Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who Will Take A Risk

I made some great headway this week -- revised 6 chapters! 

I think I overcame some confusion I had about the play.  (In my book, The Red Coat, a troupe of actors stage a play inspired by an ancient Greek myth about true love.)
When I first wrote those chapters, I had a lot of technical issues.  Mostly it came down to how to present the play.  Do I describe it in prose or do I put the scenes in dramatic form with dialogue and stage directions?  I tried writing them out in dramatic form, but the transitions to the rest of the novel, which is written in prose, seem abrupt.   

The other problem is I'm trying to capture the world of the theater, but I don't have much firsthand experience with it.  I went to film school and have worked in the movie business, both on and off the set, but I didn't study drama, don't have any experience writing plays or too much experience acting in them either.

So, I've been immersing myself in that world, reading plays and essays on playwriting and going to the theater whenever I have the chance.  I saw Annette Bening in Medea at UCLA and the production of Electra at the Getty Villa. Thanks to an invite from my fellow masterminder, Linda, I'm going to see Moliere's Tartuffe at the Actor's Gang (Tim Robbins' acting company in Culver City) on Friday night.  A couple weeks ago I immersed myself in Benjamin Britton's opera The Turn of The Screw in a day-long program at the Getty that the museum puts on annually in conjunction with the LA Opera.

I don't have it figured out yet, but one thing I'm going to try to do -- is take a risk.

My picture this week is a snapshot of some of the books I was reading this week.  What inspired me most was reading the plays of the ancient Greek comic poet, Aristophanes, and the introduction to the collection of plays by Moses Hadas, who wrote: "Aristophanes erases the world that is and constructs another."  That is what I want!  Another!

In one of the plays (see an excerpt below from The Frogs translated by R. H. Webb), Dionysus goes to Hades to bring Euripides back from the dead because Athens has no good tragic poets left.  Before he leaves, Dionysus tells Heracles (whom he's consulted on how to get around in the underworld) that he wants a poet who takes a risk:
Heracles: But surely myriads of little men
Still scribble for the Tragic Boards up there,
Ouprattling your Euripides a mile.

Dionysus: Mere nubbins, with a silly gift of gab;
Shrill swallow choirs, murderers of Art!
One single play produced, and they are spent -
Small piss-ants, fouling up the bed of Tragedy!
What potent poet can you find today,
To father one full-bodied, ringing phrase?

Heracles:  Potent? You mean...?

Dionysus:  A poet who will risk
A bold, a reckless utterance, such as
Aether, the Inglenook of Zeus; Time's tread;
The mind refused its solemn oath to plight,
The Tongue was perjured, in the mind's despite!

Heracles:  You like that stuff?

Dionysus:  I'm mad about it!

Heracles: Pshaw!

Aristophanes, who wrote those lines in 405BC, made me think, what would happen if I took a risk like that?

1 comment:

Cynthia Wylie said...

Ooooh. I love this post. It is completely inspiring. I am risking so much right now in my life, and experiencing much angst over it, as you know. This post imparts a little bravery to me. I have to buck up!!! (And drink some more wine).