creative to therapeutical.  For Ms. Pelletier, is was to contribute to the enrichment of living, by creating altered worlds, and letting us all drop into them for a limited time, to see what it felt like.

 

VERGES

Along with simply being entertaining, it was… almost magical?

 

HERO

Splendid, Verges, I never thought I would hear you utter such an elusive word.

 

VERGES

Your rhetoric has taken the steeple out from under me, as we say in Valencia.

 

HERO

Verges, you may want to let that go as well.

 

VERGES

I will think on’t.  Before I reach a decision on the contents of my lexicon, however, we most certainly must begin our walk across the Millennium Bridge.

 

HERO

Wise words you have uttered, candid Verges. I will wash my tea cup, and then be ready to leave.

 

VERGES

Dazzling Hero, I will wait for ages for your company.

 

Looks at watch.

 

Or… at least two minutes. Make haste!

 

HERO

I come, I come.

 

Verges and Hero stand by the elevator.  Verges presses the button.

Thank you, brilliant Verges, for discussing my greatest love, the theatre, with me on such a rainy day.  No rain can ruin my day now.

 

Verges and Hero enter the elevator.

 

VERGES

That is lovely to hear, erratic Hero, for you have forgotten to bring your umbrella for the walk.

 

The doors of the elevator close.  It continues to rain outside.

Curtain.

 

May 23, 2012
WORKS CITED
Ball, William. A Sense of Direction: Some Observations on the Art of Directing. Ann Arbor: Drama Book Publishers. 1984.
[1] Ball, 38.
[2] Ball, 38.
[3] Ball, 40.

Research & Analysis : Final Paper

I’ve Never Read Peter Lake

RYE is a puppet.

KAEDE

RYDER

MAI

AUGUST VANCE

HANNAH

A space. The students discuss Brooks, Auslander, and Goffman and what they have learned from their Theory of Theatre class.

 

SCENE 1

 

KAEDE

When I was in high school, we were given two poems for homework and asked to analyze them. One was called “Little Boy Blue” and the other… well, I forgot what the other one was called.  And then the next day in class the teacher asked us which poem was better.  And I wrote “Little Boy Blue”, because it was sweet, and touched me.  But I was wrong.

 

RYDER

Huh? You were wrong?

 

KAEDE

Yeah. After we talked about both poems the next day in class Mrs. Mott asked us, “So, chickadees, which poem is the better poem?” Everyone shouted out the name of the other poem and I sat there, feeling terrible that I got it wrong.  She said that “Little Boy Blue” just pulled at your heartstrings, and nothing more.

 

MAI

But it affected you.  Even if your teacher thought it was simple, the fact that it did pull at your heartstrings means something, doesn’t it?

 

KAEDE

Not to her I guess.

 

RYDER

So she thought it was bad? Like it was just a kind of manipulation?

 

KAEDE

Yep. Guess so.

 

RYDER

Well, she’s right to an extent.  I mean poetry… art… it’s all manipulation, isn’t it?

 

MAI

Yeah, but the teacher was acting as if that’s a bad thing.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be.  I mean, it must be acceptable for us to get manipulated to an extent.  We are aware that when we enter a theatre or pick up a book our emotions may, and probably will, be affected.  But we do so willingly.

 

KAEDE

That’s true. But I think she thought it was a lower form of art because it was simply that.  Simply emotional.  And maybe provocative in diction.

 

RYDER

Provocative. How so?

 

KAEDE

Well, there wasn’t a lot of meat to the poem.  It was just forgotten toys and an abandoned room and the like –something to make you nostalgic and want to cry.  But there were no double entendres.  No Grecian allusions.  Not even a nice alliteration or two.

 

MAI

I still don’t understand why any of that is necessary at all.

 

RYDER

It’s not really necessary, it just shows the skill of the writer, or playwright, or painter. To have tricks, and literary games within the pieces.

 

MAI

Yeah… I understand all those literary tricks are ways artists –

 

RYDER

Tricks, say you? Please don’t –it carries a negative connotation.

 

MAI

All right. Affirmative.  Those literary… tools enable an artist to show off their wit, but don’t you think that in itself takes away a bit of the art?

