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Since I Never Get the Last Word

Monday, May 8, 2006
The Irish Evidently Do Not Appreciate Experimental Theatre

Begin with: “On this day, [in 1899] The Countess Cathleen by William Butler Yeats opens at the Irish Literary Theatre in Dublin, the theater's inaugural performance. Yeats, already an accomplished poet, had been persuaded to help launch the theater by his friend Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory, a writer and collector of Irish folklore. Yeats managed the theater's business affairs and wrote numerous plays. On occasion, his experimental works sparked riots in the audience.” The History Channel, May 8, 2006.

Then do a minimum of hunting for: “However, in a turn that would predict much of the National Theatre’s history for the next thirty years, the production of Yeats’ play was immediately marked by controversy. Set in a non-specific time of famine, The Countess Cathleen depicts Irish peasants who sell their souls to demon merchants in exchange for food. Before the production ever opened, a pamphlet entitled Souls for Gold accused the play of slandering the Irish people by suggesting that they would abandon their faith in the face of adversity. Several prominent members of the Catholic church in Dublin supported the pamphlet, and on opening night protestors demonstrated outside the Ancient Concert Rooms. Despite the force of the protestors objections, though, support for the Literary Theatre proved to be stronger. Nationalist papers hailed the Theatre as a necessary and welcome institution (although, ironically, the same papers gave Yeats’ play almost uniformly poor reviews) and the initial performances were an overwhelming success.”The Literary Encyclopedia: The Abbey Theatre/The Irish National Theatre

Do you suppose The History Channel views the idea of Irish peasants selling their souls for food ‘experimental’? Well, let’s keep searching for this experimental work that Yeats foisted on a riotous Irish mob.

“However, things were to take a turn for the worst in January 1907 with the opening of Synge's The Playboy of the Western World. Egged on by nationalists who believed that the theatre was not sufficiently political and with the pretext of a perceived slight on the virtue of Irish womanhood in the use of the word 'shift', a significant portion of the crowd rioted, causing the remainder of the play to be acted out in dumbshow. Nationalist ire was further provoked by the decision to call in the police. Although press opinion soon turned against the rioters and the protests (now known as the Playboy Riots) petered out, the Abbey was shaken and Synge's next (and last completed) play The Tinker's Wedding (1908) was not staged for fear of further disturbances.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Abbey Theatre

Now we must suppose The History Channel views the word “shift” as ‘experimental.’ And this wasn’t even’ a Yeats play though it was performed in his theatre.

“In 1913 Yeats spent some months at Stone Cottage, Sussex, with the American poet Ezra Pound acting as his secretary. Pound was then editing translations of the no plays of Japan, and Yeats was greatly excited by them. The no drama provided a framework of drama designed for a small audience of initiates, a stylized, intimate drama capable of fully using the resources offered by masks, mime, dance, and song and conveying--in contrast to the public theatre--Yeats's own recondite symbolism. Yeats devised what he considered an equivalent of the no drama in such plays as Four Plays for Dancers (1921), At the Hawk's Well (first performed 1916), and several others.” www.Britannica.com/The Nobel Prize Winners

Here we are! W.B. Yeats experimented with the form of the dramatic presentation of plays. He wrote plays whose central expository motif was danced. I can see where that would cause a riot in Dublin.

Evidently, when you are committed to a new “This Day in History” every day of the year, the time commitment for elementary research (it took me fifteen minutes to pull up my quotes from the internet} is so overwhelming that shortcuts must be the order of the day. What comes to my mind is an old encyclopedia article being copied very fast, then edited for dramatic impact. Facts be damned; this will sell.

I love history, history books, and hack historians. Together, they provide me one of my favorite forms of entertainment: discovering the bullshit they feel compelled to purvey.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-05-08 17:06:05

Saturday, May 6, 2006

This week has been particularly satisfying. Two short stories posted and more bubbling in the cauldron of my imagination. Elsewhere, I acknowledged the total lack of discipline I am currently enjoying as well as my inability to gather interest to work on the longer stuff. Two novels need editing/re-work; a third sits half completed in its first draft, another is stalled on this forum. There's one on the collab thread I half want to remove and work on to completion and that’s just my stuff. There are at least two with the patient Lady of the Shire that are in first draft and part of a second. Yet all I want to do is play with short stories.

I’ve always wondered what I’ll be when I grow up; it’s beginning to look like it isn’t going to be a writer. What’s really bad is that I can live with that. But, if this is so, then it’s also apparent I am not going to grow up. Don’t anyone tell the Lady Who Shares Her Life With Me. I think she’s hoping it’s still going to happen.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-05-06 10:58:57

Monday, May 1, 2006

A pilot can be grounded if found insane, but if the pilot requests to be grounded because of insanity, the Army considers him perfectly sane for wanting to avoid danger-and he can’t be grounded.

“They’re trying to kill me.”

“They’re trying to kill everyone.”

“That’s what I mean; they’re trying to kill me.”

How to censor mail of potentially damaging military information: On one day he’d black out the indefinite articles; the next day he’d black out the definite articles. On another day he’d black out all names including addressee and signature.

“Major Major is in; you can’t see him now.”

"Major Major is out, now; you can go in.”

A pilot who practices crash landing.

An ex-PFC who controls the events of the war because he runs the mail room determining what mail gets through and what doesn’t.

The book is Catch-22 published in 1961; the author is Joseph Heller who was born on this date in 1922. He died in 1999. Put this book into the hands of a 21-year old soldier; add to it Stranger in a Strange Land and you ruin him forever.

Thank you, Mr. Heller.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-05-01 07:44:47

Friday, April 28, 2006
8 Lies

The Trickster presents us eight lies:

If only I were rich, then I would be happy.

If only I were famous, then I would be happy.

If only I could find the right person to marry, then I would be happy.

If only I had more friends, then I would be happy.

If only I were more attractive, then I would be happy.

If only I weren’t physically handicapped in any way, then I would be happy.

If only someone close to me hadn’t died, then I would be happy.

If only the world were a better place, then I would be happy. (1)

In my time, I have bought into almost all of these lies, only physical handicap having thus far passed me by. I’ve never been rich but I have tried to be. I have never been famous but I have tried to be. I have avoided a multitude of friends and sometimes regretted this choice. People close to me have died and I kept living. The world is as it is. I married the right person; I cannot imagine my life lived without her. Despite these successes or lack thereof, I have had moments of happiness and moments of unhappiness in a continuous pendulum of experience. Now, I'm not striving for anything in particular, just enjoying the time I have. I'm not going to be ricj, I can see that now. Fame will go to someone else. The friends I have are sufficient. At our age, family and friends are going to die. I won't get any better looking than I ever was, which was debatable at best. The world will continue to be as it is.

This morning, I am happy with my life, what it was, what it is, what is left.

(1) Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding, Billy Mills, Nicholas Sparks, Hay House, 1999

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-04-28 09:02:52

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Dawn Service

A typical commemoration begins with a march by returned service personnel before dawn to the local war memorial. Military personnel and returned service-men and -women form up about the memorial, joined by other members of the community, with pride of place going to the war veterans. A short service follows with a prayer, hymns (including Kipling's 'Recessional' or 'Lest We Forget'), and a dedication which concludes with the fourth verse of Laurence Binyon's 'For the Fallen':

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The Last Post is then played, followed by a minute's silence and Reveille. A brief address follows, after which the hymn 'Recessional' is sung. The service concludes with a closing prayer and the singing of the National Anthem.

If it were me, I'd ask for no more and be grateful for this much.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-04-25 15:06:10

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