Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ars Dramatica

Tonight, I attended the local community college production of David Ives ' All in the Timing. Since my wife was in the other community , my mother was my guest. (She did a bit of theater in this self-same college more years ago than anyone wants to admit.) For those who aren't familiar with the Ives' work, it is a four part, minimal scenery, Kafkaesque comedy affair. It counts on the audience being very literate in readings from science and the arts and history in places - so of course I loved it. The new Theater Director of the college got it right when he said "...I feel that a blustery November in Colorado calls for a lighter tone of entertainment."

The first skit, "
Words,  Words, Words " is based on statistics and probability.  It features three "monkeys" in a college lab earning their keep by trying to type Shakespeare's Hamlet in less than an infinite amount of time. Needless to say the "monkeys" feel a bit of stress when they realize that it will take them longer than the current age of the universe to stand an even chance of success.

The next skit was one of my favorites, "
The Philadelphia ". It is based on the idea of metaphysical black holes in reality called "Philadelphias" where it is impossible to get what you ask for. In fact you have to ask for the opposite of what you want. The kicker is that some people are better at living in a "Philadelphia" than they are in the normal reality.

The third skit clearly appealed to the college students in the audience. It is called "
Sure Thing " and is about a boy and girl  in a cafe undergoing that painful first meeting. The hook is that they each have a bell they ring to restart the conversation when it reaches a dead end or goes a direction unacceptable to one or the other. The end result is finally negotiating the conversation to a first "date".

The final skit was my personal favorite. Called "
Variations on the Death of Trotsky ", it shows us the revolutionary on the day of his demise trying to cope with a mountain climber's axe he has discovered smashed in his skull. He goes through several explanations and reasons and denials for the axe while his wife keeps reading aloud from the current encyclopedia article that he died on this day (August 21, 1940) of an ice axe smashed into his head. Not buried, but smashed.

The inside joke here is that the skit is actually less odd than the real death of Trotsky on August 21, 1940. He was indeed smashed in the head with an ice axe on the 20th and lingered talking and carrying on until the 21st. In fact, according to the report in 
Time Magazine in 1940, he yelled to his body guards "Don't kill him. This man has a story to tell." as they subdued his assailant. Ever the historian, Trotsky later in the evening said to Natalie Sedova (his wife) about what had happened to him during the assassination attempt "I feel here," said Trotsky, pointing to his heart, "that this time they have succeeded."

As Time Magazine reported 
Although his skull was fractured and his brain pierced, although paralysis was already creeping down his left side, Leon Trotsky clung to consciousness. In a Green Cross hospital he dictated to Hansen a clear-minded statement:
I am close to death from the blow of a political assassin, who struck me in my room. I struggled with him. He had entered the room to talk about French statistics. He struck me. Please say to our friends: I am sure of the victory of the Fourth International. Go Forward!

Sometimes theater is stranger that reality, but this time reality was even stranger! And if I hadn't put in the links to the Time article, I'm sure you'd all think I was making this up to!

1 comment:

  1. I love this one! I wish I could have seen that performance. I don't know if you can read my blog right now, if not, shoot me an email at highmaintenancegranola at gmail dot com and I will send you an invite.


You know you want to ... so just do it!!!

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin