Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

A play ethic   Leave a comment

Timothy Morton’s lateset post is titled Drama as Ecological Form. I’m glad he is now considering drama as an ecological form and look forward to his thoughts on the subject. I’m also delighted to discover Una Chaudhuri’s work, given that my own impulse to transition from a geology PhD to further studies in literary ecology was initiated by a three week international voice workshop on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

In the course of the last seven years, I’ve searched out authors that have recognized drama as a “quintessentially ecological art form”. Part of my motivation being to write an “ecological play” about carbon capture storage. (I now plan to complete a second draft of my manuscript by this summer).

Here are some quotes from two references that I’ve found particularly useful:

In How Plays Work David Edgar writes that The playwright David Hare sees theatre as essentially meteorological – like the weather, it happens when two fronts meet: what the actors are doing and what the audience is thinking.”

Edgar also makes a very useful comment on “The liminal zone”… where lies are exposed, disguises tested and the truths of individuals are revealed (p 73):

“In exploring the relationship of location to genre, there are two special cases, one a tragedy, one usually seen as a comedy… Indeed, you might define Shakespeare’s two principal genres in starkly simple terms: in the comedies people are driven into the countryside where they dress up as other people, come in again, and get married; in the tragedies, they strip off stay outside, and die.” (p. 74-75).

Joseph Meeker in his “Comedy of Survival: Literary Ecology and a Play Ethic” (1997) suggests that in comedies people get back inside through a “strategic and clever” reconciliation (p. 16): “When the usual patterns of life are disrupted, the comic spirit strives for a return to normalcy… (It) is a strategy for survival. (p. 14 -15).” Meeker reckons that “a rhapsody extolling human conquests over nature appears at a crucial point in Greek tragic drama, for the human elevation over natural environments is an essentially tragic assertion.”

Personally, I also find it timely to rethink ecological theatre. This weekend I attended the “Literature and Altered States” conference at Lausanne University.

The first item on the program was “Mania in The Bacchae”. It was observed that in Euripides’s play each character has a different reading of the following terms: Sophia (Wisdom) ; Phrônesis (Perception/judgement); Sôphrôn (Knowledge of limits).

Are these idiosyncratic readings informed by each character’s place in society? …. The more I think of it, the more I want to devote time to an ecological reading of this play!

My last attempt to write about ecological theatre was for Geneva University’s English Department Student Newspaper. See:

Nisbet Eco-theatre

…Having completed my reading of Finnegans Wake, I remain intrigued by the many instances, not only part II- chapter II of the book, where I’m persuaded that I’m witness to a shadow play located within Joyce’s mind. J.L. Styan insists that “the play is not on the stage but in the mind” (Edgar 2009, p.7). In Finnegans Wake the play is not on the page, but in the mind…

Images from the 2007 Theatre du Mouvement workshop, “At the juncture of Body and Object”. International Puppetry Institute, Charleville-Mézières.

Posted March 7, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in Drama, Gesamtkunstwerk, Shakespeare

-And what sigeth Woodin Warneung thereof?   Leave a comment


– They were simple scandlemongers


I’m not proud of this section of my readings. This seance thing has been going on for pages and I’m not really good at accents, especially as I rarely have a clue who is speaking here. Sometimes I think, oh this feels like a judge in a trial. Or, perhaps this is HCE now? But, often I just don’t have a clue. And these random voices have been going on for days.

To cheer myself up, I took myself off the the Théâtre Saint-Gervais tonight to listen to André Steiger’s talk, “C’est à pleurer de rire: de la farce au vaudeville et de la caricature à la critique sociale.” (You could laugh till you cried: from Farce to vaudeville… from caricatures to social critique).

In one sense it was a bit of a sweaty arm pits experience, as barring Molière, I don’t know much about French theatre prior to Genet/Camus/Ionesco/Giraudoux. But, tonight I found out that Eugène Labiche was a writer of Vaudeville. And that this was originally a French satirical form, which aquired greater prominence during the French revolution, which André Steiger suggests is due to the subversive, vengeful qualities of laughter.

Steiger also proposes a wider definition of parody (that very important Joycean rhetorical devise): to be against or next to the thing in question, which can be life, or how people exist.

And a definition of Vaudeville, which contains musical numbers, but no original music, rather tunes rehashed with new words: a type of comic theatre deriving from a standpoint of sincerity and naivety.

Of course my knee-jerk is to want to cut and paste all this onto FW right now, and follow up with the comment, “and of course Joyce inspired Beckett: think of the slapstick clowning in Waiting for Godot“. To nurture the hope that pretending I’m doing a Vaudeville FW will make it easier to read tomorrow.

But instead, holding onto Steiger’s citation of Wilde: “Imitators imitate. It is the critical spirit that creates.” I will now sleep on it. And see if my reading is still tragic in the morning.

Warewolff! Oloff! Toboo!   Leave a comment


Listen, there is a film script in Finnegans Wake.

Look at what the Cabaret-Nucléaire make out of language play!

If you’re in the Geneva area, you can see Rebecca Bonvin live at L’Alchimic (Carouge) until the 14th of Nov.

Clown-theatre-cabaret at its best!!!

Click here for more of the dark nulcéaire.

Posted November 6, 2010 by R.H.H. Nisbet in Drama, film, Finnegans Wake Audio Recording