29 March 2006

Antigone: The First Proper Version in Jordan!

Well, to be honest, I have no idea whether or not it's ever been performed before in this country, but I'm quite happy about the version my friends and I are working on. Oh, in case you didn't gather, we're looking to put on a production of the play, based on three versions of the story by Sophocles, Bertolt Brecht, and Jean Anouilh. We're hoping to be up and running by July, but it's still all theory so far.

The really exciting thing about doing this play is that we're adapting it as we go along. The characters are fun to look at in three different versions, though Anouilh's is by far my favourite. I also happen to think it's the best written. Sophocles' (or is that Sophocles's? Does it count as a plural S?) version comes in a close second, with Brecht's trailing third. Don't get me wrong, Brecht is a marvellous writer, but his version is too skewed by his quest for his Verfremdungseffekt (alienation effect) and the fact that he had Hitler in mind when he wrote the character of Creon (or rather Kreon, as it's written in his version). The character comes out too much like a cartoon villian with no redeeming qualities, but then, that's just my reading of it.

I think Anouilh does a much better job of fleshing Creon out...perhaps too good a job, as his major scene with antigone goes on for about twenty pages. It gets tiresome, though it has some utter literary gems, especially when Creon goes into fate and the line of Oedipus. Good stuff indeed.

Well, looks like I'll keep a journal of what's going on...stay tuned for more.

10 March 2006

Prayer by the Foolish

The guilt of my words still echoes in my head,
Words badly chosen, a joke that should not have been made.
Material is not my craving, nor the be-all and end-all of my life.
But I do not know if you are either.
What I do know is that you mean more to me than any stupid words,
Uttered in a haze of thought, a state too silly to be believed.
I cannot bear bringing tears to your eyes,
It hurts me to the quick,
And I wonder about all the things I hold dear.
I have gone against nature, against everything I ever swore to uphold.
I have betrayed myself before, but never to do something so bad,
Never to do aught that has unleashed so much guilt.
In the shortest span of time, you have come to mean so much,
And were I a person of faith, I would be on my knees,
Begging whichever god I believed in to help you forgive me.
This is my prayer, my lamentation of life.
The guilt that I hold deep within my heart,
And the thanks I give that you are willing to move on.
Doubt the motion of the world, doubt the fire of the stars,
But let nothing shake your conviction in my constancy to you.

08 March 2006

On the nature of relationships with your co-workers.

It strikes me as very odd, the way I interact with people I work with. I'm lucky enough to work a variety of jobs, many on a freelance basis, but it's obvious that every place has its own set of interactions within the microcosm that is the institution.

Actors are great to work with, when they're not the "I'm so great you should get on the floor and worship me" type. They are generous people to be around, and are generally well-read and aware of the world around them.

Techies, i.e. those with technical expertise who make the world go round, are also amazing people, so long as you don't treat them as subordinates or look down on them because they do the menial but necessary tasks.

Custodial staff are by far the best of the lot. Though they can often be world-weary and constantly depressed, they are some of the nicest human beings you can ever hope to meet. Oh, and in case you're wondering why they grumble so much? it's becase others are such arseholes to them! From personal experience, if you're nice to people, they will be nice to you. Custodial staff are not slaves. They are not meant to be going around fetching you tea and cigarettes. I've got a pair of legs, dammit! I can go across the road for some food.

And why should they handle all the lifting on their own? I'm a big lad, stronger than average, and I can help out, so I do. Yet others just stand there and laugh when I squat to lift a heavy box. And why? Because I'm performing a menial task? Can the Happy McLaughy do that? NO!

Honestly... give me custodial staf over most other people every day. True, they often aren't that great for conversations about Sartre and physics, but they have a wealth of knowledge, life, and anecdotes that you'll never hear elsewhere. And as a general rule, they aren't stuck up wankers who look down on others, simply because there's no one for them to look down upon. Being branded as the lowest in institutional hierarchy makes them incredibly nice people, and perhaps in spite of the lack of regard others give them, they make the finest examples of humanity in most places. Here's to you, folks!

Another matter that's been on my mind since morning is the fact that many people I work with are just lazy cunts. I get in to the theatre every morning, start readying the set, setting props, checking them, and doing the morning routine of getting shit ready for the plays. For all intents and purposes, I am the stage manager. But why is it my responsibility? Because nobody else will do it. My immediate superior is really useless, in every sense of the word. I do part-time hours, half a day, and I get more done in two hours than he tends to do in a week. He doesn't even WANT to do anything. And that's the problem with the "old guard" at this place: they don't want to make an effort.

We had a malfunctioning prop, so I took it in to the tech department to get it fixed. Lo and behold, there he was, having breakfast with the Old Guard, and gladly told me that he'd already explained the nature of the problem to the guy who would fix it.

Very helpful. Thanks mate. Don't suppose you could've bothered taking the damn thing in to be fixed in the first place because you're the one complaining about it in the first place, you tosser?

But I'm not bitter. On the contrary. It's nice to know that I can say I earn my keep here. True, I don't do that much work, but that's because there isn't often any work to be done. Still, I go around other departments asking if I can help with anything. Hell...I've brought in a crap load of work for the centre and helped raise its profile, and I've been here less than six months. He's been here a good eight years, and he complains about how difficult it is to adapt a childrens' story into a play. Boo-frickity-hoo! It's the only work I've seen him do since I got here!

Ok, rant over, I rock, sod the rest. My conscience is clean.

01 March 2006

Everyone's a critic!

Now, being a very left-wing, liberal sort of person, I am wholeheartedly in favour of the concept of people expressing their views. However, what I personally dislike is the fact that people express their views about things they have no business having views about in the first place. For example, I really know sod all about architecture. I have aesthetic judgements regarding what I think is an attractive building and what is not, but I really can't find faults in the positioning of a pillar to support a multi-storey building. So I don't usually, when I speak to architects, critique their schematics or their projects. What the hell do I know?

So why do people feel like they are obligated by some higher moral purpose to spout absolute bollocks about shit they really know nothing about? Why is there this overwhelming need in Jordanian society to incessantly give your unappreciated and unasked for opinions to people who really don't need mindless babble to make their work day any harder? Why do we do this?

Criticism, in certain destructive cases, I'm told, is a by-product of feeling inferior. The person doing the criticizing does it in an effort to prove their worth to the other part of the equation. Though I'm not sure how true this is for other people, it seems to me the majority of people who have qualms about my work don't really know jack shit about what it is I do. So, the next time you hear some idiot giving someone grief about something they know nothing about, please, take a moment to ask yourself if what I've said holds true.