Okay, first of all – because people will criticize me for it, and rightly so – I have not seen this play. I fully appreciate that plays are written in...moreOkay, first of all – because people will criticize me for it, and rightly so – I have not seen this play. I fully appreciate that plays are written in order to be viewed on stage, not on page, and that people who judge a play after merely reading it are probably the bane of a playwright's life. That said, I feel that if there's any play that's could be "seen" just as well in the mind of the reader, it's Our Town.. From the setting to the plot to the characters' actions, the entire thing is almost austerely minimalistic, in a way that doesn't require strenuous use of the imagination. Which I did enjoy about this reading/mental viewing experience, since I felt guilty about not having seen it.
Another thing I liked in this play is the continual communication with the audience. The Stage Manager is, I guess, some metaphorical stand-in for an angel, able to appear among us without our recognizing it, to play different roles among us (i.e. the Mr. Morgan and the minister), and able to deliver a transcendental tones for the humans keen enough to hear him. That type of narrator must have been innovative for the play's time, and I like what Wilder did with that.
The most impassioned response I could stir up at the ending, however, was a raised eyebrow. I feel Wilder started off with an intriguing set-up, and proceeded to careen downhill. He did exactly what any self-respecting reader was predicting he'd do. Yes, I should keep in mind that it was first produced and published in 1938. In context, I suppose the qualities of this play mean a lot more than they do today. But as to one critic's claim that he has "transmuted the simple events of human life into universal reverie," I simply fail to grasp any genuine artistic profundity here. He's trying, he really is; you can tell in many places. But I just don't think he pulls it off. Example: the ending references to the stars. "My boy Joel was a sailor, - knew 'em al. He'd set on the porch by evenings an' tell 'em all by name. Yes, sir - wonderful!" "A star's mighty good company." "Yes, yes 'tis." Sorry, but am I the only one who sees something that's trying to be Profound, and achieves only a scrabbling Pathetic?
I appreciate that he's trying to show how life is art, or should be seen as art. The "live-every-moment-as-though-it-were-your-last" sort of message is obvious enough, and it's not lost on me; many of my favourite-ever works of literature, vis. art and theatre share the same "point." And in its overwhelming (or rather underwhelming) simplicity, the entire play in every aspect is a challenge to the viewer to remember that the simple moments deserve our full attention. At the same time, even with a killer cast, I have a hard time picturing this play as something to stay in the mind for more than an hour afterwards. I would like to watch it someday. Still, there's plenty that make me appreciate life-as-art a heck of a lot more than this American classic has done.(less)
A delightful if improbable story. I enjoyed this play intensely, and think I must read more Shakespeare – though I'll probably start talking in iambic...moreA delightful if improbable story. I enjoyed this play intensely, and think I must read more Shakespeare – though I'll probably start talking in iambic pentameter if I do, and that could be disastrous. Anyway, despite the arcane prejudice about Judaism, there is huge appeal here in the strong female leads. I want to punch my fist in the air when those presumptuous first suitors are thwarted. I also want to do some research on the consensus of whether or not Antonio is gay. That's it for now. (less)
(Approximated) My colleagues' and my pre-class musings over this play:
Elizabeth: What questions is Dr. Bamford writing on the board now... 'Why does C...more(Approximated) My colleagues' and my pre-class musings over this play:
Elizabeth: What questions is Dr. Bamford writing on the board now... 'Why does Claudio shame Hero?' Well... Me: Because he's a gullible jerk. With the excuse of being young. Lame. Elizabeth: Agreed. Caroline: 'Why is Don Pedro involved?' Elizabeth: Because he's an arrogant, gullible prick. Man, I can't wait to see those two get brought down a notch. Me: 'Why does Leonato not believe Hero?' Caroline: Because he doesn't care what his daughter has to say. He's jerked around like a puppet between Don Pedro / Claudio and the Friar / Benedick, because THEY are men, after all. Elizabeth: Well, that's all basically plausible. Me: And my question is, why does Benedick immediately know that Don John's the perp?
Because Don John is a bastard. Of COURSE.
That out of the way, Benedick and Beatrice – increasingly through the play – are adorable and proud and clever (mainly Bea on that count) and unreasonable and hilarious and miraculous and, oh yes, in all other ways irresistible, embodying this and all else that can be liked about any of Shakespeare's lovers. Especially in the 1984 version. Go to about 3:45 in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAt_Mj... Don't ask me quite why it appeals to me so much, but it makes me want to act in this play. Someday? Till then, I'll be re-re-reading it and imagining them with great enjoyment. I'm sure Shakespeare would consider such reactions to be proof of his play-writing triumph.
