Week 7 Blog Post

We chose to perform an excerpt from the beginning act of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. In this scene, George and Martha are arguing after coming home from a party. Albee bases the play in realism, then slowly breaks down the realistic elements of the character’s world to reveal absurdism. We chose this specific scene because it is one of the most realistic in the play, but we were also interested in how realism functioned in the entire play. Though Martha herself is a very extreme, emotional, and, for lack of a better word, extra character, her dialogue with George is believable and realistic. It seems like a natural conversation between a bickering couple with an extreme personality.

In order to act this, it was necessary that both of us had actually read the play beforehand to know the characters fully through all of the decisions that they made. Because we were both familiar with the play and had analyzed it previously in different classes, we had pretty clear ideas of the intentions, motivations, and emotional states of the characters, so we could afford to skip the character analysis that I consider necessary before performing a role. We then chose our characters by thinking of who’s natural personality leant to performing which roles. This is very important in realism especially, because the goal is to make the scene reflect real life as closely as possible. After we cast ourselves, we read through the scene and chose a specific cut that we felt showed the realism in the scene well. Then we recorded.

One thought on “Week 7 Blog Post

  1. Hi Ruva,
    Similar to what I wrote on Von’s blog, I’m interested in the idea that you think the scene is realistic – which is is, but it also has a great deal of camp in the back and forth between this couple. You’re playing the outsize personality of Martha – loud, bellicose, dramatic. And Von plays George as quite understated — you two play to the camera and hardly look at one another. You picked the opening of the play – Martha comes in and she is drunk, and it feels playful and dangerous all at the same time. One of realism’s topics is the bourgeois marriage – and here the opening scene tells us that there is great tension between these two — not just a contrast between two very different personalities. The home is the battleground for resentments and the couple have been playing games for a very long time. But the dramatic tension is deeply compressed — in this one “game” about guessing the movie star, so much about their relationship is pointed out and foregrounded as the matter of the play. The genre of realism is partially defined by its examination of bourgeois marriage as a kind of battleground — from Strindberg’s Dance of Death written in 1900 right when Freud was asserting the psychological depth of the individual and locating one’s repressed feelings as formed in the family unit. But Freud, Strindberg, and later Bergman in Scenes From A Marriage and here in Virginia Woolf have really looked only at a narrow sample of marriage as an institution, for realism as it pertains to family drama, up until Raisin in the Sun was looking at white middle and upper class bourgeois marriage — a specific form of patriarchal structure. This situation between George and Martha is realistic only for “some” subjects — and the realism is actually quite crafted and heightened – the repartee and situation doesn’t “really” look like real life but is dramatically crafted instead to point to the intensities of marriage. In other words, realism is really weird and its historical precedents are deeply intertwined with the imagination of an oppressive patriarchal paradigm of marriage — for that has been one of realism’s subjects since the genre appeared.

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