Friday, March 31, 2006

Paula Vogel on Virginia Woolf & Beckett

Very interesting piece on Beckett in the Times this weekend, with various playwrights discussing Beckett's influence. Here is Paula Vogel:
"I wonder what would've happened had Beckett existed as a colleague, or a contemporary, or even as a forerunner to Virginia Woolf," Ms. Vogel said. "What would've happened if she had seen the ability to dramatize stasis, where drama was no longer about the conflict of men in action, but was instead a conflict of perspectives? I think Virginia Woolf would've become a playwright."
And further:
"The huge gift that Beckett gave to theater, to women playwrights in particular, is our notion of dramaturgy: a non-Aristotelian, nonapocalyptic sense of time, sheer chronicity that stretches to eternity," she continued. "In the 1960's, women experimental writers were criticized for being static, but they actually would have stayed away from drama without Beckett's model, because quite frankly it wasn't a form that appealed to their different notion of dramatic time."
I won't argue there, though of course he wasn't the only one. A major one, not the only one. And it's true what John Guare says about people riffing on Beckett: the work falls flat. Why? Any number of reasons I suppose, but one thing I notice when I teach Beckett in writing classes (and I do whenever possible...), is that people tend to see the play's surface, not its depth, not the depths of the characters. They don't see the mean streak, the anger, the hostility. They go for the conceptual gloss, and it's beautiful stuff, but it's not empty!!

Anyhow, can't miss a chance to post on Beckett. And Vogel's How I Learned to Drive is a damn fine play too. Structurally it's much more brilliant than it seems.

Ah, Beckett, Stein, Woolf: it doesn't get any better for this Hound.

Oh, and planning on seeing Wallace Shawn's new translation of Brecht's Three Penny Opera next month! Woohoo!

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