[arcadia_group] Re: The game plan- READ

  • From: William Robinson <wrobin3@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: arcadia_group@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 4 May 2009 14:22:13 -0400

Hey Tom, here's my slide.

On Sun, May 3, 2009 at 5:31 PM, Christopher Jones <
cjones20@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> 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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>> EBSCO Publishing   Citation Format: MLA (Modern Language Assoc.):
>> *NOTE:* Review the instructions at 
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>> and make any necessary corrections before using. Pay special attention to
>> personal names, capitalization, and dates. Always consult your library
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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 <
>> http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy-tu.researchport.umd.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ibh&AN=9512142530&site=ehost-live
>> >.
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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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