Sunday, February 8, 2009

Miss Julie and sex

It seems often these days that in theatre great scripts are subverted by a director to be relevant or to be meaningful for today's masses. Afraid that great acting cannot hold an audience's attention, they seek titilation or sensationalism. They move the setting. They cross-gender parts. Miss Julie is a wonderful script for an actress to show off her ability. It doesn't need sex on stage. It needs great acting. Unfortunately actresses, these days are often compelled to leave their part on the playwright's page and to give life to some weaker vision and concept that ghettoizes women as sexualized creatures. I would think that women have it tough enough trying to make it in acting without being forced to compete with the ladies-of-the-night. It's not freedom to act that way, it's confinement, confinement as a stereotype. Miss Julie is a power struggle, between a man and a woman, between the classes, between rich and poor. But it is also about something else, incapable of touching each other in public, the man and the woman use words to seduce and destroy. They don't touch. Often directors chase each other's concepts instead of the truth of the word, afraid of not understanding the art, they choose to make it carnivale, and hence when Earnest Jones abused Shakespeare with Freud's oedipal complex in the scene between Hamlet and his mother, it was passed down from generation to generation as the truth, so we get Olivier and Gibson, distracted from the truth by psychobabble. As David Mamet would say, just do the damn script! Second rate minds can't leave anything alone.

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