Stoppard Stasis

11 Dec

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You know how Hamlet is this doomed Prince? And you know how he had these semi insignificant University pals who show up a couple of times to cock his life up further? And you know how Stoppard took those dudes and wrote an entire play about what happens to them, during their “off stage” down-time? And you know how it’s patterned after “Waiting For Godot,” and nothing “real” ever happens per sey, you just watch two idiots waste time and space, waiting for life to “happen” to them, instead of going out and actually verbing “life” into an active state of achieved fulfillment?

…And you know how fucking confusing that show is, with it’s death and life, in boxes? But you still kinda love it anyway? Because somehow, the “watching life pass” bit, and the “waiting” bit, and the, “what is our purpose” bit, and the “fucking shit up despite all your best intentions” bit, sorta rings home…but at least now it’s happening to someone else, so it’s easier to laugh at it?

Stoppard has a way of freeze-framing characters and time and events into crazy broken shards of life, then piecing them back together with bits of string and Scotch tape, so you can chart their journey (often in screwed up time or perspective) to one another AND a variety of themes, spider-webbing to, from, through, and across each other like one of those theory boards made of stick pins and yarn that obsessive detectives always use in complicated murder mysteries.

….The bastard is SO smart, though, he ups the stakes by making sure you can’t find all the answers and connect on just a 2D charting field. He takes that shit sideways, and at diagnals, so you have to mentally pop the whole thing out into 3D to even begin to get to the bottom of things. Character relationships across 300 years of time and space, theories spun from the Greeks, then thrown into math algorithms. Clever word-play, comparing the change of meaning in language over time, class, education…and yet (much like Shakespeare), with all that fancy head play, can still cover the essentials of human existence on desire, sex, jealousy, hate, and frustration enough to satisfy even the most unread, lazy, gutter-thinker in the audience.

…In other words: Stoppard is fucking magical.

This is my second show of his I’ve worked on– “Arcadia,” far in my preference to “R&G.” Maybe because I sincerely click with this character, and the cast, and the three or four particular themes we’ve (thus far), uncovered in our massive 3D pin board of string-followings.

…I love History. I love hard work, and research and investigating. I love books and theories and lives who’ve come before us, paving our way. I love the basics of proof-searching, of accountability and the infection of wanting to know more. I completely understand learning-obsession, talent-crushing, head-against-brickwall-beating, and a sense of there always being more and more and more to know…about EVERYTHING.

…So…I “get” Hannah. However, being as she is a Stoppard character, I know there will always be more layers to dig under in more directions, than I would be able to exhaust in even a full six months of playing her. Because I already get this, my plan of attack at grid-reliefing her in excavation, (like an archaeologist), is my best bet to chasing her down. Which, even she would approve of.

…”This” finding, which leads us to “that,” connects “here,” and at last you have: why she writes instead of teaches. “This” piece, followed by “that,” minus a very distinctly missing other bit, explains why she has no significant other in her life. Control issues. Distrust. Obsession. Sex-antagonism. Anti-Romanticism. Science vs Faith. She’s left more broken shards of her-pieces buried all throughout this show, to keep me digging for ages. I’ll never find it all. But with each new piece I uncover and try to plug into that chart of her-theories, the more I understand not only what a hell of a job I’ve got ahead of me each rehearsal and performance, but also an affirmation of what I already knew before…and yet, am still surprisingly gobsmacked over…

Which is:

No matter how much I learn, there is more to find, regardless of how many hundred times I pluck through this script which never changes and yet with each new discovery, somehow seems to.

…And also:

Fucking sonofabitch, Stoppard is a goddamn brilliant playwright.

~D

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