 

RYDER

You mean, artists being too artsy make art less worthy of being called art?

 

Pause.

 

MAI

Okay, that does sound comical, but yes.  I think the more theatrical you have to be, the more you deter from the point of a piece.

 

RYDER

But you’re using a very 21st-century mindset of the theatre, are you not? You seem to be arguing that the more lather and décor a piece has, the more it steps away from reality and by association away from true art.  However, naturalism, or realism were not (and really still are not always) the point of the theatre.  Indeed, it was not always so… referential.  We can witness this just by the types of theatres popular in the 18th century.  Big, red curtains, ornate….

 

RYE

Looking up from his painting,

 

You know, Chikamatsu Monzaemon is remembered as preferring Bunraku theatre to Kabuki or Noh because he felt the puppets created the exact amount of distance that the audience needed from the story to make it believable.  He thought it was quite obvious that the actors were not the characters they were portraying, and this was distracting for the audience.

 

KAEDE, MAI, and RYDER all look at RYE and nod.

 

Also,

 

KAEDE, MAI and RYDER all jump with shock that he will speak again.  RYE shrinks back a little, astonished by their reactions.

 

… also, there’s a story about the guy who was directing a show and there was a hanging scene and he asked the jailer if he could use one of the men really set to be hung for a crime, a real criminal… he asked if he could use ‘im and the jailer let ‘im but it flopped.  He didn’t fling around enough.  He wasn’t dying the way people wanted him too.  Even though… he really was dying.

 

Pause.

 

People didn’t want something real.  They didn’t really want to see a man “die”.

 

Pause.

 

KAEDE

Hmm.  Getting back to how theatrical or non-theatrical you should be in the theatre, maybe we have to take into account what the director or producer or company wants to show.  If they want to get to the heart of, say, Our Town

 

RYDER

Come on, can’t you pick another-

 

KAEDE

Just go with me. If the director wanted the audience to really grasp the fluidity of time and the ephemeral characteristic of life, and does that through the simplest set, grand.  But if another director does it by, say, using the same hundred pieces of wood to construct the set of each individual scene, and then tears it apart, and then rebuilds and strikes, so that the entire production takes three hours longer than usual…

 

MAI

We shouldn’t fault him?

 

KAEDE

Exactly.  If, indeed, the audience, through observing this destruction and reconstruction of scenery between each scene, each new stage of life, somehow became aware of the brevity and cyclical aspect of life.

 

RYDER

Yeah, I understand your point.  But don’t you think, that by using that wood, somehow the play was… better than the former? It not only told the story through the script, but it was built into the scenery as well.  My friend once saw a performance of Bernarda Alba where the house had a small crack at the beginning of the play.  As the play continued, the crack slowly spread so that by the end of the play, the house looked like it would soon fall.[1]  And my friend said, “My God, I never really understood the play till I saw that crack.  I realized- the house is being torn apart.

 

MAI

But the first play got across what it wanted to as well.

 

KAEDE

Even though I would say that maybe it was less… deep?

 

MAI

You guys are operating under a very traditional viewpoint of theatre.  Surely, after all we have studied this year in our Theory of Theatre class, you should be a bit more open about what constitutes a good or bad play.  Furthermore, don’t you think even using those words to describe distinct Our Town productions is a little too simplistic?

 

KAEDE

That’s true.  We can’t be all that objective when describing art.

 

RYDER

I don’t see why not. Surely there is some sort of criteria by which we can judge works or art.  You cannot say that August Vance’s plays about Archibald and Gwendolyn are as intellectually stimulating as Chekhov’s Three Sisters.

 

AUGUST VANCE

I really like that play.

 

MAI

It’s okay, August.

 

To RYDER

 

Maybe you can’t say they’re as intellectually stimulating, but there’s no reason one is better than the other. Or a greater piece of work than the other.

 

RYDER

Really?!  You’re saying that any old piece of pumpkin batter that gets performed in whoever’s basement on Thanksgiving day for their parents, some old skit of Indians and Pilgrims, with four-year-olds piping “me too” and giggling and winking at the audience, and breaks of character too high to count… all that? Is just as worthy as a Southern American modern-day adaptation of Troilus and Cressida in Surrey?

