[arcadia_group] Re: The game plan- READ

  • From: Christopher Jones <cjones20@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: arcadia_group@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 3 May 2009 17:31:51 -0400

i am in the same boat.

i just had a super busy and shitty weekend that i just need to move past at
this point.

what time are we meeting again?

i am getting off work now, and need to go home and change and stuff.
if it's at 6, im going to be a bit late.  i apologize

On Sun, May 3, 2009 at 3:37 PM, R NOEMER <kevinnoemer@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>  Okay, I might not have my slides at the meeting. I have all of my
> information, minus a few exact references from the script that I have to
> write out, but I have a very solid amount of information typed up in a Word
> document to look at when I put my slides together. But if I don't get my
> slides done before the meeting, I can easily finish them afterwards when I
> get home and then email them to Tom. I figure so long as we figure out the
> order and everything, putting my slides in afterwards is as easy as copy and
> pasting. I'll try to get them done, but yeah, this weekend hasn't gone
> exactly as I had planned it.
> Kevin
> ------------------------------
> Date: Fri, 1 May 2009 20:30:56 -0400
> Subject: [arcadia_group] Re: The game plan- READ
> From: tbarro1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> To: arcadia_group@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> hey guys i was thinking bring your slides on a thumbdrive or email it to
> yourself and when we get together on sunday we can put them together with
> all of us there.T
> On Fri, May 1, 2009 at 5:03 PM, R NOEMER <kevinnoemer@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>  Hey, sorry guys. I didn't get around to checking my email in the last two
> days. I was lucky enough to get mono from God knows where. Hooray! Anyways,
> I should have my slides done by Sunday. I've got a couple more articles to
> read through, but this is more or less the only work I have, so I'm not
> really too stressed about it. Also, Dan you seem to know a good deal about
> the math in the play, so if you have any thoughts you'd like to share with
> me, that'd be awesome. While I find all the iterations and naturalistic
> geometry interesting, math certainly is not my forte. I'll let you guys take
> a look at what I've come up with before we present in case anyone with a
> better grasp on the concepts has some thoughts.
> Kevin
> ------------------------------
> Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 18:48:34 -0400
> Subject: [arcadia_group] Re: The game plan- READ
> From: dsince1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> To: arcadia_group@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> All;
> Dan here.  Tom and Will - I am attaching a few documents I found most are
> either interviews or biographical content, and I am also including the Stage
> as Hyperspace paper and another dealing with the music titled Waltzing in
> Arcadia.
> Also, I have a little more work to do on my presentation slides, but will
> get those out soon.
> Thanks for meeting today, guys, I think things are going to be fine.
> Dan
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> ------------------------------
> Works Cited
> Zoglin, Richard. "Elitist, Moi?." *Time* 170.19 (05 Nov. 2007): 69-71. 
> *International
> Bibliography of Theatre & Dance with Full Text*. EBSCO. [Library name],
> [City], [State abbreviation]. 26 Apr. 2009 <
> http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy-tu.researchport.umd.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ibh&AN=27257715&site=ehost-live
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> ------------------------------
> Section: Art THEATER
> *Elitist, Moi? *
>  Tom Stoppard isn't trying to be highbrow. To prove it, his new play is
> about rock music … and revolution
> When his interviewer arrives, Tom Stoppard is standing outside the Broadway
> theater where his latest play, Rock 'n' Roll, is about to begin previews.
> Sporting an open white shirt with the sleeves partly rolled up and tousled
> (if graying) hair that still gives him the look of an overage college
> student, he's enjoying a cigarette in a circle of warm spring sunshine that
> has managed to find a hole in the Manhattan skyline. But he really should be
> off his feet. A few days earlier, in the rush to catch a plane to New York
> City, Stoppard stubbed his toe hard in his London apartment. He has just
> come back from the doctor, who told him the toe is broken and ordered him to
> stay off it as much as possible--after which, Stoppard walked 13 blocks to
> the theater.
> The spectacle of Tom Stoppard hoofing it through the theater district on a
> bum foot would be disconcerting to people who think of the playwright as
> something of an élitist. Ever since his sensational stage debut in 1967 with
> Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead--his absurdist riff on a pair of minor
> characters in Hamlet--Stoppard has become almost a genre unto himself,
> taking intellectual, often abstruse subject matter and turning it into
> challenging yet playful drama. His game, frequently, is the oddball
> juxtaposition: moral philosophy and gymnastics (Jumpers); Fermat's last
> theorem and Byron's love poetry (Arcadia); James Joyce and Vladimir Lenin
> (Travesties). "Tom said to me once that he decides on one play, and then
> shortly after decides on a different one," says Trevor Nunn, director of
> Rock 'n' Roll and several other Stoppard plays. "And then he lets them crash
> into each other." The Coast of Utopia, his nearly nine-hour trilogy about
> Russia's radical political thinkers of the 19th century, was a relatively
> straight-ahead historical journey (which is why this critic, at least,
> didn't rank it among his best), but it was an unexpectedly huge hit, playing
> to sold-out crowds during its run at New York City's Lincoln Center last
> season and winning seven Tony Awards, a record for a straight play. And that
> gives him the right to hobble into any Broadway theater with a play on just
> about any subject he wants.
