Haskell

I took one of them Internet quizzes on “what programming language are you?” and was told that I am Haskell, a polymorphicly typed, lazy, purely functional language. Looking at the site makes me think it’s pretty cool — I had never heard of it, which is unsurprising. I know the amazingly cool Manu is a programming language h4xx0r, but just reading up their propaganda on why they are so cool was pretty interesting. Since the most complicated coding I really need to do is in MATLAB, I don’t know what I would do with Haskell, but I actually considered making it a project to learn it. Hooray learning! Of course, I have no time, so bollocks to that idea.

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Experimental Theatre from Stanislavsky to Peter Brook

by James Roose-Evans. This is an old book, and so misses out on any real developments from the 80s on, but it does a nice job of contexualizing and describing the genesis of different avant-garde theater movements. It is restrictive to talk about Theatre rather than Performance, but he doesn’t give short shrift to other modes of performance — instead he describes how they influenced works that grew out of the theatre. A notable exception is Martha Graham, who he talks about in depth, which was fascinating.

For someone who’s read bits and pieces about the Open Theater, Peter Brook, Grotowski, Barba, and Artaud, this book is a short read to tie it all together. I felt like I lacked the big picture view of theater, and now I don’t. Now I feel like the techniques used by these different artists should enter more mainstream productions. A familiarity with different approaches to the theatrical is not just a way to learn some jargon. Many of the ideas of the avant-garde can help to create a more immediate theater, to find ways to make theater relevant to the audience in a way that changes them rather than one that follows blindly the old tropes into the graveyard. More on this to come.

The War Boys

by Naomi Wallace. This is a play about three kids who go down to the US-Mexico border to spot illegal crossings — they get a bounty for each person they help the border patrol catch. I don’t have too much to say about this play, except that it manages to accomplish two things on stage that I have so far failed to really get — how the worship of charisma can make people go against their nature (c.f. my one-act Young and Healthy), and how people escape into fantasy to avoid their problems. These three boys, the War Boys, joke with each other, but their kidding borders dangerously on their own pent-up rage and insecurities.

In the end, the play didn’t work for me, although some of the moments are beautiful — Wallace is a genius at finding something in people talking across each other, in having one character lose themselves in their own fantasy while the others join in, but in a way that comments on, rather than reinforces. And then she lets us get caught up in the beauty of a terrible dream, a terrible story, only to yank the rug out from under us — it was all a story.

It is a play worth reading for its themes and for its specificity of location. But in the end I found it more wooden than her other works.