Epistemysics

Some theatre each day keeps the doctor away…

A Little Googling Delight

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Guilty today of not googling myself, but my blog (ie, “Epistemysics”), I discovered that the Malthouse Theatre had quoted me in a “Prompt Pack” back in 2012, when the production of The Wild Duck that I saw in 2011 at Belvoir transferred down there.  (A link to it, for those of you interested.)   A Prompt Pack, from what I can gather, is like an education pack for the young’un’s who may see the show and wish to discuss it afterwards, with school and whatnot, I assume.

My quote was under a section entitled “What the Critics Have Said…”, where three critics – Alison Croggon, Darryn King, and myself, were quoted.  (August company indeed.)  Whoever compiled the Prompt Pack gave my excerpt a title, “On Memory and the Epic Nature of Tragedy…”, which chuffs me considerably, as it sounds awfully intelligent of me to talk about (which apparently, according to the extract, I did).

The extract, cut together from two parts of the review (sans ellipsis, but I’ll let it slide), is such:

“The collision between memory and plot is one of the most important foundations of storytelling in the theatre.  There are two main methods – at least that I can think of – to create a sense of the epic in an audience watching a play, especially a tragedy.  The first is through the manipulation of emotion – garnering empathy for the characters on stage, as well as the production of awe in an audience member.  The second is through the manipulation of memory – plotting done in such a way as to give the illusion of a specific length of time.  Manipulation of emotion adds feeling to a play.  Manipulation of memory adds depth.  (Ellipsis should have gone here.)  The Wild Duck felt epic was because it was filled to the brim with important events – it didn’t matter that there was very little time between each of them (30+ scenes in less than 90 minutes, I think), it was the quantity and quality that mattered.  What I was trying to argue for was that all of this concentration, this distillation, is possible, because of how our minds and memory works.  We don’t think in time, we think in important events.  In fact, we’re horrible, terrible, at thinking in terms of time.  We think not in seconds, but in moments.”

Quite happy with that quote, actually.  I think it stands up well enough.  There’s like a thousand words in the middle missing, but that’s all me working it all out in my head, so probably not needed in the end.

Then there’s these “Prompts”, such as, “What type of information does each of the reviews give you about the play?”  (I’m just going to list them.)  “What questions do you have after reading each extract?  What makes you curious?”  “How would you describe the type of language used in each review?”  “REVISIT these extracts after seeing the production and see which reviewers you agree and disagree with.”  “Literature – Alternative viewpoints (you could find it useful to follow the links and read the full review on this one).”  “All three reviewers saw the same play (although not necessarily the same performance).  What assumptions are these writers making about their audience?  What type of language is being used to convey their opinion?  How do you account for the differences in their description and analysis?”

To be honest, I’m quite delighted by all of this.  Partially because it’s nice to be noticed, etc, etc, and it’s nice to be validated, etc, etc, and it’s a good stroke of the ego; but mainly I think it has to do with a slight sadistic pleasure in the thought that schoolchildren could be forced by a teacher to discuss something I’ve written in their class.

I’ve had this thought, from time to time, that I should stipulate in my will that any text of mine studied in a classroom (if it ever is – let us not jump ahead of ourselves) should be prefaced with an additional text that, in my current state of mind, would, in all likelihood, be written by me to undermine whatever certainty or authority the teacher might try to create when studying my work.  That’s an extremely convoluted way of saying, “wouldn’t it be good if Dickens/Shakespeare/whoever had left a note that told all the students in the future not to take them so seriously?”.  Something to that effect, anyway.

But yes – surely this is how you know you’ve made it as a writer, right?  When you’re inflicted on the youth of the world.

*Insert evil laughter here.*

I don’t even care if the children thought what I wrote was any good or not.  Sadists care not for the opinion of their victims, right?  Ha.

Anyway, I wonder if I still agree with what I wrote in that quote.  Hmm.  It’s certainly a seductive idea.  I’ll let it stand for the moment.

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Written by epistemysics

December 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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