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Posts from the ‘plays’ Category

11
Sep

#AWW2019 Mary Anne Butler (playwright)

 

Conclusion:

  1. Some plays should not be analyzed…they just have to sink in.
  2. Mary Anne Butler
  3. …has written a phenomenal script.
  4. It is intimate, realistic and breathtaking drama.
  5. Three characters weave their story
  6. ….criss-crossing their lives with each other.
  7. I read the play 4 times:
  8. 1 x reading the role of Ham (man driving on desert road)
  9. 1 x the role of Ash (female in car accident)
  10. 1 x Mia (Ham’s wife…home alone after a great loss).
  11. Now I was ready to read the play
  12. with the voices echoing in my mind.
  13. This is THE best play I’ve read in a very….long time!
  14. Strong point:
  15. Stellar example of dramatic construction (dramaturgy)
  16. and …inventive dialogue!
  17. #MustRead….really a must!

4
Jul

#Play The Weir

Playwright:  Conor McPherson (1971)
Title: The Weir (1997)
Theme: loneliness.   Setting: pub in isolated town western Ireland
Trivia: Won Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play 1997.
Trivia: Was voted one of the 100 most significant plays in 20th C
Genre: pastoral play. It gives the reader a slice of rural Irish life.

 

Analysis:

 

1. Explain the title. The Weir In what way is it suitable to the story?
a. OLD – The weir is a barrier whose function originally was a fence made of sticks or wattles built across streams or rivers that trap fish. It acts as a sieve.
b. NEW – The weir refers to a local dam built in 1951 to regulate water and generate power. c. The title is suitable as a symbol between the contrasts in the play: old vs modern; world of folklore vs contemporary life; between agricultural tradition vs 20th C modern development.

2. What is the predominant element in the story – plot, theme, character, setting?
Jack: garage owner, 50’s
Brendan: the owner of the pub 30’s (only listens, no story to tell)
Jim: garage assistant, 40’s
Finbar Mack: a local businessman late 40’s
Valerie: a Dublin woman 30.

3. Who is the single main character about whom the story centers?
Jack: is the main character. He undergoes the greatest change.
b. He is the talkative leader of the barflys, ‘old-school’ Irish,
c. devoted to the national beverage of Guinness.
d. Finbar: (foil for Jack) ‘get rich quick’ Irish real estate man, flashy, content to drink
e. the ‘last beer anyone would choose’ bottled Harp.
f. Valerie: incomer; city folk, drinks white wine; Brendan is flustered….Wine?
g. He finally finds a bottle he received as a gift.
h. When pouring her glass he fills it up as he would a pint.

4. How does the story get started?
The play opens on a stormy night in Brendan’s pub.
b. A rural Irish pub is located in an isolated town in County Leitrim.
c. Brendan, the owner of the pub, opens the bar, fills the till and checks the beer taps.
d. Jack and Jim (his regulars) are gathering for their daily pint.

5. Briefly describe the rising action of the story.
The action in the play is very subtle. The arrival of a stranger from Dublin city, a beautiful woman (Valerie). She has just rented an old house in the area.
The barflys want to impress her or perhaps scare her off (?) …with eerie stories about souls past, spirits present, ghosts and …half-haunted encounters. It is an authentic night drinking with locals who have the gift of blarney.

6. What is the high point, or climax, of the story?
a. 4: Valerie’s true story…(read the play and discover this for yourself!)

7. Discuss the falling action or close of the story.
After Valerie’s story the mood changes.
Jack’s talk with Brendan and Valerie is the last…..it is a confession.
McPherson bookends the play.
Brendan closes the bar.

 

Conclusion:

  1. This was my first one-act play.
  2. It should be tightly compressed, short,
  3. …with playing time max forty-five minutes.
  4. A single setting (pub) should be a ‘pressure-cooker play’.
  5. The energy should build up, ready to blow off the pan’s cover.
  6. This play is ninety minutes long on stage.
  7. The play felt like it was quietly simmering on the back-burner.

 

a. Weak point….but not really!

  1. No real conflict. But I’ve learned that play writing is NOT all about conflict.
  2. The power of the play derives from the
  3. power of argument in the dialogue.
  4. The story  about transition….people realize that their
  5. beloved village, rural life is becoming the thing of the past.

b. Weak point…but not really!

