The structure of the exercise (I invented for myself) is that I write in response to the lines, that I skip the stage directions and just use the dialogue. That structure was challenged by this particular chunk of text – these particular stage directions that come before this line. I toyed with changing my rules simply to accommodate them. They aren’t just simple stage directions. They are, in effect, a whole mini play. I’ve seen entire evenings of theatre that are less scripted, less of a show than this.
I’ve sometimes taught this chunk of stage directions as an introduction to the play. It is not insignificant – the passionate action, the protestation. . . this is not in the realm of “They fight” or “Exeunt.” There’s a lot here.
But in the end, I’m sticking with my structure. . . because artistic ritual and structure are what keep me going and if I go around breaking my own rules, I’m not sure what I will live by.
But to Ophelia – what is she responding to? This little dumb show is pretty clear. It’s not like they’re watching some avant guarde piece and the meaning is obscured somehow. Or maybe it is performed as an avant guarde dumbshow – maybe somehow the story, so clearly set down here, is obscured by the performance. I have seen that happen many times before.