Letters to Holly

Thursday, December 14

Day Seven: Reading Act Three

The scripted tension of Act Two flows into a chaotic family explosion in Act Three and blossoms into hilarity. It doesn't help that the cast has the giggles so everything is funny. This is Gooper's chance to be whatever we're going to make him -- dick, henpecked wimp, spoiled brat, whiny pouter -- I need help deciding how to navigate his shifts in mood. He seems to be scared of Big Daddy, but that may be dismissive petulance. He pounces on Brick and Maggie whenever he can, and they can't do much to fight off his righteousness. He's also trying to convince Mama to sign paperwork giving him control of the estate at the same moment she's despairing over Big Daddy's cancer. Very little happens in the first two acts, everything happens in the third, and Gooper's right there in the middle of it. But I don't know how to make his swings logical.

It helps that Mae is written so obviously catty toward Maggie and Brick and that the actress is digging into the role. I'll have to match her energy to make Gooper interesting, and that will determine how I play him. He can be sullen on a few lines, but he barks at her to shut up as he tries to control the room. And it doesn't help that Mama calls out for her Brick, whom she calls "her only son." This is going to hurt Gooper and make it hard for him to work his plan. Gooper has his plan, and everyone seems to be working against it. What we have here is a hapless schemer. Fate hates Gooper too.

It's a quick act, and we spend about a half hour later going over some details. Why does Big Daddy come back into the room in such high spirits? Why does he tell the vulgar joke about the elephant? Is it to goad Brick into action with Maggie? Is he callous toward Mama here or playful? This is the third act Williams wrote for the 1974 revival of his play, and it's different from the first version he wrote and the Broadway version Kazan demanded. Originally, Daddy was supposed to stay offstage and start to die. Now, he reappears in a totally different demeanor but retains some malice and froth for Gooper and Mae, the obvious villains of the piece.

Williams also restored the fantastic last line from his first version which Kazan foolishly tossed. Maggie makes Brick a bargain: If he sleeps with her to make a child, she'll give him the liquor he needs (and he puts down about a whole bottle in the two hours beforehand). She confesses that she can be the stronger of the two and mold him into the patriarch of the family. She says finally "I love you," and Brick, drunken and dry-witted, says "wouldn't it be funny if it were true?" That line makes the play, and it killed me to see Kazan ejected it in favor of a another angry rant from Maggie.

It's an early night for us, and I go home to attend to Your Sick Sis and wrap Christmas gifts. Nothing saddens me quite like a lit tree with nothing underneath it. It makes me break out into Blanche DuBois accents and lament the sad cruelty of all things. Oh, I declayah.

Previous entries:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six

Her Teams
New England (9-4), NY Jets (7-6), Oakland (2-11)
Philly (7-6), Detroit (2-11)

My Teams
Miami (6-7), Pittsburgh (6-7)
Philly (7-6), Carolina (6-7)

I was too depessed to post this earlier. Carolina has fallen into utter crap as the QB lost his magic and the vaunted defense can't contain anyone. Your Sis is almost nauseous that she skipped over the Bears to pick the Lions.

Picture of the Day
This is Bad Wrong. I loved the cartoon way back in my toddler days, and I can't watch a real dog -- even a beagle -- FXed all to hell. Why not make a 3D animated movie of the cartoon?

In The News
Even in recess, Congress is a big fat drama queen. Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota had what appeared to be a stroke in the middle of a phone interview. He's now hospitalized in critical condition. His failing health and possible replacement by a Republican via the South Dakota governor would cancel the Democrat majority in the Senate and give the GOP an edge through Dick Cheney's vote in a tie.

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National Institutes of Health officials said circumcision can cut the risk of men to contract HIV from heterosexual sex by 50%. This is based on trials from Kenya and Uganda.

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