  1. I was looking for the ‘lilt of Irish humor, the
  2. …capacity to make rapid and irresistible remarks.
  3. In this play I only chuckled twice:
  4. at the beginning (defect beer tap) and
  5. at the end (who are the Germans, really?)
  6. Perhaps McPherson choses to embed the humor in gestures
  7. …..intonation of the voice that is impossible to relate to while reading a play.

c. Weak point….really!

  1. The play contains 3 ghost stories barflys tell each other
  2. that were not scary.

 

Last thoughts:

  1. This play does not come to life on paper.
  2. It….MUST have actors to relate the emotions in the dialogue.
  3. I read the play twice before making a conclusion.
  4. I want to see if I missed something

 

  1. The only way to really enjoy the play is to see a stage performance.
  2. Playwright’s task is to create stories that generate emotional responses.
  3. The rhythm of the language is as important as the words themselves.
  4. Conor McPherson uses the smallness of a tiny Irish village
  5. …in the service of bigness.
  6. He illustrates the difference between fading rural life
  7. …and the encroaching urban lifestyle.
2
Jun

#Play Waiting For Godot

 

Conclusion:

  1. Reading time: 1 hour 40 min
  2. Waiting for Godot  is theater of absurd.
  3. Beckett thought the audience
  4. …MUST feel what it is like to be in an ABSURD world.
  5.  Beckett used bizarre characters speak in what sometimes
  6. …appears to be illogical, banal, chit chat.
  7. One cannot read Godot for the story because there is no story
  8. Waiting for Godot does not tell a story
  9. It explores a situation….2 tramps..waiting for Godot.
  10. What are the abusrd characteristics?
  11. No plot, no recognizable characters, no beginnings no ends,
  12. …reflections of dreams and nightmares, incoherent babblings.

 

Last Thoughts:

  1. The only way to gain any insight is to
  2. read a summary before starting this play.
  3. I used this LINK at Free Online Dictionary website.
  4. This is an excellent summary.
  5. Waiting for Godot
  6. …left critics bewildered and is now a classic.
  7. Nr. 7 on List 50 Best Play in Past 100 yrs.
  8. I was absolutely dreading this play...
  9. Need #Heineken

 

 

 

 

29
May

#Play Noises Off by Michael Frayn

 

Introduction:

  1. The play has received two major Broadway productions and
  2. …numerous regional ones in the United States,
  3. United Kingdom, and  other countries in Europe and Asia.
  4. In response to its popularity, Frayn has continued to
  5. rewrite the play in the thirty years since he first wrote it.

 

Conclusion:

  1. For once a blurb has lived up to expectations
  2. …this is surely the funniest farce ever written!
  3. This play-in-a-play left me laughing out loud!
  4. Noises Off  (1982) by Michael Frayn.
  5. It is said to be one of the
  6. ...greatest comedies ever preformed on stage!
  7. Reading the introduction…and discover the first laugh!
  8. Prague: play performed without Act 3 for 10 years…
  9. NO one noticed until Frayn arrived for a show!
  10. The play is available on Kindle.
  11. Reading time: 2 hr 55 min
  12. Perfect poolside
  13. …reading this summer.
  14. #LOL

 

26
May

#Non-fiction August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle

 

Introduction:

  1. August Wilson understood the power of the theater.
  2. He used it to its full potential by
  3. …inserting honesty and realism into every play.
  4. Some consider August Wilson “America’s Shakespeare”.
  5. August Wilson was an American playwright
  6. …who did the unheard of- penning ten plays.
  7. …one for each decade of the 20th C.

 

  1.  Wilson received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama:
  2.  Fences (1987), The Piano Lesson (1990)
  3. These 10 plays gives a glimpse into
  4. …American history through the
  5. …lens of the Black experience.
  6. August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle is a
  7. …series of critical essays about the plays.
  8. I have reviewed the first 5 essays
  9. …you can discover the rest of the book yourself!