 

KAEDE

The audience probably enjoyed it as much in both places.  Is the point purely to entertain? And nothing else?

 

KAEDE

Not necessarily. Though I think that is what marks the success of a production much of the time.

 

RYDER

Well, fine for those kinds of people, I guess, but surely there are plays that are not worthy of being produced.

 

Break. Switch focus with lighting.

 

HANNAH

Appearing from behind a curtain, recites,

 

“The new theater, like the new visual art, was in a process of dematerialization. When a live sculpture or painting dissipated the traditional permanence of the art object, it dissolved the commodity aspect of the work as well. A sense of immediacy and concreteness combined with spontaneity and an interest in the work process, rather than the finished product, to repudiate the romantic notion of the artwork as a fixed instance of the artist’s expression. Strategies of monotone and repetition undercut values of craftsmanship and composition.” [2] It makes sense doesn’t it? It’s kind of fun… the process. Isn’t it?

 

Break back. Switch focus with lighting.

 

MAI

Again, I think you are being a little too traditionalistic.  What speaks to you may not speak to a fifty-five-year old woman, Ryder.  I always think about this when critics refer to Ibsen, Dickens, and Williams.  Maybe these plays are just popular and revered because they speak to upper middle class white males who wrote all the reviews when these pieces came out.  That’s why I really like authors like Sharon Creech.  She could write beautiful novels for adults I am sure.  She has got the skill and the soul –but she spends her time writing for children, focusing on that audience.

 

RYDER

What exactly are you getting at?

 

KAEDE

Everyone blames the critics.  You know Peter Brook says that “a critic has… [an] important role, an essential one, in fact, for an art without critics would be constantly menaces by far greater dangers.” [3]

 

MAI

And “his angriest reaction is valuable –it is a call for competence,” I know. [4]  I am simply trying to say that perhaps our perception, or rather, your perception of what is good, or classic, is simply a result of critics’ talk and their opinions.  If we had thirty-two-year-old African American women as our main source of review, then what plays are a “success” would be different, to be sure.

 

KAEDE

Well, of course we are affected by our surroundings, critics, and our time period.  I think, before this three day lecture series though, I never understood to what extent the theatre has changed.

 

MAI

How do you mean?

 

KAEDE

Well, previously, I had thought there was really only one big shift, when naturalism had its nascence. But there were so many other changes in theatre buildings, in what was emphasized, etc.

 

RYDER

That’s true.  I had never really thought of the actual building of the theatre as an element of performance.  I took it for granted that plays are done in theatres.  Theatres are buildings with a stage and seating, however arranged.  But I hadn’t really been aware of… the existence of the theatre building.

 

KAEDE

I remember when Ida asked us about “what the theatre building [did] as a framework for viewing a show?”[5]

 

MAI

Yes, wasn’t that interesting? For example, the Mermaid Theatre, in Bray.  The fact that it is in the main section of town, that it is a community theatre… that symbolizes its utility and place in the town.  It can probably not be too risky, and the plays should be chosen to directly benefit the community, whether in entertainment or efficacy.

 

KAEDE

Therefore, the location of the theatre illustrates its place in society.

 

RYDER

And you might have some trouble trying to put on 4:48 Psychosis there.

 

KAEDE

Well, some people might like it.  But if it is somewhat of a traditionalist town, then you would probably not get the reaction you wanted.

 

MAI

Well, actually, maybe you should be putting on plays that the town does not expect.  Then, you would make people think a little more, instead of having cookie-cutter feel-good shows every month.

 

RYDER

But theatre should not always be used as a means to provoke.  If the audience does not like the type of theatre that is being performed, perhaps they would fail to attend the theatre all together.  Surely sub-par theatre is better than no theatre at all?

 

KAEDE

Also, it’s interesting to look at the theatre as a social institution as well.

 

MAI

What do you mean?

