Friday, February 5, 2021

Process XV

"If I'm not telling the emotional truth of something, it's not worth telling."
- Hilton Als, February 5, 2021

I have written two stage adaptations of the novels by Agatha Christie, for The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Secret Adversary. In preparation for those works I read several other novels by Agatha Christie. I am currently reading Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile and her own adaptation for the stage, Murder on the Nile, for a play reading group I will be leading in March. 

I can now well and truly state that I have had it with Agatha Christie.

I have enjoyed her work in the past, I have even found it amusing. But Nile has broken me. There are too many players on the pitch and they all blend together for me. Who can keep track of all of these feckless white people? Meaningless, high class, white-privileged bullshit.

I understand Christie is supposed to be a distraction, but from what? Or rather, to what? To a world built on the backs of all the subjects of the British empire. Horrid, racist depictions of grubbing Arabs, silly Irish servants, and no Afro-Caribbean people to speak of. What would Christie have to say to a so-called  “Negro” character? What conversation could they possibly have?

Meanwhile, in craft and theory of playwriting we had a refresher on Aristotle’s Poetics. The last time I had a go at this I was an eighteen year-old college freshman, and his/their six elements of drama sure sounds different to a middle-aged playwright than a callow, young actor. The first four are all about the writing, the last two about all elements of design and performance.

Are you insane? Without the actor there would BE no theatre!

Today I’m like, yep.

It was a big week for guest speakers, which is one of the perks of going back to school. We met Justin Hall, comics artist and editor of the gay comix anthology No Straight Lines, and on Friday I had the opportunity to participate in an artistically and emotionally restorative workshop with Hilton Als, New Yorker theater critic.

Als was a very generous and thoughtful speaker. We joined him via Zoom, of course, and were treated to the image of one of his bookshelves, overflowing with books.

Speaking of which, James has installed two bookcases into our upstairs hallway. Those partcile board cases which had been there were ill proportioned and took up too much unnecessary space. These are perfect for their position in the hall and rise to the ceiling -- just like they would in an NYC apartment.

Now I just need the time to paint them.

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