> With Rock 'n' Roll, which took London by storm last year and opens on
> Broadway Nov. 4, Stoppard is exploring two more of his passions, one old and
> one relatively new. The play spans a couple of decades in the lives of a
> group of Czech political activists and British academics and shuttles back
> and forth between Cambridge and Prague in the years between the 1968 Soviet
> invasion and the "velvet revolution" of 1989. It's an exploration of
> political repression and commitment (with a typically Stoppardian digression
> into Sappho's poetry), but also a celebration of the rebel rock music that,
> in Stoppard's view, was as potent a force for revolution as Vaclav Havel's
> speeches. Scenes are punctuated with the sounds of groups like the Rolling
> Stones and the Plastic People of the Universe, a Czech band imprisoned
> during the Soviet crackdown--with a special nod to Syd Barrett, a founding
> member of Pink Floyd, who was ousted by his band over his erratic,
> drug-fueled, near psychotic behavior.
> Rock 'n' Roll is the first stage work Stoppard has written explicitly about
> Czechoslovakia, where he was born in 1937 but which he left as a baby when
> his parents fled the Nazis, moving to Singapore and then India before
> landing in Bristol, England.
> Until the fall of communism, he returned only once to the country, in 1977.
> "I began to have more identity as a Czech comparatively recently," he says.
> "To tell you the truth, I think it was my mother dying about 10 years ago
> that gave me permission to be Czech. Because my mother's whole attitude was
> to leave the past behind. So I tended to kind of just respect her attitude."
> A pause. "That's not the whole truth. The fact is, I loved being English. I
> was very happy to be turned into an English schoolboy."
> Those schoolboy days ended at age 17, when Stoppard went to work for a
> newspaper in Bristol. He covered the police beat and routine local news, but
> he also got to interview visiting celebrities--New Orleans jazz musicians,
> British movie-glamour queen Diana Dors. "I was so thrilled being a
> reporter," he says, "because it gave you the kind of access to people that
> you wouldn't ever get to meet." After a few years, he moved to London, where
> he continued to write reviews and celebrity profiles. In 1960 he talked his
> way into a trip to New York with a group of architects visiting the city's
> buildings and did a story for the Yorkshire Post on Lenny Bruce, whom he saw
> at the Village Vanguard and corralled outside for a 10-minute interview.
> Stoppard was taken by the irreverent comic (he even recalls some of his
> jokes, like Bruce's plea for world peace, urging all the nations of the
> world to get together and "kick the s___ out of the Polacks"). "His act was
> very scatological by English standards," he says. "But I was amazed by him."
> Stoppard's passion for rock music dates from his days in Bristol, where he
> would see most of the touring music acts that came to town--among them Frank
> Sinatra (who played the Bristol Hippodrome in the early '50s and didn't sell
> out), the Everly Brothers and Eddie Cochran, the rockabilly singer whose
> British tour ended when he was killed in a car crash in 1960. Like everyone
> else, Stoppard embraced the Beatles and Rolling Stones when they came along,
> but he admits to being a late bloomer when it came to Pink Floyd. "I ignored
> them completely at first," he says. "When Dark Side of the Moon came out, a
> friend of mine, a photographer, came over with the record and said, 'Please,
> listen to this. There's a play in this album.' I put it on top of this big
> wooden filing cabinet, and it stayed there for a year."
> The twice-divorced Stoppard, who turned 70 this year, is a grandfather now,
> but he keeps up with groups like Arcade Fire and the Arctic Monkeys. "I
> listen to what shows up, really out of curiosity more than anything else,"
> he says. "It's not often that something really gets to me." He goes to
> concerts only rarely--for the Stones when they tour and an occasional
> experiment like Oasis (a "brilliant songwriting band"). "I'm a very boring
> person," he insists. He doesn't go to movies, he says (though he writes
> plenty of them; see box), and spends most of his spare time reading--most
> recently Janet Malcolm's biography of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.
> His chief recreational passion is trout fishing, which he does four or five
> times a year, usually in Hampshire, England, but with periodic ventures to
> more exotic climes like New Mexico and Wyoming.
