Saturday, May 28, 2005

Stein

I went through an extended Gertrude Stein period in my thirties when I read all the extant biographies and a substantial percent of her literary works. Lucy Church is especially notable. Exactly how does one write such a large book without even one sensible sentence?

I even went so far as to sneak into the back yard of 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris. The gate to the street was unlocked, so I just opened it and walked through to the back. There were no women in long dresses, but otherwise it was the same.

I have written magnet poems by pulling random words from a box, but this turns out to be nothing like the writing of Gertrude Stein who is doing it all on purpose, making words do something else.

So it was actually a thrill for me when I was cast to play her in Vivian Fine's The Women in the Garden. All of Stein's lines in that opera were from her book Everybody's Autobiography. I was the only one with a true aria, "Does he or she, does she or he know what the human mind is?"

The opera has no plot, only four female writers singing exerpts from their writings, and is very hard to stage. Why not write an opera using one of Stein's plays, of which she wrote several, including a version of Faust called Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights.

2 comments:

Christopher said...

Dr. Faustus is really tough. It's extremely silly at times and has a party for a talking dog. I could never how you were supposed to get the dog to work.

Dr.B said...

In an opera the dog is just another part. Remember "You're a good man Charlie Brown."