Event Analysis 10/18
On Tuesday, October 16th, I attended The Playwrights Group of Baltimore’s showing of “Playful Poe”. The group presented a series of 10-minute skits that were adapted from several of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories. The One Where the Monkey Almost Gets Away, written by local playwright Amy Bernstein, was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue. It could easily be compared to this weeks readings of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Formula and Old Walt both by Langston Hughes in the sense that all of the works we’ve read this week share a common theme about how important it is not to do things just for the sake of doing them, but doing them with the highest of standards to reach full potential of greatness.
The One Where the Monkey Almost Gets Away by Amy Bernstein is a skit about a musical director and his search to find the best cast to complete his musical. He tries desperately to convince Camille, a Broadway diva to take the role of a woman who has badly beaten and murdered by an orangutan. She’s skeptical of the small role at first but eventually reluctantly agrees to take the role. The director’s next job is to find the right actor to play the role of the orangutan, but has no luck. Eventually in the skit an actual orangutan goes to the director and Camille and tries to convince them that doing a Broadway musical in which the orangutan as a villain is racist. The orangutan, whose name is Simian, does not appreciate the light that him and his species are being associated with and requests the show be cancelled. The director starts to see the true potential of the play by not just casting an actor to play the orangutan, he asks that Simian himself play the role of the orangutan. The director feels strongly that having a real life orangutan being cast would boost up the musical to a new level. The director tries to convince Simian that by doing the musical, he would be showing courage and protecting the orangutan species as a whole. Simian agrees and the scene ends. The director of the musical wants his musical to the best it can be, and he knows that the only way it can be the best is if he thinks outside the box and casts an actual orangutan to play the role.
Langston Hughes’ approach to glorifying poetry is done in a similar way in his poem Formula. He encourages poets not just to follow the rules; he says poetry is supposed to have light, rhythm and a certain carelessness that separates standard writing from great writing. There’s supposed to be meaning and which meaning comes originality. That is what separates the average poets from the great poets.
In Old Walt, Langston Hughes is referring to Walt Whitman as one of those great poets who is always moving forward with his poetry. “Every detail minding, of the seeking or the finding.” refers to Walt’s ability to stress every little detail of his works to define specific strengths in the words he uses to make a point. Walt is constantly searching for ways to improves, ways to excel in what he knows best, which is poetry.
Victor Frankenstein, of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, is a character that throughout his life has studied natural sciences and philosophy. He dreams of making his mark in scientific history and wants to come up with the next greatest discovery in the field. Victor’s quest to become the best ultimately leads him down a path that will lead to devastation and regret, as he soon creates a human-like monster who feels exiled from human society. This ties into the theme of doing things to go big or go home. Victor believes that the only way to put his name into the history books is to do what no scientist has ever done before, cloning. He dares to think outside the box and although he ultimately causes more destruction than planned, there was plenty of potential for greatness.