> Stoppard, who rolls his r's with a Continental flourish that somehow
> manages not to seem affected, bristles at the notion that his work is too
> highbrow or élitist for an ordinary audience--never mind that the New York
> Times felt the need to print a reading list for theatergoers who wanted to
> bone up before seeing The Coast of Utopia. He notes that his intellectual
> obsessions are hardly unique or rarefied. "The market for books about
> science and philosophy on the level on which I deal with things is a
> best-seller market," he says, pointing to authors like Steven Pinker,
> Richard Dawkins and Richard Feynman. It tickles him when he gets good
> reviews for his scientific accuracy in specialist publications. Yet he
> insists his goal is not to lift the audience's brow but simply to explore
> fresh subjects that engage him. "I've got no interest in educating or
> instructing people. It's entirely about my getting interested in something
> because of its dramatic possibilities. I'm not there to do Op-Ed on
> Broadway."
> Indeed, Stoppard has always stood apart from many other British playwrights
> of his generation, like David Hare, for avoiding an overtly political
> (usually left-wing) point of view. He describes his politics as "timid
> libertarian." Yet he can rev up a pretty bold rant on Britain's "highly
> regulated society," which he thinks is "betraying the principle of
> parliamentary democracy." There was the garden party he threw recently, for
> example, where because there was a pond on the property, he was required to
> hire two lifeguards. "The whole notion that we're all responsible for
> ourselves and we don't actually have to have nannies busybodying all around
> us, that's all going now. And I don't even know in whose interest it's
> supposed to be or who wishes it to be so. It seems to be like a lava flow,
> which nobody ordered up. Of course, one does know in whose interest it is.
> It's in the interests of battalions of civil servants in jobs that never
> existed 10 years ago."
> Don't call Tom Stoppard a snob. But try finding a political rant in America
> as polished as that.
> PHOTO (COLOR): Radical band Brian Cox and Nicole Ansari in Rock 'n' Roll
> ~~~~~~~~
> By Richard Zoglin
> Script Doctor  How Hollywood has used (or not used) Stoppard
> Film writing is "exciting and agreeable in the first half of the process,"
> says Stoppard. "And then you get reminded that it's a movie and it's not
> yours."
>  Screenplays He Wrote  SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE "The playhouse is for
> dreamers," says the Bard (Joseph Fiennes) to Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow) in
> Stoppard and Marc Norman's Oscar winner
>  BRAZIL Stoppard added jokes to Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown's
> futuristic sci-fi script, which earned an Oscar nomination and cult status
>  EMPIRE OF THE SUN Stoppard and Menno Meyjes streamlined J.G. Ballard's
> novel for Steven Spielberg and a 12-year-old Christian Bale
>  Screenplays He Helped Rewrite  SLEEPY HOLLOW Director Tim Burton tapped
> Stoppard to add humor to the more somber early draft of the Washington
> Irving story
>  STAR WARS: EPISODE III--REVENGE OF THE SITH Stoppard played Jedi master
> with the dialogue on George Lucas' last Star Wars film; he did not, however,
> tamper with Yoda's syntax
>  Drafts He Wrote  THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM Director Paul Greengrass didn't end
> up using Stoppard's take on Matt Damon's taciturn spy
>  HIS DARK MATERIALS: THE GOLDEN COMPASS His crack at the first film
> adaptation of Philip Pullman's fantasy novel was rejected in favor of a
> draft by director Chris Weitz
>  ------------------------------
> Copyright © Time Inc., 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this material
> may be duplicated or redisseminated without permission.
>  Back
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> ------------------------------
> Works Cited
> Gussow, Mel. "Happiness, chaos and Tom Stoppard." *American Theatre* 12.10
> (Dec. 1995): 22. *International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance with Full
> Text*. EBSCO. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation]. 26 Apr. 2009 <
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> ------------------------------
> In Tom Stoppard's radio play, Where Are They Now?, the author's surrogate
> looks back nostalgically on his school days, and defines happiness as "a
> passing change of emphasis." A dozen years later, the protagonist of The
> Real Thing reiterates the statement with his observation, "Happiness is
> equilibrium. Shift your weight." For Stoppard, equilibrium had become a
> credo, as he repositioned himself to suit the shifts in the world. Call it a
> Stop-pardian sense of gravity. The playwright provides his own ballast, as
> he tries to remain in the moral center of his own universe. If one needs a
> symbol of Stoppard's own inner balance, consider the pronunciation of his
> name. It is STOP-PARD, with the syllables evenly accented.
