Thursday, June 26, 2008


Reading some Pinter lately, I was reminded of the letter that a woman wrote to him through a newspaper after seeing The Birthday Party for the first time during its 8 performance run when it first opened.

"I would be obliged if you would kindly explain to me the meaning of your play. These are the points which I do not understand:
  1. Who are the two men?
  2. Where did Stanley come from?
  3. Were they all supposed to be normal?
You will appreciate that without the answers to my questions, I cannot fully understand your play."

Pinter's response was printed in the same paper:

"Dear Madam:

I would be obliged if you would kindly explain to me the meaning of your letter. These are the points which I do not understand:
  1. Who are you?
  2. Where do you come from?
  3. Are you supposed to be normal?
You will understand that without the answers to my questions, I cannot fully understand your letter."

I love Pinter for so many reasons, but chief amongst them is this sense of complete lack of apology when it comes to his art. He made this great speech in 1962 about playwriting called "Writing for the Theatre," where he calls into question that need for a past to be shown in order to justify the actions or words that occur on stage.

He also makes a pretty interesting comment about communication later on:

"We have heard many times that tired, grimy phrase: 'Failure of communication'...and this phrase has been fixed to my work quite consistently. I believe the contrary. I think that we communicate only too well, in our silence, in what is unsaid, and that what takes place is a continual evasion, desperate rear-gaurd attempts to keep ourselves to ourselves. Communication is too alarming. To enter into someone else's life is too frightening. To disclose to others the poverty within us is too fearsome a possibility."

I think that idea of communication being alarming, the kind of responsibility that comes with attempting to reach some one while having to expose part of yourself to do it is something that handicaps a lot of actors, including myself. (I'll fess up further: life imitates art more and more these days, if you get my meaning.) In an art form where honesty is prized above everything, and often when artifice is required to tell a story that honesty is meant to illuminate, communication can get muddy. And particularly so when involving the past of a character.

Now, we can't discount the past totally--sometimes it does inform actions of the present. People are habitual, and don't really change. But if we've learned anything from Sarah Kane it's that sometimes events or actions (with her specifically: violence) don't have any reason behind them. They just occur. And then that's it.

So I guess the question now is: how much of my past will inform my life in England? Or how much of it will I let inform me? I'm trying to release my baggage, my demons--all of that--as much as possible before I go, but are there some things you just can't shake?

Surely geography plays a part. Sometimes I feel like being in this city I walk around in my past--associations with places remind me of so many people, many I don't know anymore. Lots of ghosts. And from whatever is attached to them, there comes a hesitation in my own communication-->not only in my art, which has suffered from my cowardice to be sure, but also in my day to day life. And I don't like it. So hopefully a new sense of space will cease some of this. I'll have to be closer to my true self just to understand my surroundings. But then, what's that supposed to be anyway? (My "true self," not my "surroundings," which are still a mystery as I don't know where I'll be living yet...)

Touching on the question of identity again: if I'm a person who thrives on a sense of tempered honesty, not only because of the nature of my chosen profession, but because of how I've let my past sit on my shoulders for so long, what am I? Maybe I should pull a Pinter and just disregard what has happened, because sometimes it's hard to remember your past, even what happened just this morning. Maybe I should disregard these questions for now, as they only keep me from finishing things I really really need to do, like my FASA. And also: having a quarter life crisis on your blog is so...stupid.

So I'm having a little breakdown. I'm trying to work through it, but please excuse these sorts of discussions for a little while longer. I'll get back on track, and finish blogging about Suzuki. Soon. Someday. I promise.

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