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November 1994, Week 2


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"Shari L. Rosenblum" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 8 Nov 1994 12:15:20 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Jack Stanley, in his note forwarded from the screenwriters' list, compares
"play" to "screenplay" by declaring that the former relies on the director,
while the latter relies on the text.  To illustrate this point, he suggests
Moliere -- whose plays he calls "dull" -- because he says that a reader
can get no sense of the comedy that a well-staged production will bring
out of one of Moliere's works.
I find the logic of this hard to follow.  If a director can see the comedy
of the text -- as directors of Moliere's works have done successfully for
330 years or so -- the comedy must be *in* the text.  Moliere might have
argued alongside Dr. Stanley that comedy is strongest in performance --
he was, after all, an actor who died with his stage make-up still on --
but having struggled for his texts, for the names he gave his characters,
and for the punch of his dialogue, he cannot be discredited for what he gave
to literature (it was he, after all, who spoke of "grammar which knows how
to rule even kings.")  Moliere's comedies live on stage, but his texts have
lived in history.  "Tartuffe," for example, was banned by Louis XIV, edited
by the playwrights of the French Revolution, and lauded by Napoleon (reading
it aloud in St. Helena). "Vile Tartuffe," was the epithet thrown at the
hiding Robespierre as the cart carrying the Dantonists to the guillotine
passed by his home.  And yet we watch the play on stage and it makes us
Theater departments may articulate a superior claim to Moliere, just as
film departments may voice their own priorities in teaching Mamet.  But
to take Moliere out of the literature classroom is to deny half his essence --
just as denying Mamet entry there would be to deny half of his.
                                       Shari ([log in to unmask])