 

Conclusion:

  1. Essays 1-6 were interesting
  2. Essays 7-13 …seemed to repeat many thoughts
  3. about two plays: Gem of the Ocean and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.
  4. Weak point: the essays do  NOT explain all 10 plays
  5. One of the most famous play is Fences  NOT reviewed!
  6. It is considered  the African-American version
  7. ot The Death of a Salesman
  8. A few essays were very instructive about…
  9. Seven Guitars, The Piano Lesson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  10. ….but still feel  that the book
  11. does not live up to my expectations.
  12. #Disappointed

 

Plays:

 

Essays:

1. The  emancipated century – J.H. Scott  ( 2 plays discussed) – easy to read

  1. Play: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone 
  2. Set in 1911… the play is about African Americans cut adrift  by
  3. The Great Migration to the North and by slavery from their African past.
  4. The  characters meet in a boarding house
  5. They represent a cross-section of  African Americans.
  6. The boarders are  in the midst of a
  7. …massive search for their “song,” or identity.

 

  1. Play: The Piano Lesson
  2. Set in 1936…this is a …
  3. Family conflict between Bernice and her
  4. …brother Boy Willie about the family piano.
  5. For Boy Willie the piano is a way to get some quick cash to buy land. 
  6. For Bernice, the piano is a source of strength.
  7. It reminds her of the courage and endurance shown by her ancestors.
  8. Boy Willie looks to the future
  9. …while Bernice looks to the past.

 

2. Situated identity in The Janitor (J. Zeff):  short essay about a play that is NOT in the cycle.

  1. The Janitor is a 1985  4 minute play.
  2. A janitor is someone society ignores.
  3. He is left to sweep the floor.
  4. The janitor gets an idea.
  5. …sees a microphone in an empty hall
  6. …and just starts talking.
  7. Messageidentity is a work in progress which is in your control,
  8. “…but what you are now ain’t what you gonna become.”

 

3. Two Trains Running (S. Saddler, P. Bryant-Jackson) – This essay did not appeal to me. SKIM!

  1. This was a  comparison of two books by
  2. American scholars Living Black History, M. Marable and
  3. The Archive and the Repertoire, D. Taylor.
  4. Where is the play?
  5. I noticed they referred to the play
  6. Two Trains Running  but do NOT review this play at length
  7. …so I decided to skim this essay and
  8. …investigate the Pulitzer Prize 1992 play on Wikipedia.
  9. I learned more on Wiki…than in his essay!

 

4. World War II History (E. Bonds) – excellent essay,  I learned a lot about the difficult period just after WW II.  Black men struggle to move on after the war. They feel they are not benefiting from the post WW II economic boom.  They feel like…they are still fighting.

  1. Play: Seven Guitars
  2. Set in 1948…
  3. …The play begins and ends after the funeral of one of the main characters.
  4. Events leading to the funeral  are revealed in flashbacks.
  5. The essay explains the 7 characters (7 guitars) and their
  6. individual out-of-tune chords (life experiences).
  7. What I did not realize was how important the boxer
  8. Joe Lewis was for the African American community.
  9. Wilson uses Lewis’s fame and downfall as an essential part of the play.
  10. It is so sad to read that  African American GI’s were fighting
  11. …on two fronts:
  12. the enemy overseas….and racism at home.

 

5. Stereotype and Archetype in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (M. Downing) – best explanation difference stereotype vs archetype I’ve ever read.  Excellent essay, lucidly-written, logically-structured, and convincingly argued.

  1. Play: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  2. Set in 1920s…the historic exploitation of
  3. black recording artists by white producers.
  4. The essay explains how August Wilson started with
  5. stereotypes assigned by whites to blacks in the play.
  6. Then he remakes them into archetypes.
  7. I would have missed this
  8. …completely by just reading the play!
  9. Wilson places the stereotype (ST) at the beginning of the play
  10. …adds monologues…adds POV of African American characters
  11. …draws the original ST (evokes criticism, suspicion, scorn)
  12. …into an archetype (evokes empathy, understanding, compassion)
  13. Example: Ma Rainey is introduced as
  14. ST: chaotic, unreasonable, difficult, a risk with the law
  15. Wilson breaks this ST into components and rebuilds Ma as
  16. AT: mother, queen, goddess
20
May

#20BooksOfSummer 2019

  • I just love this photo from last years’s post #20BooksOfSummer 2018.
  • I’m using it again because it always makes me smile and
  • …I have the urge to make a  Gin & Tonic !

