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Saturday, January 16, 2010

20 plays by Valentine's Day

That same tall mysterious blonde who provokes questions and comments was at Elaine's for my birthday celebration. She's worked with Sondheim, and with Ellen Stewart and she's a revolutionary artist in her own right. She's as elegant as ever. I haven't seen her in years. Her presence added a certain awareness of how cool things can be.

Spats was there with the present of a book of 20 plays titled "Chief Contemporary Dramatists" published in Cambridge, Mass in 1915. This evening I read the one by Lady Gregory titled "The Rising of the Moon". It's a short one act. In it a revolutionary and a police sergeant are face to face. The cop doesn't know he's talking to the fugitive he is stationed there to capture. By presenting the cop with a revolutionary look at things as they might have been, the fugitive convinces the cop to forgo promotion and a cash reward and let him escape.

Lady Gregory was part of the Irish nationalist cultural movement in Dublin literary circles. She was a founding member of the Abbey Theater. The play's an interesting bit of literary history. According to Wikipedia, Lady Gregory's motto was the Aristotelian:  "To think like a wise man, but to express oneself like the common people." I can see the author of this play appreciating that idea, if not quite achieving the ideal. It's hard to say for sure relying on the page exclusive of the stage.

Anyway, I'd only heard of Lady Gregory in passing reference to Yeats. Now I can say I've read one of her plays. It actually had me thinking about all the rewards (bribes) doled out in Afghanistan and how the bad guys are still on the loose. The reward is a big thing with this cop. He needs the dough but he let's it go. Anyway, I'm glad I read it. Talk about obscure -- reading Lady Gregory in the days of Lady Gaga. 

Here's my challenge to myself -- read all the plays in this book by Valentine's Day, and blog about them.

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