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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: March ::
Middle School Drama
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0129  Friday, 20 March 2009

[1]  From:  Fran Teague <
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      Date:  Thursday, 19 Mar 2009 16:35:33 -0400 (EDT)
      Suct:  Re: SHK 20.0124 Middle School Drama

[2]  From:  Matthew Henerson <
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      Date:  Thursday, 19 Mar 2009 15:47:41 -0700
      Suct:  Re: SHK 20.0124 Middle School Drama

[3]  From:  Louis Swilley <
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      Date:  Thursday, 19 Mar 2009 23:29:01 -0700 (PDT)
      Suct:  Re: SHK 20.0124 Middle School Drama


[1] -----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Fran Teague <
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Date:       Thursday, 19 Mar 2009 16:35:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 20.0124 Middle School Drama
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0124 Middle School Drama

David Frankel's remarks about reading plays as if they were novels are 
right on the money. That sort of reader might well find Our Town dull, 
or Hamlet a fixed character who can be analyzed, or Jonson third-rate. 
If one reads Our Town with a sense of the way it experiments formally to 
impose narrative point-of-view in a drama, or thinks of Hamlet being 
embodied by a variety of actors in a wide range or productions, or 
recalls how well Jonson plays, then one realizes how much can be gained 
by attending to plays as plays.

Fran Teague
http://www.english.uga.edu/~fteague

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Matthew Henerson <
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Date:       Thursday, 19 Mar 2009 15:47:41 -0700
Subject: 20.0124 Middle School Drama
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0124 Middle School Drama

Pornographic?  "Our Town?"  I'm definitely seeing the wrong productions.

Matt Henerson

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Louis Swilley <
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Date:       Thursday, 19 Mar 2009 23:29:01 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0124 Middle School Drama
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0124 Middle School Drama

Evidently I am without the requisite "histrionic sensibility" that would 
allow me to appreciate "Our Town," a play about two families whose chief 
concerns are preparing breakfast for their children, getting them off to 
school, their children's struggle with schoolwork, the local organist's 
drinking problem, later arranging a wedding (to which they invite the 
milkman and his wife!). In a subsequent scene, we are taken to the 
children's school where the boy has been elected president of the senior 
class; he is admonished by the girl for giving too much attention to 
baseball. Following these exciting matters thrillingly examined in 
cloying sentimental detail over two acts, we are treated to a cemetery 
landscape where the girl is buried, leaving her husband and young son. 
She insists on returning to her earlier life and there laments that the 
living know little about either death or life. I must say I am delighted 
to be without a sensibility that would move me to honor such vapidity.

I would be overjoyed to thrill to beat the band over this play with the 
most intense histrionic sensibility if anyone here can enlighten me as 
to the significant dramatic moment of these saccharine scenes of homey 
nothings that alternately cause an audiences' bodily apertures to pucker 
with embarrassment, or threaten imminent sleep because of the 
godawfullest boredom well beyond the yawning of it.

Perhaps someone here can also tell me the formal relationship (in the 
argument of the play) among such disparate subjects as preparing 
breakfast, going to school, struggles with studies, drunken organists, 
invitations to milkmen, senior class elections, obsession with baseball, 
etc. I have the distinct impression that one might toss in any matter 
whatever -- the weather, property taxes, fashionable dress, etc. -- an 
endless recitation of further trivia, without losing one iota of 
whatever dramatic force is contained in the nonsense already present in 
this argument of this play.

I have seen at least three productions of this play ("hope springs 
eternal in the human breast"), one with Burgess Meredith as the Stage 
Manager, another with Paul Newman in that role. Although their 
performances and those of the rest of the members of the companies 
wanted little in the way of competence, nothing saved this play; I had 
the impression that the actors might as well have recited the telephone 
book.

Perhaps there will be a brilliant director who will see and present 
sharp edges and great depths in the events, characters and lines of this 
play (such great rescues are sometimes possible in theater); but the 
productions I have seen so far have come nowhere near such salvific 
delights.

L. Swilley

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