The Artists of Dionysus

Did you know that the first international guild/trade union in the western world was a theatrical one? The Artists of Dionysus operated to ensure that traveling actors were granted “freedom of travel, freedom from taxation, and freedom from arrest, should the local authorities seek security for the debt of a fellow countryman of the actor.”1 Also, during the 2nd century B.C., there was a guild of pantomimes and mimes called the Parasites. Labor history in the ancient world!

However, the coolest fact is that the final title of the organization at its end—circa 274/5—was best title of a guild/union ever:

The Sacred Musical Traveling Aurelian World Great Guild of the Artisans of Dionysus, Sacred Crowned Victors, and their Fellow Competitors.2

  1. Eric Csapo & William J. Slater, The Context of Ancient Drama, (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995), 240. []
  2. Ibid., 242 []

Play 11 – Le Café Arbre

The dialogue is in French. You will most likely figure out why. I used Google Translate, so if some of the phraseology is wrong, please let me know so I can fix it in the script. If you don’t read French, just copy and paste the sections (really it’s only the last couple of lines that will be hard to figure out) into Google Translate and you’ll be all set.

11_Le Café Arbre.pdf

Play 7 – Drinking with Caliban

Yes, I’m running at a three day deficit in this project and maybe I’ll catch up and maybe I won’t. To stress out or get anxious about meeting an artificial challenge like this would be to allow a challenge to become a burden. Will I try to catch up? Sure, but if I don’t it will be just fine.

This is the first script I’ve written for the 31 Days project without knowing what I was going to write as I opened up my script program to a blank document. I literally was staring at the blank screen without a clue as to what would emerge. Then the rocky shore came to mind and the thought: what if Miranda went back one day? To the island? This is also the first play in this series that I feel could bear significantly more expansion that what is here, though I think it is self-contained and gets to a kernel of what I wanted to explore. Perhaps. Who knows.

Drinking with Caliban.pdf

Play 6 – Li’s Step

I’m behind. Oh well.

I had planned to write a Mars play before the prompt the other day, and this is not exactly what I planned to write, so there very well may be more Mars play’s later in this series. This one is less about Mars and more about what it might mean to witness, or not witness such an event. For one man.

As always, interested in your thoughts.

06_Li’s Step.pdf

Plays the Forth and Fifth

Two scripts to post today since I fell behind this weekend and didn’t write. The first is a second Puff and Blink play. For those curious, I can see these as puppet plays or with actors in costumes/masks. Or a mix. I don’t know what I think of these, but I can guarantee that there will be more in the series as I go along this month.

Puff and Blink and the Treasure Map.pdf

The second is “meta” and is about a writer working on the 31 Plays in 31 Days project. I don’t, as a rule, like meta writing. But . . . well, it happened and so here it is.

Even My Friends Won’t Read This.pdf

PS – This is my 999th post on LtL. I feel like I should do something special for 1000 but have no idea what that ought to be. Any ideas, feel free to let me know.

Play 3 – 10 Ways to Alienate a Theatre Audience

Sometimes it is a very thin line between profound and immature. The whole, “let’s alienate the audience just to alienate the audience” bit is kind of boring. Still, it has its purpose and this play—while short, slight, and very inconsequential—is hopefully an interesting schematic for challenging the actors and audience. I’m really curious to hear what people might think about this one. Would you enjoy it? Or, if not enjoy it, do you think it would hold your interest or would you get turned off completely?

 03_10 Ways to Alienate a Theatre Audience.pdf

A Problem of Translation

Is there a voice for the junkies and the homeless and the lost in contemporary literature? In theatre? And not a patronizing middle-class “oh look at the poor folk” voice, but one that takes the time to live in that world, to respect the lives of those in the streets and trenches that make up our war on drugs and who live the poverty that makes wealth possible?

Is our contemporary theatre anemic, in part, because we write and produce only for a middle- to upper-class demographic? Would they be interested in seeing something that is not a reflection of their world or a perspective on other worlds (ethnic, economic) that serves to ease their conscious and make them feel like they are part of a solution through voyeurism?

I don’t think so.

I sit here in a bus station, listening to fragments of lives that are full of pain and anger and fear and resignation and a strange strength that is both alien and frightening to my middle-class, highly educated, white and male privileged life, and I wonder who writes for these people? Is it even possible to tell their stories without exploiting them, without stealing them?

Our culture fantasizes, in books and movies and comics and tv, about various post-apocalyptic scenarios. All the while ignoring that many people are already living in a world that is constantly hostile and where each day is a battle to merely survive and who understand that the smallest joys can be the biggest of victories, but that victory is a perishable commodity and there are no guarantees it will come ’round again.

I sit. I do not listen to my music through noise-isolating earphones. Instead I listen to the people around me. I wonder. I have no answers, no solutions, only questions. I have learned nothing. But I have heard, if only in snatches and only for an hour, the language of another world.

In the end, I also wonder just how much privilege and pretension is apparent in these wonderings and questions.