Next day. Same time. Same place.
Saw Sean Mathias’ production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot last night. Woke up sad that it was yesterday and it’s over. It (so knowingly) passed the time.
I really enjoyed the production, particularly the physicality of it – the gestures, the slapstick. When they said ‘calm yourself’, they would put one hand on their heart and pat it with the other. When Pozzo sat he took a long time to do so. (And one of the highlights of my night was seeing audience members joyously imitating him when they returned to their seats at intermission.)
The cast were wonderful and well-suited to their roles. Roger Rees was heartbreaking as Vladimir – in his distress, his frustration, his hope. Sir Ian McKellen was cheeky, at times hilariously so, as Estragon: poking out his tongue, dancing (Michael Jackson-style) and speaking with an accent. Pozzo and Lucky were also great – Pozzo’s big facial expressions and real tears, Lucky’s Riff-Raff hairdo and coming alive in his big ‘think’-speech.
The sound design was clever, such as when Didi and Gogo came to the front of the stage and it seemed as though they hit a force field. And I was fortunate to be close enough to the stage to note the details on the set (a grey, apocalyptic landscape), and to smell Pozzo’s cherry tobacco smoke.
The play itself: well, it’s about everything and nothing, isn’t it? The passing of time and the occupation of time, trying not to look at death, needing someone and not wanting anyone, the futility of existence (of nature, of happiness, even), moments of panic, feeling tired of it all (getting used to it all), and hope (and maybe, company) being the only thing keeping them from truly pursuing the rope and the tree.
My copy of Elif Batuman’s The Possessed arrived in the mail last week:
After reading this wonderful book, I tracked down Elif for a ‘responsive’ interview, which I’ll post here very soon.
I very much enjoyed my session at the Williamstown Literary Festival last Sunday. Lisa Dempster and I spoke about blogging to an interested and engaged audience, who were full of questions. Thanks so much for coming! I also have an article on blogging coming up in the NSW Writers Centre magazine, Newswrite.
I fell in love with the little suburb of Williamstown, too. It’s quiet, on the beach, and features some gorgeous old cottages and colourful, cluttered gardens. The locals were all very friendly. G and I had lunch at the Rotunda, down by the beach and watched kids play.
By the by, G has written about the Tim Burton exhibition, which is coming to Melbourne. He’s also looking to talk to some hardcore Burton fans, for an article he’s writing. Know anyone? Particularly if they’re inked with something Burtonesque… Let him know via Twitter.
You might also have caught me in Epicure, in the Age last Tuesday, with my fridge?
Last week, I sojourned down to Sydney for an intense couple of days at UWS. Besides meetings, there was a seminar by Marion May Campbell, called Staging Disappearance, where she looked at works from Monique Wittig and Angela Carter. I found it complex, but her discussion of punctuation was enlightening – the / in Wittig’s work – a fracture, an opening for ‘resignification and transformation’; and the semicolons in Angela Carter’s story ‘The Bloody Chamber’: ‘A mere semicolon separates desire from its object’. I found Campbell’s language creatively expansive, even if I did not agree with, or even follow, everything. I love thinking about the body – presence, absence/interior, exterior/veiled, sectioned, objectified; and as one of the academics put it: as a machine of pleasure, and of violence.
Two necessary links for you this week:
Paper Radio. A new audio journal. Download the first fiction podcast, Chris Somerville’s story ‘The Drowning Man’ from the website, or access it from iTunes.
Literary Magazines Australia. A portal for some of our finest.