Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 22, 2016

Tolstoy dragged over the coals yesterday for being long-winded. Everyone in the room thought they could get poor Ivan Ilych into his grave much faster.
Day one of Faith & Literature. I felt my energy drain away, so I was able to attend only one session, and it was oddly disheartening. The honored presenters seemed to have learned their lines but had no real connection to the play. Writers at writing conferences, the important ones at the front of the room, have a certain decorum, jolly and eloquent and off-hand and self-deprecating, broadcasting at once that what they do is of no consequence and of paramount consequence, a sort of backward vanity, longing for a moderator or audience member to say ask the right question to assert their brilliance while yet appearing all unwilling. I probably look like an ass for fighting it. I’m on pretty much all day today, so there will be no sneaking home for a nap. 
Marat/Sade at the university last night. I thought it would conserve my energy just to sit and watch, but I was wrong. Matthew had done new music for it, and the music was excellent (better than the original), if weakly performed. The show was a miss, though anywhere you looked the young actor was working hard and concentrating on his task. I noticed after a while-- trying to explain why a show so well designed was not working-- that every single line was delivered wrong, slightly wrong or cataclysmically wrong. Emphasis up when emphasis should be down, lines that should be flipped off lingered over, significant lines whispered into the floorboards. Actor training has always, always been the department’s weakness. They know how to move but they don’t know how to speak, and the concept “interpreting the line” is not thought of. I remembered playing Kokol forty five years ago. I remembered every line, which was worse for the present night, in a way. I remembered almost every actor, some of whom I had not thought of since.
Hazel Robinson is dead. I am one of those many in her debt.
Sudden winter. The office is cold.

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