 

Read:

  1. Glengarry Glen RossD. Mamet READ
  2. The Glass MenagerieTennessee WilliamsREAD
  3. Waiting for GodotS. BeckettREAD
  4. Twenty-First Century American PlaywrightsC. BigsbyREAD
  5. The Mueller Report READ
  6. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of FreedomD. Blight – READ
  7. Stamped From the Beginning I.X. Kendi – READ
  8. The New Negro: The Life of Alain LockeJ.C. Stewart  – READ
  9. The ArsonistC. Hooper – READ
  10. HimselfJess Kidd – READ
  11. August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle (13 essays) – editor S. Shannon #20BoS – READ
  12. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  – E. Ablee – READ  (play
  13. Noises OffM. Frayn – READ  (play)
  14. FencesA. Wilson – READ  (play)
  15. Streetcar Named DesireT. Williams – READ
  16. Blakwork – A. Whittaker – READ
  17. James Tiptree, jr. The Double Life Alice Sheldon – J. Phillips – READ 
  18. Ghosts of the Tsunami R. L. Parry READ
  19. Indecent (play) – Paula Vogel READ
  20. The Heart’s Invisible Furies – J. Boyne – READ
  21. The Coddling of the American MInd G. Lukianoff, J. Haidt – READ
  22. Astonished Dice – G. Cochrane (short stories) – READ
  23. We Can Make a Life – C. Henry – READ
  24. Seeing Yellow (poetry) – E. Bourke – READ  shortlist Irish Times Poetry Award 2019
  25. The Weir (1997) by Conor McPherson – READ
  26. The First CasualtyPeter Greste – READ
  27. Max HavelaarMultatuli – READ
  28. 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to WriteS. Ruhl – READ
  29. These TruthsJill Lepore – READ

 

Using this list for #20BooksOfSummer….

#Challenge read 50 Best Plays in the Past 100 Years:     13/50

  1.  Death of a Salesman (1949) by Arthur Miller (Pulitzer 1949) – READ 
  2.  Streetcar Named Desire – T. Williams – READ
  3. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? E. Albee (Pulitzer 1963 READ
  4.  Long Day’s Journey into Night (1956) by Eugene O’Neill  – READ
  5. Fences – A. Wilson – READ 
  6. Angels in America: T. Kushner
  7. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett – READ 
  8.  Pygmalion (1913) by George Bernard Shaw
  9.  A Raisin in the Sun (1959) by Lorraine Hansberry READ 
  10.  Our Town (1938) by Thornton Wilder
  11.  Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921) by Luigi Pirandello
  12. The Glass Menagerie (1944) by Tennessee Williams – READ
  13. Glengarry Glen RossD. Mamet – READ
  14. August: Osage County (2007) by Tracy Letts
  15.  True West (1980) by Sam Shepard READ 
  16.  The Iceman Cometh (1946) by Eugene O’Neill
  17.  Look Back in Anger (1956) by John Osborne
  18.  A View from the Bridge (1955) by Arthur Miller – READ
  19.  The Little Foxes. (1939) by Lillian Hellman
  20.  The Real Thing (1982) by Tom Stoppard
  21.  Master Harold and the Boys (1982) by Athol Fugard
  22.  The Homecoming (1965) by Harold Pinter
  23.  Ruined (2008) by Lynn Nottage (2009)
  24.  Mother Courage and Her Children (1941) by Bertolt Brecht
  25.  Six Degrees of Separation (1990) by John Guare
  26.  Doubt (2004) by John Patrick Shanley
  27.  Top Girls (1982) by Caryl Churchill
  28.  Present Laughter (1942) by Noel Coward
  29. Noises Off – M. Frayn – READ 
  30. Marat/Sade (1964) by Peter Weiss
  31.  The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2001) by Martin McDonagh
  32.  Machinal (1928) by Sophie Treadwell
  33.  The Norman Conquests(1973) trilogy by Alan Ayckbourn
  34.  The Bald Soprano (1950) by Eugene Ionesco
  35.  M. Butterfly (1988) by David Henry Hwang
  36.  The Dybbuk (1920) by S Ansky
  37.  Saved (1965) by Edward Bond
  38. Topdog/Underdog (2002) by Suzan-Lori Parks 
  39. The Front Page (1928) by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
  40. Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1970) by Dario Fo.
  41. Picnic (1953) by William Inge
  42. Journey’s End (1928) by R.C. Sherriff
  43. The Odd Couple (1965) by Neil Simon
  44. The Orphans Home cycle – 3 one act plays by Horton Foote (masterpieces!)
  45. The Women. (1936) by Clare Boothe Luce
  46. What The Butler Saw (1969) by Joe Orton
  47. Awake and Sing! (1935) by Clifford Odets
  48. The Piano Lesson (1987) by A. Wilson
  49. Uncommon Women and Others (1977) by Wendy Wasserstein
  50. The Weir (1997) by Conor McPherson- READ

