Clark's Eye on Books

Clark I reviews books and sometimes writes them!

Gianni Truvianni’s Adventures In Plays

Painting by: Sworobowicz

In all honesty the idea of writing something in play form had never occurred to me, as I for the most concentrate not so much on dialogue which is what plays mostly contain (almost to the point of being exclusive) but on expressing ideas through a story. My stories the kind in which dialogue is limited to being what advances the plot and little else, this guided by my believe that the thoughts of the author is what should take priority in a book even over the action and I would go as far as to say specially over the dialogue which is exchanged between the characters.

It was however when I met Ewa Kasprzyk in the spring of 2008 that I was introduced to the idea of writing something in play form, as she for the most part is a Polish actress who now a days is limited to performing on the stage, in the sort of works known as “chamber theater” along with commercials advertising products for women past the mid century mark. As for Eva Kasprzyk, she is a relatively famous actress in her native Poland, this the case even if in all truth has very little if any fame that extends beyond her country of origin. This being such that when I first met her I had no idea who she was and despite of having lived in Poland for close to 17 years had never even heard her name. I naturally turned to ask those around me; like my friend, actor Christian Emmany (from Congo) along with my daughter and wife, who in fact confirmed to me that she was an actress; them telling me she had appeared in a few Polish films and soap operas.

It in fact was Ewa herself; who sought me out so I might translate Pedro Almodovar’s play “Patty Diphusa”; for her to perform on stage at Williams College in New Jersey. “Patty Diphusa” being a one person or more specifically woman show which she had already been performing for many years in the Polish theatre, fragments of which can even be seen on youtube. As for the play “Patty Diphusa”, it was taken from the book by the same title written by the proclaimed Spanish director himself, who has given us such cinema master pieces; the likes of “Habla Con Ella” (Talk To Her) and “Kika”. This being the case though in my opinion where Almodovar has talent for directing original films; his ability in the field of writing books is not so overwhelming, making this particular work what I would perceive as one of hackneyed jokes and sarcastic sense of humor which to my point of view does not really work as well as it does in his movies.

It was with the aim of translating fragments of this book that Ewa and I would go on to meet almost on a daily basis for the two weeks to follow our first encounter, though in those days that followed our first meeting I also introduced her to the books I had written, which already included “New York’s Opera Society”, “Love Your Sister” and “What Should Not Matter”. These being books which she did read and enjoy or at least thus did she claim.

Ewa and I however did talk about many things in the many hours we spent together apart from my books and her career. This taking place in the form of conversations which touched upon topics such as sex, religion and private matters; like her telling me about an extra marital affair she was having at the time with a man, who eventually would break up with her given he decided he also wanted children. I of course for my part did not exclude private details of my life, such as my romance with Rompryska (the young lady in my poems) along with other aspects of myself, which are also reveled in many of my articles.

Regarding the idea, of a play that I could write this came when I suggested she do a stage version of one of my books, which she told me were fine and had great stories but would be hard to perform on stage, since they had too many characters and settings while not containing enough dialogue. Ewa claiming that plays written in the format of “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf” were ideal since they only contained four parts, while practically all of the action takes place in one setting and without any breaks in time. This being the case with this particular story that all the action takes place in the course of one evening.

I for my part can not claim to be a fan of this book or play, me believing that it gets overly redundant after half an hour; since all we are forced to do is hear a married couple bitterly quarrelling through out the whole thing, this only to discover at the end of it all that they are in love and will remain together. All of which as if anybody really cared one way or the other by then, even if this theatre piece would eventually end up as most plays do, good or bad; getting turned in to a film with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

Eva for her part also told me she did not care very much for this piece but explained to me that it was often performed because it was one which most of the public for better or for worse were familiar with and productions of which were not expensive to put on given it was what could be described of as typical chamber theatre. At the time I did not get any ideas for writing a play of any kind as I was occupied with other projects though this did put the concept in my mind which I played with for sometime to follow.

The year 2008 as most years have and will eventually came to an end as did most of the projects I was working on at the time, which lead to me seeking out a new one. It was based on the idea of mistaken identity and other such follies often used in light comedies that I came up with the idea for the play which I would go on to write with the title of “My Son-In-Law”. This my first effort in play writing, being based on the story of a man who one evening after doing a considerable amount of elbow bending gets in to bed to make love to a woman, he at the time and in the dark believes to be his wife, only to discover the day after that she in fact was his mother-in-law. All of which creating for a series of dilemmas between not only this character by the name of Tom and his wife but mother-in-law, (whose character I based on Ewa) as she wishes to continue her romance with her daughter’s husband, not that he is opposed to it even once fully aware of whom he is really engaging in acts of carnality with.

Naturally, there are quarrels in “My Son-In-Law” and other such discussions of the sort, in this four character play with the fourth member of this group being Tom’s mother. I must say that it was fun writing something based entirely on dialogue, that for the most part did not require anything else from my part apart from the occasional instruction regarding in what direction I wanted the action to take or the characters to do on stage, as their thoughts were expressed in what they themselves said.

In writing this play I would say it was Ewa Kasprzyk who gave me the idea for the character I named after her; as she represents in large part the way I see Ewa and that being a middle age actress who in all truth never become a huge star in her own country let alone through out the world but still manages to get the part of the mother here and there in a soap opera or two. Ewa once even commenting to me in jest that she would love to play the role of a mother in a film who has no children.

As for the remaining three parts in my play “My Son-In-Law”, they are not based on anybody in particular and are creations of my imagination though some elements of their behavior are taken from people I have had contact with through out my life. This being in particular the case of “Maryann”, the simple and good natured woman who plays Ewa’s in-law, as parts of her were inspired by a charming older lady I had the pleasure of working with at John Hancock Corporation, whose name was also Maryann.

In describing my adventures in play writing I must also say that were my idea for doing so came from Ewa and the example she gave me of “Whose Afraid Of Virginia Wolf”, the actual model I took from were a few films and plays, specially those written by Tennessee Williams such as “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” and “Sweet Bird Of Youth”. It being these plays that basically have one thing in common and that being, how they do not really tell a whole story but the ending of one, in what could be considered the moment of culmination of a much longer story made more intense because it concentrates its point on what could be called the grand finale. This while a novel concentrates on the whole of the story as opposed to the play where it is only the final moments we are exposed to, this applying more so to “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof”, where before the play even begins it is already known that the character referred to as “Big Daddy” will die along with the problems Brick and Maggie are having in their married life. It leading the reader to this almost pre-established scenario, which will be resolved in one evening of stage fireworks, with not only intensity but drama as it is concentrated in to one evening of practical mayhem to determine the fates of all involved.

In conclusion I would like to say that it was in part due to Ewa Kasprzyk that I came upon the idea to write plays, which up till now I have completed two; with the second one entitled “The Final Journey”, which unlike the first one would be hard to qualify as “chamber theatre”. This being the case since there are more then four characters and one setting, yet it was written with the same concept of dialogue and focus on the final moments. This the case even if the first few chapters of this particular story are written in what I would call regular book form, with most of its characters being based loosely on people I have or have had contact with, such as the character of Batool Ashfag. She being a young lady from Pakistan I went to school with; who could not have been further from being a friend of mine as she (11 at time while I 12) in all truth did not like me in the least, perhaps because we sat too close to each other in class or our meeting in that age before either of us were able to really appreciate the opposite sex.

As for Ewa and myself; we would go on to end our relationship under less then amicable terms given many factors which I will not mention here yet it is to her credit and that of many mentioned here that I wrote the plays “My Son-In-Law” and “The Final Journey”.

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