52 Plays in 52 Weeks: Week 12

The Ham Funeral and The Season at Sarsaparilla by Patrick White

OK, so technically I should be well past Week 12. But hey, sometimes we all fall off the bandwagon and the best thing to do is hop back on right? To make amends for my abysmal efforts at the end of last term I actually read a double bill this week. It actually took me two weeks. Not through procastination or anything but because, well, it was really tedious reading.

The Ham Funeral is on the HSC Individual Projects list. In terms of creating a project set and costume would be fantastic because the characters as written are interesting. Mrs Lusty with her rough English accent, the dirtiness and bleakness of the boarding house could all make for some interesting creative and directorial choices. In terms of set design, the split level of the house with its basement and rooms upstairs would be challening for a student to create in prototype.

Most of the time I had little idea what was going on. What I mean by that is, I didn’t really understand what White was actually getting at. I had to go and research it afterwards. My inital reactions left me feeling pretty confused. Maybe I’m thick but only the theme of death was obvious to me. Mrs Lusty’s relationship with the Young Man was strange and I did make some connections but I finished the play wondering if what I thought of it was actually right. Not that there is a right or wrong in theatre but I guess I’d like to think I could see some kind of throughline or what the playwright actually intended.

The Season at Sarsaparilla was a bit the same – but longer. I chose to read it because one of the earliest memories of coming to my school was hearing some of my student’s talk about this play they had seen with their previous teacher and it was the first time they had seen a man nude! Ah, don’t you love the theatre? I had to laugh but I also thought that’s a pretty big thing for young adults to be seeing so when I found this book of Patrick White plays I thought I’d give it a look to see if that actually happened. You know, director’s interpretation and all that. Clearly it was a director’s interpretation because there were no specifics of nude men anywhere.

I can’t say I love Patrick White after reading these. Rather hardgoing and a little depressing to be honest. I think I’ll try to find something a little more upbeat this week.

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