> His life and his work are crowded with apparent contradictions. Although he
> was born in Zlin, Czechoslovakia (as Tomas Straussler) and spent his early
> years in Singapore and India, he has become one of the most English of
> Englishmen. He currently lives in both Chelsea, London and Iver, Bucks,
> where he is a country squire with an English garden, a lawn for cricket, a
> tennis court and his neighbor's cows peeping through the windows of his
> house. His idea of Arcadia, of an idyllic environment, is the English
> countryside. Yet he spends most of his time in cities, is frequently flying
> from one to another, and has a very cosmopolitan nature
> Stoppard is one of the wittiest and most literate writers of the English
> language, but he left school at an early age and found his education working
> on a provincial English newspaper. (Coincidentally, none of England's
> pre-eminent living playwrights--Harold Pinter, Alan Ayckbourn and Stoppard
> went to university.) Although he has a gift for inventing epigrams,
> metaphors and circumlocutions, in his own reading he has great admiration
> for the understatement of Ernest Hemingway. Stoppard has no background in
> philosophy, philology, physics, metaphysics, mathematics or circus
> acrobatics, but his plays are filled with knowledgeable references to these
> and other specialized fields. In contrast to Pinter and Ayckbourn, he is
> untutored in the techniques of theatre, except for what he learned during
> his years as a drama critic and from working with and watching his
> directors. Yet his plays have a brilliant theatricality. He is, in fact, an
> exemplary autodidact, and a very quick study.
> In the plays, things are never quite what they seem to be. There are plays
> within plays, and in The Real Thing, a play outside the one we are watching.
> The image is that of an endless series of Chinese boxes or an exercise in
> recursion. Time plays tricks, as past and present coexist and sometimes
> brush against each other on the same stage. In many of his plays, there are
> echoes of his previous writings. The subject matter may shift from moral
> philosophy to quantum physics, but the voice is that of the author caught in
> the act of badinage, arguing himself in and out of a quandary.
> Most of his plays are inspired by a single central image (philosophy as
> gymnastics, a madman who thinks he has a symphony orchestra in his head).
> But, as the plays evolve, they become prisms, reflecting and refracting the
> author's ingenuity. Is Stoppard too clever by half, an intellectual rather
> than an emotional playwright? He confronts this and related questions during
> our conversations.
> When I talked to Stoppard in December 1994 in New York, he was on the brink
> of a very busy season. Hapgood, in its new version, was opening the
> following evening in Lincoln Center Theater's intimate Mitzi Newhouse
> Theater in a production starring Stockard Channing. That was to be followed
> several months later by Arcadia at Lincoln Center's large Vivian Beaumont
> Theater. Arcadia was a continuing success in London, and in February Indian
> Ink, his stage version of his radio play, In the Native State, was scheduled
> to open in the West End.
> Arcadia is one of his most ambitious and satisfying plays, a prismatic
> exploration of English history, horticulture, the chaos theory and the
> difference between the classical and romantic traditions. In the subtext are
> such issues as the pursuit of epiphany and the nature of genius. Along the
> way, people keep leaping to the wrong conclusions, which heightens the
> hilarity and the complexity. One of the many mysteries is who did what to
> whom in the game room or, rather, the game book, where Lord Byron, as a
> guest in this elegant country house, is recorded as having shot a hare. At
> the center of the play is an historian, Hannah Jarvis, but she is only one
> of a houseful of kaleidoscopic characters that emerge from the playwright's
> fervid imagination.
> In contrast to Arcadia, Hapgood had not been a critical success in its
> original production in London (in 1988). Since then, Stoppard had revised
> the play and clarified the plot. This devious comedy-mystery equates the
> wave-particle theory of light with the doubledealing world of espionage. The
> new version is 20 minutes shorter and clues the audience earlier that the
> spy named Ridley might have a double. In this Rubik's cube of a play, there
> are triple, perhaps even quadruple agents and a multiplidty of secret
> identities.
> After sudden shifts in his busy schedule, the peripatetic playwright was in
> a suite in a New York hotel, prepared for a long conversation. He lit the
> first of many cigarettes. His body was reasonably at rest, his mind
> restlessly in motion.
> MEL GUSSOW: You've said, "If there's a central idea in Hapgood, it is the
> proposition that in each of our characters is the working majority of a dual
> personality, part of which is always there in a submerged state."
> TOM STOPPARD: That was the hypothesis which generated the play itself--that
> the dual nature of light: works for people as .well: as things, and the one
> you meet in public is simply the working majority of that person. It's a
> conceit. It may have some truth to it.
> And the dual personality doesn't refer simply to counter-spies, but to
> Hapgood herself and others.
> It's not really dual personality. It's just that one chooses to "be" one
> part of oneself, and not another part of oneself. One has a public self and
> a submerged self. It's that sort of duality.
> Is one real, the other false?
> No, they're both part of the whole person.
> And it's something other than multiple personalities.
