Friday, April 24, 2009
Struggle with Ancient Athens
I have been having an epically tough week. I say this not to garner sympathy for myself but rather to explain the background of my struggle, to set the scene as it were. Of late I have had a series of final projects, essays, general graded opportunities from which I have had to emerge day after day to face the next one. I have not seen my friends in quite a while and though I vaguely remember their faces it would no be utterly impossible for me to miss such people on the street. I might be walking, or rather, trotting like a sweaty eager young pony down the streets of not-New Haven, and a friend, say, my fantastic friend Jenny, might call my name. Confused, disoriented, I pull myself out of my swirling mind consumed with thoughts of Spanish oral exams and Ibsen's later, more outrageous works and scan the street. Like some kind of super computer I search out every cranny of the road in front of me and, observing nothing familiar, continue on, where I walk squarely into my friend who has been standing in front of me the whole time. As my life becomes more and more chaotic, I can't help but compare my own existence with the structure of Greek drama. As utterly intellectual as this sounds, there is method to my madness. You see, one of the more delightful aspects of this week's struggle has been my participation in a production of Hippolytus, the tragedy by Euripides. I play Aphrodite, who has quite the bee in her bonnet about young Hippolytus and exacts her revenge quickly and efficiently, with just the right amount of choral odes. As I sat backstage and touched up my lipstick during tonight's performance, I could see quite clearly the way that my struggle and the struggle of Greek drama are intrinsically connected.
Let's break it down for those less geeky then I, shall we? Important components of Greek Tragedy, as defined by Aristotle, as made slang by me:
1. Unities of Time, Space and Action: Time, this week, Space, not-Yale, Action: Struggle on through it.
2. Incentive moment, or Beginning: Waking up on Monday morning with the soul crushing realizing that this week was going to be one struggle on top of another, what with the exams and projects and general inability to dress self with any kind of nod to style/attractiveness. Taking things one step at a time tried to pick out an outfit with components of cleanliness and cuteness intact. Then stared at list of things to do this week and fought the urge to scream and wake up lovely roommates.
3. Hamartia: tragic flaw or error in judgement that causes the downfall of the protagonist. In this case the Hamartia would be my assumption that sleep is for losers and fascists and that I could do without it.
4. Stichomythia: dialogue of single alternating lines spoken in quick succession. I would quote my conversations of the week but they consist mostly of sighs, silent screams, and the repression of hysterical laughter.
5. Climax and catastrophe: the pivotal or turning point of a play, followed immediately by it's severe and sudden consequences. Here in the struggleverse, that would have been sometime Wednesday night between one of my three rehearsals as I desperately tried to finish my Spanish reading and maintain consciousness in the face of the sweet sweet lure of sleep. Any guesses for the winner?
6. Resolution and catharis: The end of the play, punishment for the guilty, a general feeling of spiritual cleansing for all...Yeah, I'm still waiting on that one.
Now, luckily for me this is the point where my life and Greek Drama part ways, because otherwise I might find myself marrying my brother and eating my cousin for lunch or something alone those lines. And frankly, with my schedule, who has that kind of time?
Above is me with my friend and fellow dramatist, wine. If you get the chance I heartily recommend that you get to know each other. It's always worked for me.