by Maria Irine Fornes. I read a book on modern American theater earlier, with an emphasis on the legacy of Gertrude Stein, and it reminded me that I never had read anything by Fornes. Unfortunately, this was the only play of hers that I could find in the Berkeley Doe library. I say unfortunately because after reading it I want to read more of her plays.
The play is about a woman (Marion) married at age 15 to a man much older than her (Juster). He has a son (Michael) nearly her age and there is a scene where they are playing and she remarks that she must act like she is his mother. The scenes are sparse — sometimes it seems that they are about nothing (like in Pinter), but other times they really twist the knife. The writing seems forced at times, but that heightens the temporal distance (turn of the century New York), and is also because English is Fornes’ second language.
Things to note about this play are the silent scenes, and the carefully written in actions, which help elucidate what the scene is about. Fornes works her plays in rehearsals to get them sculpted just the right way. But even without that luxury, spending some time thinking of what is important in the realization of the scene can help clarify what is going about and frees the actors from the tyranny of belabored text. Example: she lifts the hood and covers her face substitutes from some explanation in a later scene that she is having an affair.
I am going to try and find Fefu and Her Friends and Mud, but there will always be plays to read…