Friday, August 26, 2016

The bird that I hope to catch in the net of this play is not the solution of one man’s psychological problem. I’m trying to catch the true quality of experience in a group of people, that cloudy, flickering, evanescent—fiercely charged!—interplay of live human beings in the thundercloud of a common crisis. Some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a play, just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the revelation of character in life, even in one’s own character to himself. This does not absolve the playwright of his duty to observe and probe as clearly and deeply as he legitimately can: but it should steer him away from “pat” conclusions, facile definitions which make a play just a play, not a snare for the truth of human experience.

- Tennessee Williams

Thursday, August 25, 2016

from "The Oracle," by M.J. Engh

"How can you live....How do you bear it?" 
He moved closer, not explicitly smiling, but all his face and body, his very hands, expressing something of a smile. "It's not hard," he said. 
"Tell me." 
"I've always known," he said, " -- no, not always, but since I was a child -- I've known that we live on quicksand....on the side of a volcano....on an earthquake fault. You know that any minute of any day or night the roof can fall on your head, the floor can open below your feet, the earth itself can suck you down. And somehow when you know this -- when you know you always live surrounded by unappealable forces so much stronger than you -- then you are not the slave of those forces. When you must build your house on quicksand, you don't count on its standing. You find your security in yourself; because your self is all you have. And if you're a Buddhist you know that even your self is quicksand. In a way I don't exist, I'm an illusion. This self is only an accumulation of particles and forces interacting, clinging together for a second or a century. But this accumulation, this tension, this equilibrium that I call Philippe Montoya -- this is all I have. When it falls apart, then Philippe Montoya has no more problems. But until then, Philippe Montoya exists -- and what difference does it make what happens outside? Philippe Montoya exists." 
Philippe Montoya could never speak to her like that in the flesh, she knew. But if he could have spoken, that was what he would say.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

books read in August 2016

Fiction is in red. Date of first publication in (parentheses).

48. Summer Brave, William Inge (1962)
49. Picnic, William Inge (1953)
50. The Strains of Triumph: A Life of William Inge, Ralph F. Voss (1989)
51. The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, E. K. Weaver (2015)
52. The Drama of Marriage: Gay Playwrights/Straight Unions from Oscar Wilde to the Present, John M. Clum (2012) (heard about this re Inge and Williams)
53. Jingo, Terry Pratchett (1997) (part of a City Watch books readthrough)
54. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett (1999) (ditto)
55. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett (2002)
56. Thud, Terry Pratchett (2005)

all 2016 booklist posts

Friday, August 12, 2016

If you have not listened to this concert, GO NOW. NOT EVEN KIDDING.

This closes the interview. I thank her. She says, "You're welcome," and my editor and I leave the car. We sit on the stairs for a few minutes to catch our breath. We spent all weekend chasing Lauryn Hill, hoping to have this conversation about her voice. I compared it to a video game with infinite levels you didn't even know existed, like when you beat a level and you think you won, but then you go through a door and there's a whole other world you have to conquer. Getting to Lauryn Hill was like that.

Sara Sarasohn, my editor, compared the chase to the Israelites rising up and following the cloud over the Tent of Meeting. In the Torah, when the Israelites are wandering in the desert, there was a cloud over the Tent of Meeting, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. When the cloud lifted and moved, the Israelites would see it and know that it was time for them to move as well in their journey through the desert. It was like the presence of Hill was this cloud that we could see in the distance, and we were trying to follow it, and finally, we got to the Tent of Meeting.

Sitting on the stairs together, Sara and I couldn't help but cry, just a little. We talked to Lauryn Hill. And she's doing fine.

- Zoe Chace, 2010

Ms. Lauryn Hill on Austin City Limits "Ready or Not"

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Monday, August 8, 2016


Eugene Lee as August Wilson in "How I Learned What I Learned"

August Wilson, The Art of Theater No. 14 (Winter 1999)

You were the director.

And I acted when the actors didn’t show up. As the director, I knew all the lines and I took over more times than I wanted to. I didn’t know much about directing, but I was the only one willing to do it. Someone had looked around and said, “Who’s going to be the director?” I said, “I will.” I said that because I knew my way around the library. So I went to look for a book on how to direct a play. I found one called The Fundamentals of Play Directing and checked it out. I didn’t understand anything in it. It was all about form and mass and balance. I flipped through the book and there in Appendix A I discovered what to do on the first day of rehearsal. It said, “Read the play.” So I went to the first rehearsal very confidently and I said, “Okay, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to read the play.” We did that. Now what? I hadn’t got to Appendix B. So I said, “Let’s read the play again.” That night I went back to the book and sort of figured out what to do from that point on.