I can't believe I forgot to review this last year. I read it in one sitting, and the friend at whose home I did the reading can attest to the fact tha...moreI can't believe I forgot to review this last year. I read it in one sitting, and the friend at whose home I did the reading can attest to the fact that I cried a lot during that sitting. And I certainly didn't forget it - in fact, I was looking it up here because I'm probably going to base one of my courses' major projects around it. Being both sick and busy at present, I'm not going to give this the full review it deserves (yet), but I'll copy in the blurb I wrote for a 30-Day Reading Challenge on Facebook, because it covers the basics of how I feel about this poignant piece of dramatic literature ...
Oil and Water is a recent and incredibly beautiful work by a key figure among modern Newfoundland writers. Chafe dramatizes the true story of Lanier Phillips, one of the only survivors of a 1942 shipwreck on the Burin Peninsula. Phillips was the first black man ever encountered by the locals who rescued him.
A review of the show from 2012 summarizes how this story "brings out the humanity in a small Newfoundland town" - the selflessness and tolerance shown by the residents of St. Lawrence. But one can't reduce any of this play to black and white (pun intended, I guess?): we catch a glimpse of the difficult, dangerous lives of St. Lawrence miners; we hear Phillips, much later and living to the U.S., trying to communicate their example of kindness to his daughter, a victim of hate crime. I'm not doing it any kind of justice, so you really should read it. Or even better (as with any play), see it. Someday I will, and I *know* I'm going to cry up a storm.(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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
(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.