> It's not multiple personalities. It's a complex personality only part of
> which runs the show.
> Is that true in your life as well?
> Well, I wouldn't have the presumption to exempt myself [laughs] from this
> general rule.
> When you were a journalist, you operated both as a critic and as an
> interviewer, and you used different names.
> I did, only because it seemed a bit second-rate to write too many things on
> the same page. It wasn't that I was trying to conceal half of myself. But
> the thesis is really to do with people's temperaments. Their personal
> histories, like my personal history, is not central to the idea at all--the
> fact that I was born into one language, and grew up in another, and so on.
> That doesn't sound irrelevant by any means, but ifs not supposed to be a
> comment about that kind of life, about my kind of life.
> Do all your plays have an element of autobiography?
> I wonder. Perhaps it's something which it's impossible to escape, and one
> shouldn't protest against it, though I wouldn't have thought Rosencrantz and
> Guildenstern [Are Dead] had anything autobiographical in it. I'm not really
> the right kind of writer to oblige such a speculation because the area in
> which I feed off myself is really much more to do with thoughts I have had
> rather than days I have lived.
> A number of misconceptions have sprung up about you and your work, that
> your plays are divorced from your own life; also that you're very
> intellectual and unemotional. One certainly doesn't feel that in the scene
> in which Hapgood is so moved that she cries.
> That particular duality has become a bit of a cliche about me. It's rather
> a high-tech production of Hapgood, so it does encourage that view of the
> work.
> But there is a heart there.
> I don't think you would bother to write about it if it was about robots.
> It's only interesting because they're human beings.
> In searching for the arc of your career, I made a list of the principal
> subjects in the plays: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, theatre-philosophy; The
> Real Inspector Hound, theatre-journalism; Traveslies, lit-phil; Jumpers,
> phil-gym; Dirty Linen, pol-sex; Night and Day, journ-pol; Every Good Boy
> Deserves Favor, music-pol; Cahoot's Macbeth, theatre-pol; The Real Thing,
> theatre-love; Hapgood, sci-spy; Arcadia, lit-math-hortarch; Indian Ink,
> lit-art-pol-soc. It seems that the plays are becoming more inclusive or
> expansive.
> And yet Indian Ink is actually a very intimate play. It's a play of
> intimate scenes. There's something working against the notion that the plays
> are expanding in them horizons. There is a lot of lit in the plays and a lot
> of phil, which I think is a fair comment on what I'm made up of.
> A lot of lit and phil and more and more sci and phys.
> I've got a funny feeling the sci and phys are a phase, like delinquency,
> which one goes through.
> It's lasted two plays.
> Exactly, it's two plays. Two suggests purpose, misleadingly.
> One is singular, two is a coincidence, three is a trend.
> In the case of those two plays, they began because I stubbed my toe against
> two pieces of information or two areas of science which I found really
> interested me. It didn't seem to be a release of some scientist within me.
> On the contrary, it seemed to be going against what really interests me,
> what I choose to read, and so on. I thought that quantum mechanics and chaos
> mathematics suggested themselves as quite interesting and powerful metaphors
> for human behavior--not just behavior, but about the way, in the latter
> case, in which it suggested a determined life, a life ruled by determinism,
> and a life which is subject simply to random causes and effects. Those two
> ideas about life were not irreconcilable. Chaos mathematics is precisely to
> do with the unpredictability of determinism. Hifalutin' words, but it's
> actually a very fascinating door, a view through a cracked-open door.
> Pinning myself down to your question: I have no sense of looking for a third
> such fascinating scientific metaphor, and I have no reason to suppose that
> I'll stub my toe on a third one.
> How did you stub your toe against those two?
> Casually.
> Books in an airport?
> I joke like that, but it's not one book on one day. My life is sectioned
> off into hot flushes, pursuits of this or that. Rather in the same way as a
> year ago or more, a fairly quiescent interest in or sympathy towards Roman
> poetry and literature of antiquity suddenly had its turn. I think it turned
> into something more obsessive through reading about A. E. Housman, again
> somebody whom I had read for years on and off. That was another quiescent
> interest.
> Do you read Latin?
> I can't say I read Latin. I studied Latin up to what we call in England A
> level. So it's not gibberish to me. But I read it with cribs. What I enjoy
> is reading a particular poem or a poet in numerous translations, to see how
> different translators try to find the original. There's a play to be written
> about translation, I think.
> For your own translations, do you always work from a literal version?
> Yes. I've done two Schnitzlers, a Nestroy and a Molnar, and I worked on a
> Lorca. It doesn't feel like much over 30 years. Years and years ago, one of
> my resolutions--now a failed resolution was to learn a language well enough,
> Russian by choice, not simply for purposes of translation but so that I
> could read things the way they were meant to be understood.