 

16
May

#AWW2019 Nakkiah Lui (playwright)

  • Author: Nakkiah Lui (1991)  Gamillaroi and Torres Strait Islander woman
  • Title: Black is the New White
  • Published: 2019 (book)
  • Opening night: 10 May 2017 Sydney Theatre Company
  • Genre: play (romantic comedy)
  • Trivia: Indigenous issues
  • Trivia: 2018 winner NSW Lit Award for Playwriting
  • Trivia: 2018 shortlist Victorian Premier’s Award Drama
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters
  • @AllenandUnwin

 

Quickscan:

  1. Young couple Charlotte Gibson and
  2. Francis Smith are newly engaged.
  3. But their fathers are political rivals.
  4. The Gibson and Smith families gather for Christmas lunch.
  5. Unexpected guests, sudden self-realizations
  6. …and family secrets disrupt their meal.
  7. Themes: land rights, politics, relationships, identity, class.
  8. Question: What is it to be Aboriginal and middle class?

 

Structure:

  1. 7 scenes
  2. 8 characters:
  3. Engaged couple (20s)  Charlotte and Francis
  4. Their respective parents (50-60s) Joan, Ray, Maire and Dennison
  5. Daughter (nr 2) and son-in-law (30s) Rose and Sonny

 

Dialogue:

  1. To speed up the pace Nakkiah uses overlapping dialogue.
  2. The idea was to write dialogue
  3. …the way people really speak
  4. …so that characters cut off the
  5. beginnings and ends of each other’s sentences.
  6. Full revelation of emotions is transformed into comedy.
  7. At times it feels like community (scene 3-4-5-6)
  8. ….and at times like chaos! (scene 7)

 

References: 

  1. To give the play a very culturally modern feel we read about a
  2. virtual reality mask, twitter, Michell Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton,
  3. Kim and Kayne Kardishan, Beyoncé and JayZ, Martin Luther King,
  4. Waleed Aly, Alicia Keyes,
  5. Netflix series House of Cards and the movie Cluesless.

 

Narrator:

  1. Lui uses a technique of the narrator to
  2. give the audience/reader the backstory.
  3. The narrator comments on action, adds insight
  4. …on characters, stage elements
  5. …developing a precise and complete character persona.

 

Conclusion:

  1. I will not reveal any spoilers
  2. …..the play should be read with a clean slate.
  3. You will enjoy the unfinished battles
  4. …in the character’s public and private lives!
  5. We follow the maze from character to character….
  6. …with the climatic scene 7
  7. …which includes 15 ‘bombshells’ of information!
  8. In Black is the New White (title revealed in scene 4)
  9. …you meet 8 characters  who
  10. challenge stereotypes of
  11. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  12. With Nakkiah Lui’s  comic descriptions of
  13. their personal interaction and commentary
  14. …you have an unforgettable romantic comedy
  15. …and many life lessons.
  16. #MustRead   #MustLaugh
5
May

#AWW2019 Winner NSW Lit Award for Drama

Awards:

  • Triivia: 2019 Prize for Drama: NSW Literary Awards
  • Trivia: 2019 Prize for Drama: Victorian Premier’s Award
  • Trivia: 2018  Judges’ Award  Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting
  • Trivia: 2018 Best New Play at the UK Theatre Awards

 

Quickscan:

  1. The play centers on a young woman (Anna).
  2. She  has been medicated for a range of mood and
  3. behavioral disorders since she was a child.
  4. Now she wants to find out what
  5. ...her life would be like without pills.
  6. The play takes an unflinching look at
  7. mental illness and medication among young people.

 

What is the structure of the play?

  1. Act 1 (7 scenes) – reading time:  1 hr 30 min
  2. Act 2  (6 scenes) – reading time:        50 min

 

Cover:

  1. There are two book covers
  2. ….that convey different messages.
  3. Daughter: breaking free…carefree and in control of her life
  4. …after she chooses to stop her mental illness medication.
  5. Mother:  having spent years keeping her daughter safe
  6. …is powerless to stop her.

