Thursday, December 02, 2004
The second half consists of a symbolist drama by Maurice Maeterlinck. Symbolist drama had a brief flowering at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Characters are not so much real as archetypes, the language is poetic, sometimes very dense and often not very clear, and the settings are frequently a dream-like medieval world that's usually recreated on stage by shrouding everything in layers and layers of luminous fog. In our production, actors and dancers work with each other to tell the story and create a mood which is, in a word, gloomy.
The play we're doing is "The Death of Tintagiles." Tintagiles (pronounced, roughly Tan-ta-ZHEEL) is an extremely annoying little boy who lives with a couple of his sisters in a remote kingdom where their parents have apparently been killed by an evil Queen who is never seen but whose very name engenders dread in all who hear it. After about forty-five minutes, Tintagiles is lured through a heavy castle door that closes and that his sisters can never penetrate. Something quite dreadful, but definitely highly symbolic, happens to him and he (finally!) dies. The play ends with one of the sisters weeping--the other has disappeared, should anyone care.
It's been rather difficult to sit through this piece night after night as we've been going through final rehearsals--the problem with symolist drama is that once you've grasped the symbols, there's very little left to occupy the mind. And there's very little light to see it by as symbolist drama thrives in the shadows.
Fortunately the technical director and I made a mutual-aid agreement to alternate nights this week instead of both of us being there all the time. So Fritz and I were able to get away for a nice Thai dinner and an evening at the architecture studio of a good friend. H. wanted us to join in the review
of a project to completely reimagine the outdoor Publick Theater that's set in a park on banks of the Charles River. Five student architects presented projects, at least three of which were dynamic, imaginative and very well presented in general. The evening flew and it's always a pleasure to be invited to do the reviews with him. Tonight I have one more evening to be in the theater watching Tintagiles die, and then I'm off the hook for good!