> And what have you done about that?
> Nothing. I postponed reading War and Peace until I could read Russian. The
> result is now I cannot read Russian and I have not read War and Peace.
> Perhaps you need a long sabbatical.
> I don't know about these sabbaticals. My ambition is to retire, and has
> been for ages. When I say retire I mean just pladdly writing at my own speed
> without owing anything to anybody, without anybody waiting for what I'm
> writing. I never seem to manage to do that. I think it's a temperamental
> defect. That's pretty clear by now.
> To return to Arcadia, where did it begin? With James Gleick's book, Chaos?
> I think so. At the same time, I was thinking about Classicism and
> Romanticism as opposites in style, taste, temperament, art. I remember
> talking to a friend of mine, looking at his bookshelves, saying there's a
> play, isn't there, about the way that retrospectively one looks at poetry,
> painting, gardening, and speaks of classical periods and the romantic
> revolution, and so on. Particularly when one starts dividing people up into
> classical temperaments and romantic temperaments--and I suppose it's not
> that far from Hapgood in a way. The romantic temperament has a classical
> person wildly signalling, and vice versa.
> You and I tend to talk about all this as if it really works like that, as
> if there's this acorn that you find somewhere and put manure around, and
> water, and hope it grows into some kind of sapling, and so on and so forth.
> It doesn't seem to me to be that kind of orderly natural development.
> No single acorn?
> It's more than that. I have the feeling that you throw the acorn away at
> some point. You encourage me to talk about a book or a thought which
> generates everything that follows. It's true in a limited sense, but an
> alternative way of making a picture of the process would be to say that it's
> something that starts you up, like a motor gets started up, like a cranking
> handle. Then you throw the handle away, and drive off down the road
> somewhere and see where the road goes.
> What's an acorn that you've discarded?
> When it comes to it, I don't think Arcadia says very much about these two
> sides of the human personality or temperament. I don't think it's in the
> play. It's by no means in the foreground. And yet, it's firing all around
> the target, making a pattern around the target.
> Where does the texture start? Suddenly horticulture enters, and then Lord
> Byron. You didn't set out to write a play about horticulture and Byron?
> No, I didn't, but I had read one or two books about Byron over the years,
> and I was reading them with a faint sense of undisclosed purpose. [ suppose
> if you're my kind of writer you're always working. One's leisure reading is
> subconsciously purposeful.
> You still write in longhand and then dictate it into a tape recorder?
> Yes. I do exactly that with new work, but when I'm rewriting or changing
> things, I now prefer to give my secretary lots and lots of pages with
> longhand and squiggles, "insert here." I love working on a typescript. I
> love the power of the blue pencil. "This is rubbish, take it out. Put this
> in. Turn it around."
> Is it a canard that you're a conservative?
> Would it be one? I always thought of myself as a conservative, not in a
> sort of ideological way. I'm really a bit of a failure talking about
> politics because I never get into the subject or issues in the manner in
> which a responsible citizen really ought to. I respond in some other way
> aesthetically even, certainly emotionally. Emotionally I like to conserve. I
> don't like impulsive change. But what I like and don't like certainly
> doesn't divide up into things that the Conservative Party or the Labor Party
> does.
> I was very pleased with Mrs. Thatcher at the beginning. I thought of her as
> being a subversive influence, which I found very welcome. The
> Wilson-Callaghan pre-Thatcher years in English politics I thought were
> nauseating. I thought politicians had become people one didn't bother to
> listen to because they seemed desperately anxious not to expose their flanks
> to any side. There were very few unqualified statements of intent. I loved
> the way she came in. I was very personally interested in the whole saga of
> print unions, for example, a huge corrupt scandal which government after
> government wouldn't tackle.
> Which brings us to [Rupert] Murdoch as well. I think he's a very had
> influence on English, or indeed global, cultural life. Ten years ago, he was
> a sort of hero for me, for sending the printers packing. The printers were
> making newspapers into an impossible economic proposition, and I love
> newspapers. I was excited when Murdoch came in his Australian underhanded
> way with a lot of money behind him and just destroyed them. It was well
> overdue.
> You've been so strong on human rights. What about human rights for
> printers?
> I don't think you have a human right to cheat and steal. There were
> printers signing on as Mickey Mouse. I just think they pushed their luck.
> Murdoch said, it's not a union, it's a protection racket. I think that was
> probably quite fair.
> But then you turned against Murdoch.
