Saturday, November 15, 2008

Verse drama today

With the related aesthetic matter of pre-modernist Classical Music Revival.

"just as iambic pentameter sounds fine in Shakespeare, but not necessarily in contemporary dialogue." (C. B., all other quotes from C. L.)

why not? the thing is whether you stylize speech into verse at all - and it was done by t s eliot in "murder in the cathedral" (which is not about contemporary events, but about the martyrdom of st thomas becket, i know)

"If you were writing a verse play about Queen Elizabeth II you might get away with iambic pentameter rather well, but it wouldn't work for a play about anyone less upper class and stilted."

1 Many Shakespear characters were after all royalty.

2 Iambic pentameter does not need sound all that formal, at least not if you use the liberties of - say Prometheus unbound, whatever its author's name was (which I keep forgetting) which is not the tradition of Chaucer and Shakespear, but at least does no harm to Petrarca's or Bocaccio's metre (which was the original)

3 Some characters could do really well to scan iambic pentameter, rather than declaim it: I mean the ones who in real life would express themselves in rap

4 Another way of making iambic pentameter less stilted is of course to use lines shorter than the verse:"Who spoke" "Like you mean ..." "Here and now" "Oh, beats me!"

5 geeks can use stilted sounding iambic pentameter, because they are geeks

Actually, Atterbom, a Swedish poet, about 150 years ago*, wrote a play in which everyone "sounds stilted" - though iambic pentameter scanned does not have really sound stilted to me, from the king, returning after three centuries of absence on the isle of bliss, to the lowest dregs of a feminist-pacifist parody of the revolutions, except one bureaucrat, who considers it stilted, "unnatural", to use his words: in context he is the one who sounds stilted (at least what i heard in my head while reading it) by speaking prose, when everyone else is nearly singing in iambic pentameters. Being a fan of Atterbom, I admit, might make me biassed on the issue.

*at the time, prose dramas were already written, i believe


"Verse plays do still get written even now, but they don't get much love from the general public because the form IS dated."

I think the real reason the general public does not love verse plays is that theatrical directors think it is a dated form and hence refuse to perform them. (As with my baroque / galante / viennese classical music on* )

"said the poet, whose poetry has won prizes, yet still she can't get it published!"

"I also write music that is representative of an earlier time- it hovers somewhere between Britten, the Romantics and Sondheim. The performers invariably love it, but again I can't find a publisher. Same problem."

Well, is that the public or the publishers? Guess why I publish myself on internet rather than trust those.

"Mind you, I think poetry has strayed so far from being an accessible expression of common feelings that it's not a wonder it doesn't sell."

That is mostly true for free verse, not for metrical poetry. Actually song lyrics are pretty much - metrical poetry.

"And hey, 5 geeks can sound stilted using everyday language in conversation!"

Yup, you are right about geeks. That is precisely why making them sound stilted by adding verse does them no injustice.

Do you like sonnets, then? Have a look at "I curuniri vogliono mutare". Or possibly (though the metre is not iambic pentametre) "Luddite's lament". The only obscure word in the former is in the title, and it is certainly not obscure to Tolkien lovers.

If clicking on my sight you look at the left bar menue, it is lowest. Luddite's lament is on a special message board, all prepared for debates on techno-criticism.

"For poetry to be published in book form you need to have a track record with the smaller publications- journals and so on. The journals are run by academic snobs who want cutting edge (not metrical) poetry, which distances the work from the potential audience- because what gets published in these smaller magazines is increasingly obscure in an attempt to be 'new' and win academic approval. "


Which is why I try to get past the academic snobs, through internet.

*New link: musicalia : General Index