Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ophelia, Suicide or Accident?

I had a very good Christmas today. A departure of the last several, where the only place I felt alive was in rehearsals, or when I was working on a play. I feel comfortable in my 'own skin' today. I woke up, showered, and headed for my trusty diner to have a turkey dinner with all the strangers, except for the waiters and waitresses who all know me by my name now. The dinner was excellent, and I was able to parlay the meal into my supper tonight, complete with pumpkin pie. It may sound odd, but I came home, did four loads of laundry, (yes, on Christmas), printed out the complete play of 'Hamlet', and in between loads studied as much critical analysis as I could stand. It is the key to the structure of the play, and so I must have at least a command of the whole story, while going into parts of the text that are relevant. 

As I mentioned in the previous entry, Ophelia is the key to my monologues and stories on the 'women in my life'. I did not know she was such a controversial character, the debate and metaphor of her character runs long and deep. The debate over her drowning is rampant, whether suicide or accident, (I think some of both), and there is also some text that suggests she may have been pregnant. I also found out that when Hamlet tells her to "get thee to a nunnery..." he was referring her to a brothel, which 'nunnery', was a slang term from the day. In other words, He called her a 'whore', which is a part of the mystery of the sub--text. Earlier tonight, I went over the ghost scenes again, and found new things in Hamlet's encounter with his father's spirit, as I find new things with my own father's spirit. 

Today was also the passing of one of the world's greatest playwrights, Harold Pinter. I will never forget seeing 'The Birthday Party' at Phoenix Theatre so many years ago. He made his mark in the theatre in many ways, one, taking sub-text, (the thoughts, actions, and motives beneath the text) to new extremes. He wrote many short lines, that actors were asked to find the actions between them for sometimes a full minute. Seemingly, some of his lines didn't go together, but he really knew what he was doing. He asked actors to show what they were thinking instead of telling. I wrote a short play after I saw 'The Birthday Party', that was produced at ASU, called 'Jim and Bob'. My professor called it 'Pinteresque', as many other plays were poor imitations of what he did. He wrote highly original plays, and was a champion of human rights. Later, his plays became deeply political. He made a difference. As in many things we do in life, we start by imitating, until we find our own voice. He had a masterful voice, of which, with his body of plays, will never be silenced. Hasta la vista, Mr. Pinter. 

I finally feel I have enough source material to tackle some of the roughest parts of the script again. Using the Shakespearian overlay is risky, but most plays are hybrids of voices, language, and forms. Sam Shepard put cowboys into existential plays, and had his characters speaking in a hybrid of  western language and John Paul Sartre.  Tennessee Williams put lyrical poetry into the mouths of common southerners and brutes. Tony Kushner put the language of God into the mouths of dying gay men. I'll put Shakespeare into the mouth of a bohemian cowboy. I'll make the ghost of Hamlet's father my own. I'll make Ophelia the perfect woman. I'll let the madness of Hamlet perpetuate my own youth. Sound challenging? It will be and it is! 

This next week, I have to also start generating copy for the post card, and find an image. I was going to use a picture of my mother and father, but I think I'm going to look for an image of a cowboy with either a suitcase or a bag. Maybe a cowboy in a pick-up truck heading down a highway. Maybe something in the desert. Any ideas or images you have? Send them my way, RShurtz57@gmail.com. I'll give you a credit if I use your image. I also have to start working on the announcement of the play, and the press release for the play. This is usually a combination of a resume and a compelling synopsis of the play. I find that I like to do this kind of work. Its challenging to come up with something that when someone sees it, they don't want to miss it. This is considered the work of the publicist, but often in theatre it becomes the job of the producer. I talked to Cheryl tonight in Utah, and I will work with her on getting it right. So, the practical and the creative, all working together for the process and the end result. It will be good to get into my final abode, so that I can find my final routine. Good night to all, and to all, Merry Christmas! 


3 comments:

Gerry said...

I got up at 20 to 2am unable to sleep, thinking something on my computer was calling me, and it was a new entry by you, which I really enjoyed reading. I love to read analysis of any kind, because as you know I have about run everyone into the ground with analysis of everything and anything. The Kings have a penchent for analysis, and I see that you have got the gift. I'd always be surprised to hear my King cousins going on and on analyzing some aspect of life to think that it must be an inherited gift as well as a developed one. I will look for photos. I am sending you this DVD of mine and Doc's country karaoke album, if you will send me an address, so you can see that the work we have done on video has resulted in more comic touches, and the blend of song and comedy has come along. You will also see how the songs your dad used to sing influenced me and gave me the foundation of my love for singing and always looking for a singer to partner up with. Doc is the funniest one so far. He doesn't take anything serious, not even life. I see you are continuing to burn the midnight oil! Mom

Pamela said...

I spent Xmas "in my own skin" as well! I did laundry, but I did not study as you did. I'm glad you had a good holiday.
You are a wonderful story teller and I look forward to your play!
Pam

caroline said...

Merry Christmas, Raymond!
May the writing (typo there, righting, heh) fly...