Blog silence - ended!

Life is a jest, and all things show it;
I thought so once, and now I know it.

-The epitaph of John Gay

Ah no! Blog silence! What a terrible fate my blog has met amidst an unprecedentedly all-devouring work schedule....

Well, I will try to pop in now and again with a brief note on what I am up to. Lately it has been a non-stop roller-coaster of job applications (which, in the academic job market, are stunningly time-consuming), teaching prep, grading and dissertation-worrying (in the double sense of a terrier's attitude towards a bone and a mother's attitude towards an absent child as the curfew nears).

What have I been up to this weekend? Friday and Saturday were mad theatrical whirlwinds. On Friday I went to see a staged reading of John Gay's 18th C ballad opera, Polly, the sequel to his better known The Beggar's Opera. Only at Yale, eh? Although perhaps there is a wild ballad opera subculture somewhere in the world that performs little known three hundred year old works in charmingly dank, dilapidated cabaret basements - who knows? This reading was given by a combination of professors, grad students and undergrads and was terribly lively, as only a tale of racial masquerade, cross-dressing, piracy, bigamy, and sexual slavery -- with songs! -- could be.

Yesterday I went off to a graduate production of Brecht's early play Baal - for a change of pace, you know - and witnessed several rapes in ragged, almost-fully-naked-a-few-feet-away-from-me detail. It was a production that reveled in the squalor of bodily existence, shall we say. At one point, I must admit, I was spattered (in the second row, mind you) with fake urine from a character who was relieving herself onstage. Yeah.

Then, in the evening, I headed off to a former student's senior project: a very judiciously edited and rollickingly staged version of the two parts of Shakespeare's Henry IV. Most striking about the production, perhaps, was that a college-aged actor managed to embody Falstaff with such skill and gusto. The tavern scenes, which I normally find rather tedious (since they are filled to the brim with opaque and archaic wordplay), were played with particularly infectious vigor - actors spraying their drink on the audience out of laughter and surprise.

And as I dabbed at my rather damp self I thought: "Ah, the theatre.... When else do I get the opportunity to be peed on in the afternoon and spat on at night?"

6 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Heh---that first performance made me think back fondly to my MIT days, when there were plenty of musicals to attend.

    As for the second performance---blech. I'm no prude, but anyone putting on a performance involving fake urine spattering the audience is just going for the shock factor as far as I'm concerned. And I don't see the point to that.

    On the third---well okay, if the spitting of drinks and such contributed to making dull scenes more lively and entertaining, then at least I'll give them points for creativity!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hooray you're back!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The performances sound like they were quite entertaining, the interaction with the cast and props, less so.

  4. Melwyk says:

    Welcome back! Oh what a lovely round of theatre going...perhaps. It makes me a little nostalgic for those days of university theatre, but just a little. I can live without the fake urine spatter - how did the person in the front row escape?

  5. Anonymous says:

    And I like the quote from John Gay. One of my favorite theater experiences was an RSC presentation of The Beggar's Opera (I still listen to the CD soundtrack about once a month).
    Speaking of once a month - it's been just about that since your last post. I hope all is well and you're just very busy with something really exciting and fulfilling. I just received Flying Cranes from Netflix and am looking forward to seeing more than just the (very intriguing) clip you had on this site earlier this year.

  6. Thanks for the support, everyone! I am sorry that the horrors of my work schedule are keeping me away from blogging and conversing with you all more extensively. I hope to be back to my normal bloggy self in February or March.

    Maggie - I would LOVE to hearing what you think about "Cranes."

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