Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Theater Excursion

Between the statistics course last week, all of the butterfly eggs and hatching larvae in the lab at the moment and the general level of nuttiness around here right now, I’m tired of talking butterflies. What to do when you are feeling uninspired? Taking a tip from friends who blog, I’ll do a top ten list, completely unrelated to science and nature. Here are my top ten favorite plays ever (in no particular order):

1. The Glass Menagerie

I didn’t go to the movies, I went someplace much further. Unfortunately, bad productions abound. In capable hands, Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece can still reduce me to sniffles.

2. The Fifth of July

I’d want to be friends with almost anyone in Lanford Wilson’s cast of oddball characters. Warm and moving.

3. The Tempest

Why The Tempest out of all of Shakespeare’s comedies? I’ve always suspected that my love for this play is partly at an unconscious level- appropriate for a play where Jungian archetypes are encountered around every corner. It’s also the source of the plot line for a science fiction film called Forbidden Planet with more than a passing nod to Freud (monsters of the Id). It has entered my dreams on more than one occasion.

4. Yerma

How does one even begin to discuss Lorca? My Spanish is at a level where understanding the original language is a struggle, but it’s worthwhile. This is Lorca at his most lyrical. A Spanish peasant named Yerma struggles with being barren. The language of the play could only have been written by a poet of Lorca’s caliber. Best appreciated untranslated.

5. Othello

Is jealousy the perfect subject for a tragic play? Is Iago the best villain ever? Picking a favorite from Shakespeare is nearly impossible- I’ll go with Othello because of my strong affirmation to both of these questions.

6. Huis Clos

Once upon a time, I could read No Exit in Sartre’s original French. Those days are long gone, but the play remains an amazingly crafted existentialist exercise.

7. School for Scandal

The only play on my list that I have actually performed in. Mr. Crabtree, at your service. This was during my days in the gay alliance (AKA drama club) in college. A British comedy of manners from the late 18th century, the humor still hits home.

8. The Lady’s Not for Burning

Written in the 1940s, but set in the 15th century. Is Jenette Jourdemayne, the lady of the title, a witch? Accused of turning the town drunk into a dog, she seems wearily resigned to burning, in contrast to soldier Thomas Mendip who is just weary. Mendip is attempting suicide by trying to convince the town fathers that he has committed murder. The two lovers (of course they fall for each other) encounter a misdirection of concern by the town fathers eerily reminiscent of the Rovian White House.

9. Our Town

Yes, it’s sappily, sloppily sentimental. Yes there is a danger of going into insulin shock during the performance. I guess this one’s kind of a guilty pleasure for me. I don’t care- I like it.

10. Blithe Spirit

Delightfully silly in a way that only Coward can be. I’ve never been inclined towards drag at all, but were I ever to do it, I think I’d want to channel Madame Arcati.



At 20:21, Blogger Ur-spo said...

t"his play is partly at an unconscious level appropriate for a play where Jungian archetypes are encountered around every corner."

What kind of weirdos do you hang out with who use such words?

At 22:18, Blogger steve'swhirlyworld said...

I like TGM and OT too...nice plays. How are you and Michael connected? You sound like you have a lot of the same interests.

At 02:50, Blogger Tony said...

WOOOOOO!! You're mixing in something new. We all run into our writing slumps. Its good to take a breather or to try something new. Love the Glass Menagerie
and of course the classic...The Tempestg.

At 05:50, Blogger Lemuel said...

"O brave new world, that hath such people in it!" :)

At 07:49, Blogger Doug said...

Michael and I are old friends. He's the one who led me down this whole primrose path of blogging. It's not the first time he's led me astray.

At 09:56, Blogger Ur-spo said...

Actually doug is an crazed mental patient who breaks out, runs away and periodically gets captured and locked up again - hence his fascination with nets and capture.....
I mean that in a good way.

At 09:57, Blogger Ur-spo said...

and besides he introduced me to Sudoku so turnabout is fair play, no?

At 06:03, Blogger Gary Lee Phillips said...

Now this is something different. :) Your choices are all good ones, but oddly, not a one of them would make my top ten list. I'm heavier on Shakespeare, you could probably guess that, but I think I'd pick these (rank is not significant):

The Importance of Being Ernest (Oscar Wilde)
Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare)
Macbeth (Shakespeare)
The Skin of Our Teeth (Thornton Wilder)
Lysistrata (Aristophanes)
Zoo Story (Edward Albee)
The Sandbox (Edward Albee)
The Wild Duck (Henrik Ibsen)
Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)
All My Sons (Arthur Miller)

List subject to change from day to day, I think. It depends on mood.

At 22:22, Blogger mark said...

Since about five of my favorite literary pieces are on your top ten, I must share something in common, so THANKS A LOT! NOW I have to go research those other 5. No really, thanks.


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