Thursday, December 27, 2007

And now for something a little different....

While it is true that I make most of my (limited) income as an actor, I also make an occasional penny now and then by writing. And while visiting my grandmother for Christmas, I saw the following article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, titled "Classics on a Diet." It discusses the recent "abridged" classic editions publishing by Phoenix Press. Go check it out, and then come back to Script in Hand.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/20071225_Essay.html

As a writer, performer, and English major, the whole idea behind these editions seems completely misguided. It reduces everything to the "narrative line," while eliminating everything that makes the books truly unique and special. A story about a whale hunt is just that, but Melville gives "Moby-Dick" (one of the books in this list) so much more than just a narrative line, and that is what makes it a truly epic masterpiece. In a very American urge to reduce books to the size that can be read during a commercial break, these editions are designed, I can only imagine, for people who want to say that they have read the book, but people who don't actually want to be bothered to actually read the entire book.

This does come around to my primary career, however, because I feel the same way about the cutting I just did of "Romeo and Juliet." The script was cut down very appropriately for school students, but it wasn't exactly the best cut for us actors to work on. Like Phoenix Press, it kept the entire flow of the plot and the "narrative line," but it took out a lot of the poetry, subtle nuance, and reflection that make Shakespeare's play so much more than just a teenage love story. I didn't feel that way when I did "Othello" or "Much Ado About Nothing." Either the poetry in those shows is more central to the plot, or perhaps the cuts were more sensitive to those issues. I'm excited to have a full script for my next show!

3 comments:

jeff p said...

Thanks for sharing that article. You hit the nail on the head by saying it's "a very American urge to reduce books to the size that can be read during a commercial break, these editions are designed, I can only imagine, for people who want to say that they have read the book, but people who don't actually want to be bothered to actually read the entire book." This world is geared towards instant gratification.

RMontesano said...

Which brings me to an invented medical condition.. ADHD!!!!

Since the 1950s when we put sugar in all our food and we started watching television we created a monster.

Sugar makes us (and our children) hyper and TV (the great American pastime) is presented in little bytes. Bytes measured in seconds at most. So now we are conditioned to be hyper and not pay attention to anything over a couple of seconds. Then we pay some "professional" to come up with a diagnosis and we pay some drug company to give us mind altering drugs.

And then they abridge our books.

They are bastards all of them.

My solution:

Eat a fresh salad and read a classic cover to cover! If you can find one.

Nick M said...

Excellent points, both of you. I also love how well the article is written, in which he knows how ridiculous the whole idea is.