Goodnight Desdemona, o'er all others Did not fail this reader to impress. Even Shakespeare's characters could not Leap off the page the way MacDonald's...moreGoodnight Desdemona, o'er all others Did not fail this reader to impress. Even Shakespeare's characters could not Leap off the page the way MacDonald's do, Though hers are take-offs on th' originals. Even Shakespeare's verse has not endured So well that I did not find hers more fresh. The meeting of her world and the Bard's! The call to revere him, though she dares adapt, Truly I believe is answered well. Playfully done, and with true art accomplished. (I would go on, but pure awe shuts me up.) Hear me, though: you shall enjoy this play! Vibrant life's in this slim tome of drama, And I'll re-read it many a future day At home upon my couch, or – heck – in class; In Constance's dream I'll gladly lose myself – one day, if lucky, glimpse it on a stage? O, eyes wouldn't dare to hear, nor ears to speak. Hey, Anne-Marie! Do you think you could Try something with A Midsummer Night's Dream next?(less)
Currently learning one of Haley's longer speeches. I wish my library had the actual play. To perform a monologue without having read the play itself i...moreCurrently learning one of Haley's longer speeches. I wish my library had the actual play. To perform a monologue without having read the play itself is simply wrong, but ah! I really like the monologue....(less)
Fantastic, awe-inspiring character creation. I want to explore all the nuances of Christine Linde, and Dr. Rank, and Krogstad, and especially Nora. An...moreFantastic, awe-inspiring character creation. I want to explore all the nuances of Christine Linde, and Dr. Rank, and Krogstad, and especially Nora. Anyone who essays to interpret this merely as some sort of feminist power-politics commentary is seriously shortchanging themselves, and misusing the play. I'm itching already to reread it, multiple times, as well as to actually see it. (Maybe I'll start with the Christopher Plummer & Julie Harris version, I think it's all on YouTube.)
Yep, I am officially an Ibsen admirer. Longer review-thoughts to come.(less)
I rather liked the other two Ibsen plays I've read (A Doll's House and Enemy of the People) but I wasn't crazy about this one. At all.
I won't pretend...moreI rather liked the other two Ibsen plays I've read (A Doll's House and Enemy of the People) but I wasn't crazy about this one. At all.
I won't pretend that it's poorly written. Ibsen creates a story here that is remarkably well-populated by characters you'll just love to hate. Oh, wait, correction. I was okay with Aunt Julle. She is my idea of a generally decent, if 'impassionate,' person. So there's the ONE example of human goodness in the play, but there are (obviously - it's Ibsen) many more examples of human yuck, in my humbleish opinion. In spite of feeling a few tweaks of situational sympathy for Hedda, Jörgen, Thea, Ejlert et al., you really won't like them. And I'm not saying this sarcastically - that takes some talent on the part of the playwright. It feels like a soap opera. Lots of cheap drama (no pun intended) between the figures, and a clangity-bang payoff at the end that left me cringing.
Otherwise? The plot's pretty lacklustre, though it could just be dated. There's also the question of whether or not I have a good translation; it is a pretty old one. Anyway, my entire reaction to this play consists of Meh so I'll spend no more time on it.(less)
So, I've read it. Now I just await SEEING it. One can't really judge a play until one has actually experienced it: the script on its own is such a tin...moreSo, I've read it. Now I just await SEEING it. One can't really judge a play until one has actually experienced it: the script on its own is such a tiny piece of the art.(less)
This is my favourite play so far from my Modern Canadian Drama course's reading list. It's sardonic and "meta" without being overwhelmingly, pretentio...moreThis is my favourite play so far from my Modern Canadian Drama course's reading list. It's sardonic and "meta" without being overwhelmingly, pretentiously so; it's serious without being didactic; it's moving without collapsing upon the exhausted bedsprings of melodrama. I could see the whole thing in my head, the teepee made of light, the bleeding moon, the sickening-funny-parodic vaudeville.
Perhaps this is more obvious to others, but it took me a little while to realize: both the first and second Acts are episodic, in their own ways - and as such they both are interpretations, showing mere "highlights" interlocked in a narrative fashion. We, white audiences, read our own expectations and conventions for dramatic structure into this play when really those conventions may not be there, or only their shadows may be. Daniel David Moses, a First Nations playwright himself, has playfully and masterfully written this play so that the storytelling tradition of his own culture is evident, yet in our dominant-culture ignorance we tend to mask it for ourselves. When I saw how this works, I could appreciate the complexity of this deceptively simple story much more fully.
I also love the idea of whiteface. Some of my classmates felt it was racist, and from a very objective perspective I suppose it is. I looked on it, though, more as an appropriation of colonial methods of appropriation. Metappropriation, huzzah! I jest. But seriously, there are so many more resonances to the whiteface than merely reversing the direction of racism (for example, the idea that Ghost and Interlocutor are actually ghosts).
Wish I could say more, but a) I have to think about it some more; b) I have another class to get to (for which I totally didn't do the assigned Faulkner reading; f*** that shit). I have no doubt this is a play I'll return to read, and hopefully one day SEE, many many times.(less)