> That's part of a shift of feeling about the press as a whole. Night and Day
> contains statements which are still flourished. I read one last week by
> people who want to leave the press completely untrammelled. I don't know
> what I want now. I've arrived at a kind of defensive position, which is not
> entirely where I stand intellectually. I've decided that getting cross about
> the press is like getting cross about the Flat Earth Society. It's become an
> awful joke. What I find upsetting about the notorious end of the British
> press is what it says about the readership. I think the tabloid press treat
> their readers almost as if they are morons. And it's awful the way the
> readers don't seem to mind.
> You've said, "Journalism is the last line of defense in this country."
> I think that's still true. I think people would be getting away with much
> more, were it not for newspapers blowing the whistle, or just being there to
> observe.
> Could you imagine having stayed in journalism and not being a playwright?
> No. Looking at it now, I would think of that as an unhappy outcome, not
> because I love the theatre, in quotes, but because it was wonderful to work
> for myself and not have to be accountable to somebody. I have a formulation
> about the luck we've had, which is that people like myself appear to have
> promoted a recreation into a career. We're getting away with it, and it's
> the getting away with it part which I don't want to lose. It seems quite
> capricious, the way one profession is rewarded over another one. There's an
> evolution in every kind of society, particularly now in what we call the
> free-market society, where certain pursuits are amazingly over-rewarded.
> Being a popular singer, or in a band. There's no logic in it.
> For you, having chosen playwriting, it's a kind of super freelance. You're
> not beholden to anyone.
> No. I'm one of the people who fall into the over-rewarded category, I
> suppose. I don't coast on it. I work harder than I used to when I was a
> reporter. But it feels different. I do it for myself.
> You've talked about writing a play about your growing up in India. Is
> Indian Ink the play?
> No. I had talked about writing about the ethos of empire, and I suppose
> that's a very good example of what we were speaking about earlier: the acorn
> hasn't been thrown away. But it's not really just that. It's much more an
> intimate play than a polemical play. One kids oneself along that every
> little shred of reference to the larger subject resonates through the whole
> piece, and enlarges the play. That's just a kind of sweet thought by the
> playwright.
> Does it surprise you that you've dealt with so many different subjects?
> No. I'm a bit of a gadfly. Different things catch my interest for a while,
> and I have a hot flush about it, and something else catches my interest. Of
> course, a gadfly is not the ultimate compliment.
> It borders on the dilettante.
> Precisely. What we're leaving out: The cake is upside down. Theatre is a
> popular art form, it's part of the world of relief and release, of
> entertainment. That's what it's for. The other bit of the cake which is to
> do with formulating and promulgating and examining and revealing issues,
> life that's a program that can be continued through other means: journalism,
> television, essays. There's a case for the view that if you've chosen to
> work for the theatre, your fundamental objective is to be part of an art
> form that diverts, entertains and instructs rather than that you're engaged
> in teaching your fellow citizens certain lessons.
> You said that if you wanted to change the world, the last thing you would
> do is write a play.
> What I really meant was that if there is a local concrete problem which you
> want to change, yes. I said that, but I'm not sure that it's entirely
> watertight. Maybe the way to continue our conversation about newspapers
> would be to write a play.
> Is plot still difficult for you?
> Can't you tell? [Laughs.] With Arcadia I got lucky. I didn't know it would
> work out like that. Like most writers like most people-- if I could live a
> slightly different kind of life, it would make an enormous amount of
> difference to how much I wrote, and the quality of what I wrote.
> Occasionally you get into a period where mentally you're living with this
> play, nothing is interrupting you, and all the possibilities the neurons or
> nerve ends you're aware of them all and, consciously or subconsciously, you
> make the best possible use of them. If you have enough solitude and
> concentration, you can make the best of the opportunity. But a lot of the
> time I'm writing in a kind of harassed, interrupted way. I came to the
> conclusion the other day that the information is being fed in the wrong
> order in the second act of Indian Ink. I came back from Hapgood and looked
> at it for an hour and a half before I fell asleep. It's all done in the
> space of an hour here, an hour there. That's not how to do these things.
> You might say from the evidence that you thrive on that process.
> Well, no. With Arcadia, I had a really good period of time, where somehow I
> could keep it all in view and look further down the road and see where
> things were heading, and manipulate the material so I could intersect
> properly. The more I got into it, the more I realized that this was going to
> work as a piece of storytelling. Hapgood was a kind of struggle from the
> word go, and I was still dealing with it at Lincoln Center, trying to
> explain, simplify. We started off by referring to it as a melodrama. The way
> you label something is very helpful; it gets you out of the corner. Once I
> began to think of Hapgood as a melodrama, I felt much more comfortable with
> it, because it is melodramatic. It's not satiric about the spy business. It
> operates on a heightened, slightly implausible level of life. It's probably
> the only play I've written, as far as I can remember offhand, in which
> somebody shoots somebody else on stage.
> It has to work on that level for the audience to accept it.
