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February 5th, 2008

There and Back Again

I've got something that looks like a full first draft.

My plan is to let it lie and percolate over the (ultra-busy) rest of the week and weekend. And then, come Monday morning, I'll spread it out, take up my scissors and my trusty Scotch tape, and begin to move things around.

We celebrated with dinner with a Paris friend, in town for AWP, and a performance of Oroonoko, partly by Aphra Behn. Apparently, her friend Thomas Southerne turned her original novelette into a play in 1695, seven years after her death. It was a violent melodrama with Noble Savages, Evil Governors, and Love Betrayed, and was very popular into the 19th century, when it fell out of favor. In 1998, one Biyi Bandele was asked, by the Royal Shakespeare Company, no less, to put together a modern redaction of the play, with a little less White Man's Burden and Noble Savagery and a little more Africa and actual, you know, history. It's a bit of a Franken-play, but very stirring for all that. And the actors were wonderful, especially in the newly-written bit set in Africa. Everybody had a bit of trouble with Southerne's not particularly mighty lines in the second half. But much scenery was satisfyingly chewed and everybody worth a plug nickel was dead at the end, which is, after all, what melodrama is all about.

Why is it, do you think, that melodrama has gone so thoroughly and entirely out of favor? A good number of people walked out of the theatre during the intermission, and it certainly wasn't because the acting wasn't good.

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