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Posts Tagged ‘history of drama

Double vision…



Great minds thinking alike?  The power of the zeitgeist?  The herd instinct at work?…  Browse through Twin Movies (uncomfortably-similar films released in the same year) to decide for yourself.



Many, many more.


As we head for the art house, we might recall that it was on this date in 1906 that a perky Norwegian nurse greeted her charge with “Our patient is feeling much better today.”  Playwright Henrik Ibsen ( BrandPeer GyntAn Enemy of the PeopleA Doll’s HouseHedda GablerGhostsThe Wild Duck, and The Master Builder, among others) replied “On the contrary!” and passed away.



Written by LW

May 23, 2013 at 1:01 am

A trick of perspective…


William Hogarth (1697-1764) was a British  painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist sometimes credited with beginning the tradition of sequential art in Western culture (by virtue of his series of paintings depicting the rise and fall of a dandy, A Rake’s Progress).

Two centuries before M.C. Escher and his play on perspective, Hogarth created Satire on False Perspective. Subtitled, “Whoever makes a DESIGN without the Knowledge of PERSPECTIVE will be liable to such Absurdities as are shown in this Frontifpiece,”  there are in fact quite a few absurdities buried within it.  Click here for a larger version of Satire, and see how many you can spot…

Hogarth provided no key, but Wikipedia has accumulated a list of (so far) 22.  To get you started:  notice that the tavern sign is overlapped by two distant trees.

[TotH to Scientific Americanfrom whence the image above]


As we train our eyes on the vanishing point, we might spare a thought for Aphra Behn; she died on this date in 1689.  A monarchist and a Tory, young Aphra was recruited to spy for King Charles II; she infiltrated Dutch and expatriate English cabals in Antwerp during the Second Anglo-Dutch War.  But on her return to London, George II turned out to be a stiff; despite her entreaties, the King never paid her for her services. Penniless, Aphra turned to writing, working first as a scribe for the King’s Company (the leading acting company of the time), then as a dramatist in her own right (often using her spy code-name, Astrea, as a pen name).  She became one of the most prolific playwrights of the Restoration, one of the first people in England to earn a living writing– and the first woman to pay her way with her pen.  She was buried in Westminster Abbey, where the inscription on her tombstone reads, “Here lies a Proof that Wit can never be / Defence enough against Mortality.




Written by LW

April 16, 2013 at 1:01 am



Your correspondent is heading for the meeting place of East and West, where connectivity is uncertain, so this will be the last post for a few days.  Regular service should resume on or around October 8.  On the theme of travel, a re-visit to an old friend of (R)D, the estimable James Lileks

Imagine the pitch to the investors:

“It’s going to be a futuristic, state-of-the-art motel with every modern convenience from water beds to 8-tracks. The entire dining area will be covered in deep-pile pink and purple carpet. But wait – here’s the best part. It will look like an abstract sculpture of a giant turkey. We’ll bill it as a romantic getaway – and call it The Gobbler!”

Whether every excruciating detail of this complex was planned out in advance, or whether it just happened, , I don’t know. I don’t know much about this place beyond the pictures you have here. This is a brochure taken from the Hartwig Gobbler, a motel-bar-restaurant off I-94 in Wisconsin. The brochure dates from construction, which must have been in the late 60s. But I got the brochure on a trip in March of 1984, and the restaurant was as ghastly then as it is in the pictures…

 Prepare to be astounded, then flip through the brochure


As we hit the highway, we might send dramatic birthday greetings to Euripides; he was born on this date in 480 BCE (or so we might conclude:  while there is no documentary evidence supporting this date, we know that he was born on the same day that the Battle of Salamis was fought, and that is believed to have been this date).  The youngest of ancient Greece’s three great tragedians (with Aeschylus and Sophocles), Euripides wrote over 90 plays, of which 19 survive (or 18 if doubts about his authorship of Rhesus are accepted).  Euripides contributed many innovations to drama, perhaps main among them his representation traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances– creating a narrative approach that is still going strong in Spiderman, The Dark Knight, and biopics galore.

Successful in his time, Euripides had his critics; like Socrates, with whom he was associated, he was lampooned by Aristophanes and others as a decadent intellectual.  But unlike Socrates, who famously stood trial, Euripides is said to have “retired”–voluntarily exiled himself– to Macedonia, where he lived in the court of King Archelaus.


Written by LW

September 28, 2012 at 1:01 am

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