> It absolutely does. The thing about melodrama is that if the audience makes
> the right decision about it, they accept everything. If they make the wrong
> decision about it early on, then the drama actually becomes silly.
> How would you categorize Arcadia?
> Because I was happy with it anyway, I didn't need to label it. I didn't
> need to get myself off the hook.
> Some people think it's your best play.
> I know they do. I think that's what they're talking about: the story works
> best.
> But you know some of your plays are better than others.
> Of course. And in spite of defects I'm aware of and would like to correct
> on all of them, I also think that some of them actually are good, better
> than good sometimes. I'm now contradicting myself. If I have to talk about
> them at all, which I never volunteer to do, I'd rather use a phrase like
> "madcap comedy," to dissemble. In a much simpler sense, there's a modest
> person hiding a proud person, I suppose. I never thought I would manage to
> write a play at all. It was something I wanted to do, but I was astonished
> when I managed to do it. Just seemed to be something that would be too
> difficult for me to do when I was starting out.
> You used to say, and I never entirely believed it, that all your characters
> sounded like you.
> I used to say it because I used to think it was true, and maybe it was true
> in those days. i think everybody in Night and Day, sounds like me, for
> example. It's less true now. This was literally true of Night and Day in one
> isolated case: I took a speech away from one character and gave it to
> another, and it made no difference. I just needed somebody to say something
> at that point. In that sense, they were all speaking with my voice. In a
> limited way, you might say that they were interchangeable. So I meant it
> when I said it, but I wouldn't say it nowadays.
> It's not true of Arcadia, and it's not true of Indian Ink.
> No, it's not.
> Years ago, at the time of The Real Thing, Mike Nichols said you were one of
> the few happy people he knew. When I mentioned that to you, you were
> offended by the word happy, you said that you were as unhappy as the next
> man.
> Boasting about my unhappiness!
> Are you a happy man?
> Yes. I'm just looking at the word happy for a moment. Mike was always
> tremendously pleased by the definition of happiness in that play. "Happiness
> is equilibrium. Shift your weight." Attaining your happiness, if you're
> talking about me, is learning that lesson. You try not to stand in the way
> of the onrushing train, to change the metaphor. But in fact I suppose what
> you're remembering is that happiness seems to imply a turning away from
> whatever might compromise your happiness. One is exposed naked in the winds
> of the world, and everybody around you has got problems. Some are acute,
> some are less serious than others. You live in the little world of your
> family and the larger world of your colleagues and the huge world of
> newspaper and television news. So happiness is not really a very adequate
> word. When I said I felt blessed by good fortune, that's generally the
> truth. Clearly your life and everyone's life is full of things that make you
> unhappy from time to time. You just deal with them.
> That reminds me again of the boy in your play, Where Are They Now?
> That indeed is the play where that character says happiness is a passing
> shift of emphasis. I do have an idyllic vision of life. Whether one has a
> right to live it is another matter. It's to do with self-reliance. It's
> cultivating your garden without being pulled, without having one's sleeve
> tugged by what's happening outside the wall.
> PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): Tom Stoppard
> PHOTOS (BLACK & WHITE): Classical or romantic? You be the judge in
> Stoppard's Arcadia, seen here in two productions directed by Trevor Nunn. At
> right, Felicity Kendal and Samuel West appeared at Britain's National
> Theatre. Below, Billy Crudup and Jennifer Dundas at New York's Lincoln
> Center Theater.
> PHOTOS (BLACK & WHITE): "Hapgood is not satiric about the spy businesszz It
> operates on a heightened, slightly implausible level of life." Above, Jo Ann
> Carney, Dan LaMorte and Gus Bustinice, left to right, in a production
> directed by Mary Zimmerman at Chicago's Center Theatre Ensemble. Below,
> David Lansbury and Stockard Channing in Jack O'Brien's Lincoln Center
> Theater staging.
> PHOTOS (BLACK & WHITE): "I'm a bit of a gadfly." Above, a scene from
> Rosencranz and Gaildenstern Are Dead, in a production at the New Jersey
> Shakespeare Festival; which featured, from left, Davis Hall, Bub Ari, Eric
> Tavaris, Eduardo Patino and John Nichols. Above right, Michael Gross and
> Linda Purl in The Real Thing at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood. Below
> right, lsiah Whitlock Jr. and DeAnn Meats in Night and Day at San
> Francisco's American Conservatory Theater.
> ~~~~~~~~
> Mel Gussow, who writes about theatre for the New York Times, is the author
> of Conversations with Pinter and Conversations with Stoppard (both Limelight
> Editions). This article is excerpted by permission from the latter, which
> was published last month.
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Christopher W. Jones
Towson University '09
Dartmouth College '08

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