 

KAEDE

I mean, I took for granted that theatres are just there.  I never thought before about why?  For example, society must have a need for them to exist as they have been around for ages.  Also, even though I like to think of theatre as revolutionary or rebellious, government must have some reason they want theatres around, else they would be disbanded, like Japan did to Kabuki in the 17th century.

 

MAI

I see.  So we’ve realized not just that the buildings are something to observe and take into account, but the actual existence of the art form is something to be cognizant of.

 

RYDER

Yes, it seems that in studying something, before timelines or periods, one must study the actual construction and existence of the studied thing.

 

KAEDE

Yes.  Well it was interesting to learn about that.

 

MAI

Though I would still be interested in studying what would occur if more experimental works were performed at the Mermaid Theatre.

 

KAEDE

Yes, perhaps the audience would think that the work could not possibly be too obscure if it was being performed in the center of Bray and therefore take a liking to such a piece.

 

RYDER

Hmm.  You know what Victor Hugo said… The theatre can take a mob and…. Something about a peephole.  How does that go?

 

KAEDE

I am not sure… but it has something to do with how an audience can become linked together with an experience, perhaps creating a unified vision at the end. [6]

 

RYDER

Exactly.  Meaning to say that, perhaps all the citizens would bond together and…

 

KAEDE

Maybe their expectations of and desires for plays would transform…

 

Walks into the kitchen.

 

RYDER

Maybe.

 

AUGUST VANCE
Brecht was a smart man, so he was.

 

RYDER

To make people be aware of what they were seeing?

 

MAI

Mhm.

 

KAEDE

Returning from the kitchen with tea.

 

Would anyone like some tea?

 

RYDER

Yes, please.

 

In his hurry, RYDER trips over AUGUST VANCE, who is lying on the floor.  He does a forward roll as a result of his fall.

 

AUGUST VANCE

Ow!

 

MAI

Laughs.  Jokingly,

 

Wow, that was brilliant.  Good show, Ryder.  Really, quite enjoyed it.

 

RYDER

Struggling to recover,

 

Well, you are welcome, Mai, but that was not done for your entertainment, I’ll have you know.

 

KAEDE

Joining in on the game,

 

I don’t know Ryder… Peter Brook might just defend Mai and me when we say that that was the performance of the year.  Or, at least the week.

 

MAI

You know what they say… All actors are performers, but not all performers are actors.[7]

 

KAEDE

Who says that?

 

RYDER

Hardy har har, guys. Very funny.  But I don’t think that that fall can be construed as theatre.

 

KAEDE

But-

 

RYDER

I know, I know.  I’ve never read Peter Lake or whoever, and I don’t know what his theories are, but there is no way that me tripping over August could be comparable to Bang Bang You’re Dead being performed in Columbine. Can you pass the milk?

 

MAI

Sure. But I can’t just let you get away with something like that.

 

KAEDE

No, I don’t think she can. Sugar?

 

MAI

Yes, please. Now, really, Ryder, I know you can tend to be quite conservative, but give Peter Brook a chance!  He has some revolutionary ideas of what the theatre could be.  You know, the things he calls for could bring about a transformation in theatre comparable to that which was made with Checkov’s plays.

 

RYDER

Maybe Goffman can help me out here.

 

KAEDE

Haha. Well on his scale of pure to most impure, I suppose he would have to say that that may have been an unpure performance, for you seemed to “openly show no regard or concern for the dramatic elements of your labor.” [8]

 

RYDER

True.  But if I had meant to simply twirl over August Vance for a bit of fun, it would have been one of the purest of performances, by Goffman’s standards, no?

 

KAEDE

For without the audience there would have been no performance. [9]

 

AUGUST VANCE

Ow.  At least you’ve got that one nailed down. Something good came out of –ow.

 

MAI

But, how odd to organize performances from being pure to impure.  Impure seems so negative. It’s as if every time one observes a couple fighting on the street, there is something wrong with the act of observation.

 

RYDER

It’s not necessarily that.  It only means that there are levels of performance.  Some things are meant to be watched as so, from plays to sporting matches, and then some occurrences can still be seen as performance even though they would not typically be defined as such, like weddings and lectures. [10]

 

 

KAEDE

Performance is an element that occurs everywhere. But disappearing too…

 

RYDER

Sort of what Peggy Phelan says when she talks about the value of liveness.