 

Daughter: Anna

Mother: Renée

What is the trigger in Act 1 ….something big at stake?

  1. Anna  suffers from mental
  2. ….heath issues (bipolar) since she was a child.
  3. In Act 1 she is 18 yr and decides
  4. …she wants to stop with her medication.
  5. This is a very scary decision she makes.
  6. It affects  everyone else around her.
  7. Her mother really struggles NOT to intervene.

 

What is the tension in the play?

  1. Anna has one desire…to stop medicating
  2. …and be in control of her life.
  3. The journey pursuing this desire forms the plot.
  4. The tension for the audience is
  5. the DOUBT that is aroused about Anna…
  6. “..will she or won’t she break free of the pills?”

 

  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Feaver generates a subtext (stories of 8 yr girl)
  3. ….that she can play off of in the play
  4. The history of what has happened
  5. moments that refer to the character’s past.
  6. are very important part of the play.

 

  1. Strong point:
  2. The play is deliberately intimidating
  3. …about a girl in a sudden state of crisis
  4. …to raise awareness
  5. …about youth’s mental health issues.
  6. Ms Kendall has done extensive research
  7. and spoken to many psychiatrists.
  8. It took Kendall Feaver 5 years to finish the script.

 

  1. Strong Point:
  2. Title: The Almighty Sometimes
  3. …has intrigued me from the beginning!
  4. It refers to an option on questionnaires:
  5. Never – Always – Sometimes.
  6. Sometimes....Anna is troubled
  7. …but sometimes  she is
  8. …good, kind and capable.
  9. It is a hard choice a mother
  10. …must make when answering
  11. …questions about her daughter.

 

Conclusion:

  1. 2-Act structure is a simple.
  2. It looks at the character’s journey
  3. …in he clinical world living day to day
  4. with a mental health condition.
  5. There is a routine of life between
  6. mother and daughter that passes for existence.
  7. Frenetic activity is expressed in the
  8. …dialogue with boyfriend Oliver
  9. …and psychiatrist Vivienne.
  10. Later this gives way to many
  11. moments of silence between daughter and mother.
  12. Anna  is  pushed to the extreme
  13. …as her internal and external worlds explode.
  14. Act 1 may feel a bit too long…but keep reading.
  15. Act 2 is where the fireworks display starts!

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Mother-daughter relationships are complex.
  2. Some mothers and daughters are best friends.
  3. Some avoid conflict.
  4. Others talk through everything…
  5. not so  between Anna and Renée!
  6. Strong point:
  7. The best part of the play…
  8. …as Kendall Feaver  shows us a
  9. snapshot of real life with a protective mother
  10. …and a daughter who feels she’s been lied
  11. …to, misunderstood and mis-diagnosed!
  12. The Almighty Sometimes is best seen on stage
  13. where sparks will fly between mother and daughter.
  14. Reading the play is the only alternative I have
  15. ….but am probably missing the best part:
  16. …the actors performance!

12
Mar

#Ireland Phillip McMahon (playwright)

 

  • Author: Phillip McMahon (1979)
  • Title: Come On Home
  • Opening night: July 2018
  • Location: The Peacock Theatre is situated under the Abbey foyer.
  • It is affiliated with Ireland’s National Theatre and
  • The Abbey Theatre.Abbey Theatre Dublin
  • Director: Rachel O’Riordan (1974)
  • Trivia: Nominated Best New Play Irish Times Theatre Awards
  • Winner: Announcement 31 March 2019
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #ReadingIrelandMonth19
  • @746books.com

 

Quickscan:

  1. The play is about a family forced
  2. …into a reunion under difficult circumstances.
  3. A family funeral is the best time to clear the air
  4. …and at the same time muddy the waters!
  5. The play deals with bigotry in a small town in Ireland.
  6. Characters talk about love, loss, abuse and drink.
  7. They must say difficult things.
  8. History and blood binds them
  9. but they don’t know each other.
  10. Michael hasn’t been home in almost twenty years.
  11. He was kicked out of the seminary and
  12. exiled from his family home.
  13. But now, the death of his mother sees him
  14. ….reunited with his two brothers
  15. …their partners and the local clergy.
  16. Questions must be answered.
  17. Scores met be settled.

