Some theatre each day keeps the doctor away…

Signs of Life

with 5 comments

Saw Signs of Life tonight.  Took me about two minutes to realise what a waste of time the rest of it would  be.  And I was right!

Most of the play is spent with the four characters slowly revealing their backstories, backstories which are constantly hinted at – the audience realises there is a mystery, but doesn’t know what it is.

First rule of playwriting: don’t keep secrets from the audience.

I read that recently, and I certainly agree with it.  I was wondering, while watching the play, whether Chekhov kept any secrets, but I don’t think he did.  Any backstory that his characters talked about…  Well, it wasn’t hinted at – that is, the audience had no idea about it before, so there wasn’t any sense of missing out.  Plus it wasn’t sprung out at the last moment as an explanation of something amiss.

The book was saying – I think it was Northrop Frye on Shakespeare – that one of the main pleasures of theatre is dramatic irony, basically.  That is, knowing more than the characters.  In Signs of Life, we knew less than the characters.  Not even the same as the characters.

Whereas in a novel, methinks, knowing the same or less than the characters can be much more effective.  Perhaps Tim Winton should stick to novels (not that I’ve read any of his novels yet – though I plan to) while he figures out the difference between novels and playwriting.  (Great Expectations – I think it would be nowhere near as effective, say, if we knew that Magwitch was the benefactor before Pip does.)

Actually, as a whole, we knew the same as the characters in Signs for Life, but at the start each character didn’t know about the other characters, and we learnt parallel with them.  Something like that.  But we knew we were missing out.  As did the other characters.  Oh, what does it matter.  It was crap.

Finished Finnegans Wake, and meant to write a nice long blog post about it (assuming I have that much to say), but completely forgot, and now I want to go to bed.  Started the Iliad.


Written by epistemysics

November 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. I think you ought to be congratulated


    November 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm

  2. I finally know someone who read finnegans wake. WOW


    November 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm

  3. Arigatou, arigatou, Japan-san.

    It’s the most difficult book in the English language, right? (Not that I understood any more than 5% of it.) What is there left to do with my life? I can only read long books now – never anything more complicated. Got plenty of longer books, though.


    November 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm

  4. Teaching english isn’t a cake walk unfortunately… but if you fake it a little you could end dup working with little kids…


    November 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

  5. What’s the first word you teach people?


    November 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm

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