 

AUGUST VANCE

“Written on the wind”[11]

RYDER

Huh?

AUGUST VANCE

Peter Brook.  He and Phelan are in accord. He said “…theatre is always a self-destructive art, and it is always written on the wind.  A professional theatre assembles different people every night and speaks to them through the language of behavior.  A performance gets set and usually has to be repeated –and repeated as well and accurately as possible –but from the day it is set something invisible is beginning to die.” [12]

RYDER

Yeah. Exactly. Phelan says theatre will never die, that its value is uncontested, for it will never occur again, the same as life. [13]  Because of its brevity, the theatre is priceless.

 

KAEDE

I understand what Phelan is saying, but I don’t think everyone would agree with her.  In fact, I think the majority of the public would not agree with her and side with, say, Philip Auslander.

 

MAI

I don’t know, he is a bit radical.

 

KAEDE

I don’t think so.  Basically he just points out that we are all used to combining media elements, and that fundamentally, there is no difference between theatre, or performances with media, or simply, say, television.[14]

 

MAI

I understand what he is saying, but you could argue quite easily, I believe, that a play is different from a movie.

 

KAEDE

Not everyone would agree with you. Or your Phelan woman.  You surely must admit that there are levels of liveness, such as Auslander points out?

 

MAI

I suppose, but it all seems a little convoluted, don’t you think? I mean that whole chart about what is this amount of being live, and this section and…

 

KAEDE

I think it’s pretty simple.  And pretty straight forward actually.  For the first section, one is in the same space, and the same time. This makes it “very live” because this can’t be replaced at all.

 

RYDER

And the idea of commodity attacks this.  In the same way that Guinness advertises that you’ll always get the same pint, shows like to guarantee that what you see in Chicago or New York will be just like it was in Paris or Tokyo.[15]  Then you move on to the next section which is people in different spaces, experiencing something at the same time.

 

MAI

See, I don’t understand why that is even a part of liveness at all.  I mean, how are people in different place experiencing something live? Or as a group?

 

RYDER

Just think about September 11th.  You remember what you were doing that day, I am sure.

 

MAI

Yes, of course. We all do.

 

RYDER

Do you remember what you were feeling?

 

MAI

Yes. Of course.  I remember the classroom I was in, the test I had that day.  I remember watching the news when I got home.  I remember that moment, second period as we were all watching the news in the library… I remember seeing the second plane attacking and thinking, my god, no –this can’t be happening.  Up to then we were all thinking it was a mistake, a fluke, the first plane.  When we saw the second, everyone got quieter.  I remember feeling a little bit emptier, like the plane had flown into my stomach along with that tower and knocked all the air out of me.

 

RYDER

There’s something binding in that, don’t you think?  With everyone in that library, yes, but also, with school children all over the States.  There were so many of us sitting there, speechless, watching those people jump out of the highest of stories to nothingness… We all share something because of that, don’t you think?

 

MAI

Yes, that’s true…

 

KAEDE

I mean, yes, he made it up, but it makes sense, to divide it that way.

 

RYDER

There’s definitely something to be said about lack of liveness though.  Doesn’t it make certain moments all the more… real? Like, remember in Theory of Theatre we talked about telegrams, and how the feeling of having received one is almost lost to an audience now.  With all this business, and swift speed of communication… in an ironic way it means we are aware now, more than ever, of being together in the same space at the same time. [16]

 

MAI

Perhaps that is so.

 

RYDER

Either way, it is quite useful to have these theoreticians in our back pocket, don’t you think?  The next time the guys are cracking jokes about me being in theatre, I’ll whack them over the head with a bit of Phelan.

 

KAEDE

Well, I think that Auslander will be useful to my friend’s company in Chicago, “The Rolling Company.” All their plays have a vast amount of media involvement, it’s part of their motto.

 

MAI

Cute.

 

KAEDE

Mhm..

