Ray Converse

Jan 282013
Ray Converse

Ray Converse


As we worked through these short plays this weekend, I became immersed with how a simple reinterpretation of a few words can completely change the direction.  After all, each one of these playlettes is very short.  I didn’t sleep terribly well last night as my subconscious wrestled with this.  It became clearest to me as we worked on The Atrocious Uncle.  Different answers to a few questions can change the performance direction altogether.  Is the aunt partially paralyzed because she is a stroke victim, or is the paralysis the result of the Uncle’s physical abuse?  Is the Uncle an ex-soldier bored with the absence of war?  Or is he the Communist ideologue waiting for the remarkable day of the New World, but that never comes?  Is there any humanity to the Uncle or is he just a thug?

Jan 132013

As I reread the Green Goose, I notice there are many literary references that seem unclear for someone like me who seems to have been short changed in education on the classics.  For any other cast members who may be as clueless as me, I offer this first cut of material from Wikipedia.

The account of the beheading of Holofernes by Judith is given in the deuterocanonical book of Judith, and is the subject of more than 114 paintings and sculptures. In the story, Judith, a beautiful widow, is able to enter the tent of Holofernes because of his desire for her. Holofernes was an Assyrian general who was about to destroy Judith’s home, the city of Bethulia, though the story is emphatic that no “defilement” takes place. Overcome with drink, he passes out and is decapitated by Judith; his head is taken away in a basket (often depicted as carried by an elderly female servant).

Orpheus (pron.: /ˈɔrfiːəs/ or /ˈɔrfjuːs/; Ancient Greek: Ὀρφεύς) was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. The major stories about him are centered on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music, his attempt to retrieve his wife, Eurydice, from the underworld, and his death at the hands of those who could not hear his divine music. As an archetype of the inspired singer, Orpheus is one of the most significant figures in the reception of classical mythology in Western culture, portrayed or alluded to in countless forms of art and popular culture including poetry, opera, and painting.

Leda and the Swan is a story and subject in art from Greek mythology in which the god Zeus (AKA Jove) seduced, or raped, Leda in the form of a swan. According to later Greek mythology, Leda bore Helen and Polydeuces, children of Zeus, while at the same time bearing Castor and Clytemnestra, children of her husband Tyndareus, the King of Sparta. In the W.B. Yeats version, it is subtly suggested that Clytemnestra, although being the daughter of Tyndareus, has somehow been traumatised by what the swan has done to her mother (see below). According to many versions of the story, Zeus took the form of a swan and raped or seduced Leda on the same night she slept with her husband King Tyndareus. In some versions, she laid two eggs from which the children hatched. In other versions, Helen is a daughter of Nemesis, the goddess who personified the disaster that awaited those suffering from the pride of Hubris.

The subject was rarely seen in the large-scale sculpture of antiquity, although a representation of Leda in sculpture has been attributed in modern times to Timotheos; small-scale sculptures survive showing both reclining and standing poses, in cameos and engraved gems, rings, and terracotta oil lamps. Thanks to the literary renditions of Ovid and Fulgentius it was a well-known myth through the Middle Ages, but emerged more prominently as a classicizing theme, with erotic overtones, in the Italian Renaissance.

Dec 112012
Play Reading Workshop December 10, 2012 | “The Conspiracy of Feelings” By Yurii Olesha
First, viewing the play from the perspective of an entertainment, it more than fills the bill. There were several extremely funny scenes in it. My two favorites were the debate over the sausage machine vs the machine of machines and the dream sequence.
Second, looking at the underlying meaning, I saw it as a tug of war in Russia between the old and new regimes at the time of the Revolution. This leads to a tug of war between two schools of thought:  the human but inefficient versus the nonhuman and efficient. Of course, I also saw the theme of action vs inertia that appears in much Russian literature.
Third, I also thought about what this would say today to an American audience. In many ways with the development of robotics and artificial intelligence, we are entering the world of the universal machine. If everything is left to machines, what is there for us to do today? No one is going to pay us to enjoy more leisure.