30 PLAYS IN 30 DAYS: Play #13 “Arcadia” by Tom Stoppard
I have decided for the month of September to read 30 plays in 30 days. It is my belief that, if possible, a play should be read in one sitting to get a better inherent sense of the dramatic arc. Each day, I will write a short post here about the play of the day.
Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
Tom Stoppard is a genius.
Now that I have your attention…
I am not saying anything new by calling Mr. Stoppard a genius, and I should tell you, I think the word “genius” is incredibly overused. But it is true in this instance. I have been in awe of Mr. Stoppard since reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead my junior year of high school, right after reading Hamlet (thank you Mrs. Allen).
My first year of college, I was a student of Boston University’s BFA acting program in their school for the arts, which had a relationship with the Huntington Theatre. I went to see Arcadia as a student and was blown away by the production (the following day, members of the cast came to speak to my acting class — — including a 19 year-old young woman, which made us all a little jealous and wonder what we were doing in school while she was in this amazing production). I remember at the time just marveling at how the play was like a symphony in the way it was so brilliantly orchestrated, taking elements from different times and blending them so beautifully on stage. So precise, so wonderful.
I never read the script until today, but always praised the play because of my fond memories of the production. Reading the script today is like reading the sheet music of that great symphony, and being just as in awe.
Arcadia takes place in the same room, in 1808 and the present day. The play deals with research, truth, evidence, history, mathematics, time, space, physics…
Now, who can take all of this stuff, which sounds so heady on the page, and make an engrossing, lovely, poignant, entertaining play out of it?
The same guy who can take two minor characters from Hamlet and build a tragicomic piece on existentialism and identity.
Tom Stoppard, that’s who.
I would go into greater detail, but that might rob one of seeking out a production or reading the script themselves, which is something I have no interest in doing. I mean, who can really describe a symphony?
Originally published at https://theaterisasport.blogspot.com.