Some theatre each day keeps the doctor away…

The Battle With Form

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From Auden’s lectures on Shakespeare (though I’ve quoted this bit before):

“Shakespeare, in 1595, might have startled us very much, because in 1595 he was not interested in plays, but in poems and sonnets.  Highbrows then would have been much more interested in his advances in lyric poetry.  It is great luck that Shakespeare had no money and was forced into drama.  From observation and experience, one can say that circumstances in the theater create artistic problems that a dramatist must learn to meet.  Shakespeare had to study action, which was a bore.  So he had to find the rhetoric to make action interesting to him, and he thereby developed a rhetoric that enabled men of action such as Faulconbridge to transcend action and become interesting.”

That Auden thinks that Shakespeare thought action a bore intrigues me greatly.  I feel a definite connection to such a feeling, as well as the having to develop a rhetoric to make it interesting to himself.  While I’m not at the level of particularly overtly/consciously developing rhetoric for certain situations/characters with my blank verse (though I fully expect that to happen sometime in the future), I nevertheless find that the use of rhetoric (or rather, the use of a relatively difficult form such as blank verse) is a great motivator to keep on writing.  It’s the constant battle with the form that keeps it interesting.  I haven’t solved all the problems of my plot yet, not because it’s difficult, but because I haven’t been bothered to flesh it all out (I know where it will end up, and I always have that approximate target in mind, however).  But I’ve solved enough that, I think, if I were writing it in realistic dialogue, I would have been bored by now and stopped writing.  The two large pieces I’ve written which had realistic dialogue were only finished because I did them in a flash of inspiration over a fortnight each and never looked back – basically, I wrote it faster than I could think up the plot, in a way.

That every line is a battle is quite a comfort, I’m finding.  There’s a great freedom in restriction.  And a greater relish of freedom when there is a restriction, too.  (I think I’ve had one character say something along those lines in a speech, actually…  Which is somewhat weird, actually, because it’s become a very minor preoccupation of the play…)

But then again, I find I also have an interest in emotional crises – the climax of my play, for instance, is something that I eagerly look forward to reaching, so I can write the scene.  A lot of the stuff that comes beforehand (well, some of it), is mechanical.  Sort of.  Well…  I’m at the start of the second act and things are starting to pay off, subtexts are being added, situations are getting more complex, and so on.  Basically what I’m saying is that I wonder whether Shakespeare/any other dramatist ever found the exposition of their plays (ie, the first act) something that they were particularly interested in, something more than scenes just to be gotten past.  (Not that I’m not doing my best to make it entertaining for myself and the audience – there’s quite a few good moments, methinks, and a few good speeches at least.)

But over-analysing myself is dangerous when I’m writing a play, methinks.  0 lines on the play today.  How’s that for irony.

And now, thinking that I was going to go to bed not too late (around 3am) like I have the last few nights, have just discovered that my relatively early bedtime of 2.15am is actually 3.15am because Daylight Savings just kicked in.  Damn it.


Written by epistemysics

October 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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