 

Cast: 5 male actors – 2 female actors

  1. Brothers: Ray – Michael – Brian
  2. Clergy: Fr. Cleary – Fr. Seamus
  3. Partners: Aoife (Ray’s partner) – Martina (Brian’s wife)
  4. Setting: family living room, single setting = pressure-cooker play
  5. Secrets surface only under pressure.
  6. Strong emotions (despair, fear, anger) created by events
  7. Why does the character have difficulty telling these secrets?
  8. Is it fear? shame? pride?
  9. …that makes the words stick in the character’s throat?
  10. Theme: classic Irish drama –>  exile …then returning home

Conclusion:

  1. Phillip McMahon has created  2 act play with 8 scenes
  2. …that does NOT focus on a complex narrative plot line.
  3. He is interested in showing only the moments of intense conflict
  4. …that shape his characters.
  5. Ireland is changing and
  6. themes as a gay priest…are now on stage.
  7. This makes the play feel fresh, surprising, and compelling.
  8. The real excitement is the pivotal moment
  9. …the moment when all control is in the balance.
  10. We hold our breath!
  11. What is that moment in this play?
  12. I’ll let you discover that
  13. Will it win the Irish Times Theatre Award?
  14. Award will be announced on 31st of March!
  15. #PowerfulPlay
25
Feb

#Classic: Hamlet

 

Quickscan:

  1. Lovers:  Ophelia and Hamlet
  2. Focus: revenge – the obsession to avenge can drive one mad
  3. Family issue: Uncle kills Hamlet’s father and marries his mother (yikes!)
  4. Plot twist: ghost of King Hamlet wants revenge. Triggers entire play!
  5. Hook: Ghost in Act 1…all acts end with cliffhangers!!
  6. Genre:  Revenge play
  7. Pivotal acts:  Act 3 and Act 5
  8. Soliloquies:  7 spoken by Hamlet
  9. Tragic flaw Hamlet: overthinks everything! “To be or not to be…” (Act 3, 1)
  10. Villian: Claudius manipulative, ruthless
  11. Ophelia: weak character compared to Desdamona!
  12. Minor character who plays major role: Laertes
  13. Symbol: poison (weapon, manipulation and madness)
  14. Motif: spying (eavesdropping) to seek truth)
  15. Spies: Hamlet, Horatio, Reynaldo, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Polonius, King Claudius
  16. Victims: Queen, King, Ophelia, Hamlet, Laertes
  17. Shakespeare’s statement: “What a piece of work is man!” (Act 2, 2)
  18. Setting:  Elsinore Castle, Danish coast, graveyard
  19. Major themesrevenge, madness. death. appearance vs reality
  20. Minor themesambition, corruption
  21. …”Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”  (Act 1, 4)
  22. Body count: 9
  23. King Hamlet (before play starts)
  24. Queen Gertrude
  25. King Claudius
  26. Polonius
  27. Rosencrantz
  28. Guildenstern
  29. Ophelia
  30. Laertes
  31. Hamlet
  32. The only main character left
  33. …standing at the end is Horatio,
  34. …who is usually seen sitting on the ground,
  35. …cradling Hamlet’s corpse.
  36. So technically, he’s not standing.
    1 drowning
    2 beheadings
    1 simple stabbing
    2 simple poisonings and
    3 aggravated stabbings (poisoned blade/some poison)
  37. Now that’s what I call a tragedy!

 

Trend:   Theme: illusion vs reality

  1. In Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and Hamlet
  2. ….Shakespeare uses this theme to drive the plot.
  3. I will be looking at other plays by WS to see if he repeats this theme.
  4. Midsummer Night’s Dream: play-in-play (illusion)….is also used in Hamlet
  5. Othello: it appears Desdemona is having an affair ( lost handkerchief)…she is not.
  6. Hamlet: it appears Hamlet is in a legitimate duel…he is not, sword is poison tipped
  7. Hamlet: Claudius appears to be praying on his knees…he is not.
  8. Hamlet: Claudius must appear to be guiltless in death of Hamlet…he is not.
  9. Hamlet: Killing Hamlet must appear to be an accident….it is not, it is premeditated

 

Last thoughts:

  1. I have been avoiding this play for years
  2. …too difficult, complex plot.
  3. Finally I can strike this play off my Bucket List!
  4. I ordered the Kenneth Branagh’s film  Hamlet (1996)
  5. It is the only version that includes the complete text
  6. …nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
  7. …and is 4 hours long.
  8. #GetOutThePopcorn