Tag Archives: Beckett

QUA BECKETT?

WHY Samuel Beckett?

In the spirit of full disclosure:

I love his work.

 Anne Carson said “I love Beckett. Especially his face.”

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I recently met Rick Cluchey,  founder of the San Quentin Prisoners Project and Beckett’s friend, and now my friend. Rick is in his late 70’s. He lives in Culver City in an apartment full of memorabilia. He, like Beckett, was a boxer, and he still has a wirey build and tattooes. He’s passionate about theatre and about the capacity of theatre to create redemptive experiences for the spectator and for the participant. Rick’s thoughts and ideas re-animated my connection to Beckett, and this forum gave me a chance to think about Beckett once again, in a new context.   This blog….. READ ON!

 

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Trapped Downtown

Trapped Downtown…not “Downton” which would be even worse, to be trapped in that PBS world of high tea and smug smugness….no, this is a section about being a citizen of DTLA– Downtown Los Angeles. A recent cover of LA Magazine reads “Why We Love Downtown: 75 Reasons…” or something like that…you can check out the lists and laudatory commercials and boosterism yourself. I read that cover and the first thought that popped into my head is “YOU love downtown because YOU don’t actually live here.” I appreciate the juxtapositions of downtown, I notice the dissonance…that being said….there’s a lot to dislike about downtown Los Angeles. So I am actively looking for things to appreciate. First on my list is not the proximity to culture, by which I mean that you can walk to Disney Hall or Santee Alley. It’s the Quixotic Palpable dream of so many of the organizers who live here, those who toil against the fact that it’s impossible to shine up downtown because it would take a lot of political power to address the drugs, homelessness, and the ongoing epitomization of class inequality in Los Angeles. “In dreams begin responsibilities,” as the poet said.

Sunset over the world-famous restaurant The Pantry, LA's oldest 24 hour pancake house
Sunset over the world-famous restaurant The Pantry, LA’s oldest 24 hour pancake house

HOW THINGS END

Dear Reader:

I am obsessed with endings and have been gathering them in magpie-like fashion for many years. Not that I have formalized that obsession, I have not, these last lines are in my head and they occur every now and then. That being said—good endings have changed my relationship to reality because they proffer elegant mini-solutions to that final conundrum that Kierkegaard set out at the opening of Fear and Trembling: How did I get into this and how do I get out of it again? How does it end?  

This is story-anxiety, of course, it is the anxiety that things end, that they must, and that there might be a way that an ending in art is sort of a dress-rehearsal.

My favorite first lines are always one that begin Dear Reader.

My favorite last lines are diverse, and at the end of this essay-qua-letter I’ll list them. Meantime, I’ll depart from the letter that I never wrote and still have not written, because there is a distinction between last lines and final images.

First lines, in a play, are titles.   Titles are important because as playwright and performance artist Holly Hughes, when asked how she titles a play, said, “I work backwards from the press release.”  In the East Village theatre scene of the 90’s (where I first met Holly) most theatres didn’t have a way to advertise.  This was way before the internet Now.  If you weren’t under the institutional arm of a major theatre, and most of us were not, then you posted flyers at bookstores, clubs and cafes and left handfuls of postcards around town, and in the lobbies of other small theatres.  You had to have a title that drew in the potential, that expanded in the mind like one of those small pellets of paper that drop into a glass of water, something that resonated and haunted the mind.  At least that was the idea. You worked backwards from the press release, that meant the title.  Titles can be either notoriously difficult for people—or easy-breezy, as mother says.  A title is a kind of first line.

Theatre is a time art, so we don’t get that final line/image/utterance until we’ve endured the rest of text/performance. Of course with reading you can skip ahead and around, probably someone (Dear Reader!) may have abandoned this altogether and skipped to my end-of-the-line list.  In a live performance there’s no fast forward.

So that’s on the table: to work backwards from the final image—image, not utterance.

Although final lines of plays are usually a fusion of utterance/action  (which can also be inaction, as Beckett shows us again and again and again.)

Disparate endings/beginnings:

John Cage: Begin Anywhere

Bishop: I let the fish go

Ellison: Who knows, but on some level, I speak for you

Beckett: (stage direction) Repeat Play

FINAL THOUGHT: How did I get into this and how do I get out of it again? How does it end?—Kierkegaard

 

What is a Dramaticule?

We all know what a blog is—right?

But what is a DRAMATICULE?

I first learned the word from Samuel Beckett. He uses it to describe his short, his EXTREMELY short play “Come and Go.”   Beckett’s plays became shorter and shorter as he got older.  My friend Rick Cluchey, who worked with Beckett, says that Beckett didn’t want to “waste people’s time” and that’s why his texts became shorter and shorter.

Another Definition:

“The word dramaticule is a noun that can be defined as a little or insignificant state or situation of events involving interesting conflict of forces. It is rarely used and thus not recorded in most dictionaries.”

My definition:  a dramaticule is short form that can be a dialogue or a statement or a pithy utterance or an acute observation or a cri du coeur.

This space is devoted to some of my dramaticules—mini-essays, tiny dialogues, meditations.