Mother Courage and Her Children (Brecht)

Either I don’t remember it or I have honestly never seen this one on stage. I imagine it’s very powerful and heavily dependent on the casting of Mother Courage herself. I do see why Lynn Nottage’s Ruined is considered a new version of the play.

RUINED at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago

This translation, from Eric Bentley, does not come off as didactic as I’ve learned to expect from Brecht. Does anyone have another translation to recommend? In terms of teaching, I think there’s more for me to chew on here than, say, A Doll’s House, but I’m not sure. Could I do both? At least I could be reasonably sure that students would read plays.

There’s a powerful ending here, one I’d like to see on stage because of how it would need to be staged. The more I think about it, the more I think this could be a strong possibility.


A Doll’s House (Ibsen)

I have certainly seen it a few times, but wanted to read it in order to think about teaching it. On one level, it’s very appealing. It’s structured and clear. Is it too clear? Is there any real room for interpretation? Argument? Maybe I should see it again. If you were going to teach it, what other texts would you use for support? I bought, for no great reason, the McGuinness version? Does someone have another to recommend? Thinking, thinking, thinking. . .

3 Tragedies (Lorca)

I was first introduced to Federico Garcia Lorca by a magnificent play about him called, Lorca in a Green Dress by Nilo Cruz. From there, I had to investigate. I found and marveled at his poetry. It’s hard to find productions of his plays, so this seemed like a worthwhile book to explore. There’s such passion in these plays, that prose cannot always contain them. I’ve heard them described as very difficult to produce and now I see why. Still, I’d love to see a company make an effort, maybe even do something in repertory, for there is a thematic overlap here. These characters are in love and not always with the right person. They feel restrained in part because they seem to have no privacy. There is a strong element of class here. In other words, these are characters who can’t afford privacy.

And you have to read the loving and lovely introduction to this collection by the author’s brother, Francisco. I am not usually one for introductions, but this one is well worth your time.

Have you ever seen a production of one of his plays? What did you think?

Dutchman (Jones)

Well, those were 38 very intense pages. I can’t imagine what the reaction was to it in 1964. I am looking forward to seeing it next week.

It runs July 26-29.

Given that the play features just two performers, casting has to be key. The back and forth between the white woman (Lula) and the black man (Clay) is taut; Clay’s final speech is absolutely explosive and, despite the gap of over 50 years, remarkably timely.

I can see the pairing with Get Out and, in a different way, The Zoo Story.

I don’t think it ruins anything to read it first. This is one of the stories where knowing the ending just makes the lead up to it more powerful.

Topdog / Underdog (Parks)

When I first heard about this plot, I was skeptical. Two brothers named Lincoln and Booth. Two African-American brothers named Lincoln and Booth. Lincoln gets a job at an amusement park portraying Abraham Lincoln which requires him to wear whiteface and allow tourists to assassinate him. Can you see what I mean? But Parks pulls it off with humor and a claustrophobic intensity. And to imagine Don Cheadle and Jeffrey Wright in the roles. . . well, wow. I’d love to see it.

Sweat (Nottage)

One of my favorite times of the year comes when theatres announce their shows for the following seasons. It always seems possible to see everything. One I won’t miss is Lynn Nottage’s Sweat. I saw one of her earlier plays, Ruined, and was blown away not only but the play, but the research and interviews that went into creating it.

This play, set in a very different time and place, does overlap with Ruined in one essential way. What, she asks in both plays, will people do when they seem to have very few choices?

The characters who populate the bar that is the setting for this play have to contend with each other, with current events, and with family history. No one gets out unscathed, and I think a Director must have quite a challenge centering the play. Whose story is it? There’s certainly no one without flaws and ulterior motives. It’s one of those plays where you’d like to get inside the heads of any number of characters to find out what they are really thinking.

How did we get here? This play tells us.

Nottage’s site


Sweat at the Cleveland Playhouse