So this is my last official blog post for this term (I may do one farewell/happy Christmas one) but here we do.
This week we read two plays: The Tragedy of King Christophe by Césaire and Henri Christophe by Walcott. I will say off the bat that I was so happy to finally read something good once again. No offense to like Trouillot and Hobbes…well offense to Hobbes…but lately in Arts one (well since Butler) we’ve read quite unenthusiastic readings. I am sure that they are great for philosophers, but I ain’t that, hence I would rather run a marathon while on fire than read the remaining 200 pages of Hobbes.
Anywho, where was I? Yes….I enjoyed these readings for that fact, but as the lecturer said, they aren’t like great plays.
Walcott’s acts each began with Shakespearean quotes and it seemed to me that by doing so he shot himself in the foot. His writing is nowhere up to par with that of Shakespeare and to preface his own words with those of the master craftsman was just foolish.
I also noticed that Césaire had a quite Brechtian style to his writing; the wordiness and use of songs is very reminiscent of Caucasian Chalk Circle and other plays.
I found myself reading Césaire quicker (very much enjoyed the clown and the queen) but found myself enjoying Walcott more. I like the precision of his scenes and the simplicity of it all.
I will add more maybe, but that is all for now!
So now it’s been a day since I posted this and I thought it would be a good time to further my blog post. Here are some definitions.
Epic Theatre: A form of theatre made famous by Bertolt Brecht. It is a form of theatre which wants the audience to be aware that they are watching a play. The full definition, thanks to Answers.com is:
“Dramatic form developed in Germany after World War I by Bertolt Brecht and others, intended to provoke rational thought rather than to create illusion. It presents loosely connected scenes often interrupted by direct addresses to the audience providing analysis, argument, or documentation. Brecht’s goal was to use alienating or distancing effects to block the emotional responses of the audience members and force them to think objectively about the play. Actors were instructed to keep a distance between themselves and the characters they portrayed and to emphasize external actions rather than emotions.”
Brecht also uses songs that narrate “to an extent” the inner thoughts of the characters. (here is a weird example http://youtu.be/bjW1Wcijqrk ). These techniques were very prevalent in Césaire’s play. Hugonin sings all the time, commenting on what is happening with the others characters, even if it doesn’t make sense with the plot. At the same time, there was a grandiose quality to this text. It was very pageant like and at times the scenes seemed unrelated. The text made me think about what was happening, instead of just enjoying it.
If you look at the rhythm in which some of the characters speak, the style in which the play is written shifts.
The Queen, on page 41-42 speaks in a very heightened sense- almost on the brink of Greek Theatre like. Referencing herself and prophesying (in a sense) what is to come. I was very perplexed by this outburst…as well as the ending of the play. They seemed somewhat out of place and strange.
I found that Henri spoke either in this Greek Tragedy motif or in a shakespearean-esque style (to be discussed in my essay)
My favorite scene in this play was when Vastey visits the two noblewomen and the play turns into an almost Wilde comedy (think Importance of being Earnest)
I have yet to decide if this shift in style was a technique to intensify the play or just an amateur playwrights mistakes.
Now we go to Walcott, the polar opposite of his contemporary. I felt that this play was better and very modern in its approach to such a historical event. I sympathized much more with Henri Christophe in this one (perhaps it is because he was actually the lead, whereas in Césaire, it was a hodge podge)
In Walcott, I felt that all the “bullshit” and excessive fluff was stripped away leaving us with an exploration of the character’s psyche. I believe it also gave us a better view point into the story of the Haitian Revolution. Although the play took place over a larger time period (it seemed) the moments that were chosen to be dramatized, were done so in a precise manner to really highlight certain instances.
In the same vein, some of the more lengthy sections of the text turned into an almost poetic or song like rhythm.
I also found it interesting that there were no women in this play. I wonder why?