I have been the world’s worst blogger lately. The summer schedule is just so busy and I haven’t had time to think. So, Summer 1 ended last week… yay! Not that I didn’t like reading all the Pulitzer Prize plays and enjoy everyone in my class, but it’s nice to be that much closer to finishing my MFA. We had the second paper due last Wednesday, which was also the last day of class. I can’t believe I used to churn out ten-page papers on a much more regular basis. As much as dealing with the writer’s block and endless frustration was killing me during my playwriting workshops, I would much rather write a play than an academic paper. Which I guess makes sense, since I went the creative writing MFA rather than the English PhD route. Anyway, we spent the last class discussing Sam Shepherd’s Buried Child, which I’d read at Holy Cross for a Steve Vineberg class (it must’ve been American Drama) years ago. I’d forgotten how crazy that play is and how much I love it for that.
Last weekend, following the end of Summer 1, which was also the final class of the degree for a few of my lucky classmates, my classmate Deirdre invited all of us up to her summer house on a lake in New Hampshire. My classmate Terry couldn’t make it because she was making preparations to fly to Rome for her Global Fellowship (sooo awesome!), and my classmates Emily and John were busy, but Anna, Walt, Genevieve, and I headed up to the lake along with Anna and Walt’s significant others and Anna’s adorable little dog Bandit. Add us to Deirdre, her husband, their two daughters, and a big bunny, and it was a decent crowd. It was such a fun weekend, especially after the difficult week I’d just had. We swam in the lake, jumped off their rope swing, hung out in their outdoor jacuzzi, and canoed and kayaked all around the lake. Saturday night was great: we ate lobster, had chocolate cake and wine at sunset on their boat, and roasted marshmallows (and had some more wine) around a fire after that. Throw in some board games and some jumping on the trampoline with the kids, and it all adds up to one of the best weekends ever. I’ll have to upload a couple pictures once I get them off my camera.
And now I’m back in the real world, and Summer 2 has started up. There’s no little break in between summer sessions. My class this session is A Linguistic Approach to Literature, and I was honestly a little scared about what to expect. I didn’t know if on day 1 the professor would be like, “OK, here’s the phonetic alphabet, memorize it for tomorrow.” But so far, after three days, it’s been fun and I’m actually really interested in the material. Instead of phonetics (which I think is really interesting and something I’d love to learn about, just not crammed into a six-week summer course), it’s more about analyzing the grammar and word choice of different pieces of literature to see how it helps the author achieve his/her goal in the piece. Because I’m a copyeditor (and former HC Writer’s Workshop tutor of three years), I’m a total grammar nerd, so going in and obsessively analyzing word choice is second nature to me. Plus, even though it’s my first class not to directly involve theater in some way, I think it’s actually going to be applicable to my writing. On the first day, we analyzed an actual transcribed recorded conversation, and in our second class, we reviewed a brief excerpt from Harold Pinter’s play The Caretaker. Pinter’s style is very particular and would probably look really odd to someone who’s never read/seen his plays before. He’s famous for brief, clipped dialogue that’s full of theatrical pauses and silences. We talked about how dialogue for the theater, even though it’s meant to emulate real conversation, is instead a representation of real conversation. Someone like Pinter has dialogue that is a lot more stylized than a purely naturalistic writer, but everyone’s dialogue is a stylization of real speech to some degree. It’s so interesting to me to see what theatrical dialogue has in common with real-life speech and how it differs, and how different playwrights can craft their dialogue to get their themes across and tell the story they’re seeking to tell. Today or tomorrow we’ll be looking at a passage from Samuel Beckett’s play Endgame, which I was first introduced to in Ed Isser’s Modern Drama class at Holy Cross and is one of my favorite plays ever, so I’m looking forward to discussing it. As I said, I’m a total grammar nerd.