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One of the best college courses I took introduced me to the plays of Ibsen, Chekhov and Strindberg. They are the founders of modern drama from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Henrik Ibsen believed in the power of the truth. His plays were realistic and ahead of their time. My favorite of his plays is Hedda Gabler. A Doll’s House and An Enemy of the People are probably his best known. An Enemy of the People was apparently written as a reaction to the his previous play Ghosts. To me, it’s too simple a defense of the truth. It was followed by The Wild Duck, the most ambiguous of the Ibsen plays I know which shows there can be consequences for telling the truth. There’s a fine German film of it. I saw it about 40 years ago and don’t think it’s available in the US now.
There are only four major plays by Anton Chekhov. My favorite is Uncle Vanya but the critical consensus probably favors The Three Sisters or The Cherry Orchard. Chekhov loves his characters for their faults as well as their virtues.
August Strindberg is the most versatile of the three. He is best known for Miss Julie.
There are comprehensive biographies of Ibsen and Strindberg by Michael Meyer who also translated their plays. I’ve read the Ibsen one which is outstanding.
I saw performances of Uncle Vanya and Ghosts.
Uncle Vanya was performed in New York in 1973 and directed by Mike Nichols. Here’s the New York Times review. Nicol Wiliamson was outstanding as Vanya and the cast included George C. Scott, Julie Christie and Lillian Gish.
I saw Ghosts at the Kennedy Center in Washington in 1982. Here’s an article about Liv Ullman who starred in it. It looks like the same production also was in New York.
Rockabye Hamlet is a musical adapted from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. It lasted for seven performances on Broadway in 1976. I saw one of them. Tickets were cheap, the attendance was sparse, and we moved up near the front. It was a lavish production directed by Gower Champion who had directed Hello Dolly among other shows. Meat Loaf was one of the cast members.
Making a musical of Hamlet is a terrible idea. All of the main characters die. This doesn’t happen in musicals which are usually upbeat. There had been successful Shakespeare musicals in the 1970s but they were based on the comedies, not the tragedies. This was like something out of The Producers.
I graduated college with a degree in English. I had 30 credits in literature and 12 in writing. A friend said I majored in reading for pleasure and she wasn’t wrong.
I almost had a double major – the other one would have been history. I wound up with 27 credits in history and needed 30. By my first term of my senior year, I was cutting a lot of classes. I hadn’t been to my history class for a while so I decided to check them out in late November or early December. I walked in and they were taking the final! The professor would have let me make up the work with a paper but I never did that. For that semester, I had four A’s in English classes and an incomplete in my history class.
My favorite period to study was the American Civil War In the early 1960s, there was a lot of attention paid to it because of the 100th anniversary of the war. In the summer of 1963, right before I turned 10, my family went to Virginia and toured Civil War battlefields. When we got back, I started reading adult Civil War books such as those by Bruce Catton. I never had a phase of reading books for teenagers. I went from kids books to adult books.
We had a hamster when I was young. I was probably about 12 when I decided to put Fang on a turntable. When I played it at 16, he was running like he did on the wheel and he was ahead of the pace of the turntable. At 33, he was even. At 45, he was losing ground. At 78, he was airborne.
I never played him at 78 again.
A new version of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) from the Depression should be part of today’s economic recovery. It not only built infrastructure projects but also funded art such as books, music, photographs and murals.
Phunky Threads will make a doormat from your scan or photo of a ticket stub. I think they did a great job. The ticket was from Jason Isbell’s first solo tour after he left the Drive-By Truckers. Fletcher’s was a bar that only held a few hundred people. I saw an incredible Drive-By Truckers show there in 2003. That show is available here.