Wednesday, March 17, 2004

It has, sadly, been far too long since I have posted. Pesky job, interfering with stuff I enjoy—like reading. To quote Daniel Pennac “Time spent reading is always time stolen. Like time spent writing, or loving, for that matter” (Better than Life 146).

So. Today, perhaps, a couple of entries. Beginning with one that will convince you I’ve not been reading.

Slings & Arrows.

A six-part miniseries that was on TMN, and that ended last week. And that I hope they'll replay. The short synopsis: Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross) returns to the town of New Burbage, home of the New Burbage Theater Festival—a fictional version of the Stratford Festival--following the death of the Festival's artistic director. Tennant is named interim artistic director, despite the fact that he "went mad" during a production of Hamlet seven years earlier, leaping into Ophelia's grave and not returning. Scheming board members & staffers, frustrated folk (including Tennant's ex, now playing Gertrude), lousy actresses, and a movie star playing the big role combine to make this series six exciting hours of television well worth anyone's time.

So, why talk about this miniseries on a reading blog? Well, a couple of reasons. For one thing, I think that it is important to take film seriously, as something worthy of reflection, and as something worthy of careful discussion. For another, this series does two great things. Most importantly, Slings & Arrows shows a couple of ways of approaching a text, and of finding ways to enter into it, of making sense of it, of expressing what one thinks of it. The series also shows—perhaps better than any other thing I've ever seen—that theatre, that Shakespeare, that high art has the capacity to challenge and to transform anyone, from any sort of background. Doing both of these two things, it's not a didactic show; it's funny, well-written, full of good acting, and it's enjoyable.

Go read it, the next time it's on.