Friday, August 07, 2009

Kevin O'Brien on Chesterton and Drama

Kevin began by talking about working with Joseph Pearce on the Shakespeare production at EWTN, and the young actors who wanted to interpret Shakespeare in the modern way.

He connects Manalive and Innocent Smith's actions as dramatic action. Innocent Smith was a ritualist. He acted out with his body what he felt in his life.

O'Brien brought up Shaw then, and defended him as a friend of Gilbert's, as an excellent playwright. Shaw demanded that Gilbert write plays, with threats and letters demanded that Gilbert write plays. Shaw even wrote to Frances and begged her to convince Gilbert to write plays. Shaw's letters to Gilbert and Frances were quite humorous and persuasive.

Chesterton then wrote Magic. It was a hit, was brought to Broadway. I did not know that Magic was based on a short story Chesterton wrote that is now lost. O'Brien was sure that Geir Hasnes would some day find that story.

Chesterton reviewed his own play, saying the short story was better than the play. Shaw loved it and saw it many times.

A great example of creative irony was the TV show Columbo, which the creators tell us was based in part on Father Brown. At the beginning of the story we see the murder, Columbo figures it out earlier on, and our pleasure comes when we see judgment is brought upon the perpetrator.

Drama springs from ritual. In the English drama, it springs from liturgy. The theater is a festival, joyful, sensational, theatrical. Drama has its limitations, things have a frame. We see a play through a window.

ILN April 25, 1908 In an essay about the suffragettes and the war between the sexes, Chesterton talks about a woman going on a bicycle tour of England. She was exhausted, and sees a cottage. One of the blinds is askew, and she bursts into tears. She wasn't putting that on, but Chesterton goes on to describe people who do put on affectations. It was artificial. The women really felt it, the men, these aesthetes, decadents, thought it would be fun to feel the way women feel when they cry at the blinds that are askew. Actors and actresses like to pretend. They are drama queens. Even in their normal lives. It is playacting, and it has no root, unlike the woman who cried at the blind.

Chesterton applied the same to the feminists of the day. They love to playact at being like a man. Chesterton said that if the suffragettes would, rather than fighting the policemen, would nag for their rights, they would get it.

Drama is akin to ritual. Dramatic action is framed. Drama is festive and fun. Any ritual or festival or play that has not at its root the woman at the blind, or the man with the ribbon in his hair thinks ridiculous, the play must be true and show forth the truth.

The punishment in a drama must be the consequence of the evil act. MacBeth, Chesterton thought, is the perfect tragedy.

O'Brien feels that perhaps Chesterton's best play is the Judgment of Dr. Johnson. He proceeded to analyse this play in light of Chesterton's own descriptions of what makes a good drama.

O'Brien would very much like to have The Judgment of Dr. Johnson either put on as a play, or made into a movie. If you'd like to donate to this cause, please do so.

O'Brien then recited a poem for the restoration of the dramatic arts to long and hearty applause. An excellent speech.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Join our FaceBook fan page today!