 

MAI

Well you know what they say, “the distiniction between live and technologically mediated performance remains a fundamental and cultrally stratifying one.” [17]

 

KAEDE

Looking through notebook,

 

Ah, yes. Let me see. Where is the quote? Here we go.  “I’ve been spoiled… by watching movies and television, where you can see very well and you can hear what the actors are saying.  It’s really, really hard for me to sit in row HH and not be able to see the faces of the actors and have to… strain to hear their voices…” [18]

 

MAI

Implying “that the sense of immediacy can actually be stronger when watching film or television than at the theatre.” [19]

 

RYDER

Yep. Well you know, nowadays, “many performances blend elements of both technologically mediated performance and live, unmediated performance,” and it gets harder and harder to differentiate them.[20]

 

KAEDE

Auslander has a very Cartesian way of writing about the theatre, don’t you think?  It’s a bit too scientific for my taste.” [21]

 

MAI

Definitely for me.  He talks of proscenium arches and seating arrangement and the process all as a science, as something to be scrutinized, rather than something we feel.

 

RYDER

Oh, Mai. You and your feelings.

 

MAI

I’m an artist, Ryder. I am a sensitive soul.

 

Curtain.

 

 

 

WORKS CITED

 

 

Auslander, Philip, ‘Live and Technologically Mediated Performance’ in Cambridge Companion

to Performance Studies, ed. by Tracy C. Davis (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Balme, Christopher. The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Studies. Chapter Two: Spectators

and Audiences. Cambridge University Press.

Banes, Sally Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance. Wesleyan Paperback: Wesleyan.

 

Kindle Edition. Kindle Locations 876-879.

 

Brook, Peter. The Empty Space. Penguin Book Ltd.: England 1968.

 

Goffman, Erving. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Harvard

 

University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1974.

 

Jordan, Eamonn.  Class Lecture. . Research and Analysis in Drama and Performance. University

 

College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 14 Sept 2011.

 

Leeney, Cathy. Class Discussion. Research and Analysis in Drama and Performance. University

 

College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 14, 21 Sept 2011.

 

Ros Gordon, Loli. Class Discussion. Text Analysis and Performance. University College Dublin,

 

Dublin, Ireland. 15 Nov 2011.

 

Wurtzler, Steve. “She Sang Live, But the Microphone Was Turned Off’: The Live, the Recorded,

 

and the Subject of Representation,” in Rick Altman, ed., South Theory Sound Practice

Routledge: New York. 1992.

 

[1] Ros Gordon, Loli. Class Discussion. Text Analysis and Performance. University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 15 Nov 2011.

[2] Banes, Sally Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance. Wesleyan Paperback: Wesleyan. Kindle Edition. Kindle Locations 876-879.

 

[3] Brook, Peter. The Empty Space. Penguin Book Ltd.: England 1968. Page 35.

[4] Brook, 36.

[5] Jordan, Eamonn.  Class Lecture. . Research and Analysis in Drama and Performance. University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 14 Sept 2011.

[6] Leeney, Cathy. Class Discussion. Research and Analysis in Drama and Performance. University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 14 Sept 2011.

[7] Goffman, Erving. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1974. Page 127.

[8] Goffman, 126.

[9] Goffman, 125.

[10] Goffman, 126.

[11] Brook, 18.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Leeney, Cathy. Class Discussion. Research and Analysis in Drama and Performance. University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 14 Sept 2011..

[14]  Auslander, Philip, ‘Live and Technologically Mediated Performance’ in Cambridge Companion to Performance Studies, ed. by Tracy C. Davis (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

 

[15] Auslander.

[16] Leeney, Cathy. Class Discussion. Research and Analysis in Drama and Performance. University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 21 Sept 2011.

[17] Auslander.

[18] Weber, Anne Nicholson. comp., Upstaged: Making Theatre in the Media Age. Routledge: New York. 2006.

Page 9.

 

[19] Auslander.

[20] Wurtzler, Steve. “She Sang Live, But the Microphone Was Turned Off’: The Live, the Recorded, and the Subject of Representation,” in Rick Altman, ed., South Theory Sound Practice. Routledge: New York. 1992.

 

[21] Cronin, Finola. Class Discussion. Research and Analysis in Drama and Performance. University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 17 Oct 2011.