Friday, 12 May 2017

Barker versus Bendis

Diderot liked naturalism, and disliked the way that Racine used a poetic tone for all of his characters. He even told playwrights that they ought to leave some of the script programmatic, and let the actor work out how to stutter their way through a dramatic scene. 

By the twentieth century, playwrights were happy enough to write in a naturalistic tone. Try this for size...

From Claw, Howard Barker

The Abercorn was crowded, it seemed I could skip the formality of buying myself a coffee and just dump the bag down, who would notice that hullabaloo, but I thought better of it, always sticking by instructions and remembering how I had to make a good impression and not cut corners, so I joined the queue, joggling my holdall with their stiff new carrier bags and thinking of this queue only the quickest drinkers, the gulpers to be accurate, would leave intact. I bought a raspberry milkshake because I knew how hot the tea was in this place. Half finished beverages look suspicious — and picked a table well towards the back, the blast would have dissipated if I’d set it near the window. I put the bag between my feet. An old bloke looked at me. I stared back. Two ladies joined me. They were going on about loose covers, whatever they may be. I drank my drink, with one eye on my watch and thinking Lily you are within ten minutes of eternity. That thought ran through my head. It moved me, in a funny way. I suddenly had the thought that the bomb’s timing might not be that accurate, and having no wish to be disintegrated by my own hand, got up and pushed my chair in, hot and I thought conspicuous. Outside I broke into a sweat. I felt a prickling in my back. Supposing just as I stepped out, I was blown to buggery! But I walked stiff as a copper to the corner, and then I ran, oh did I run, the beauty of my athletic running no athlete ever knew, my winged feet carried me across the pavements, past the concrete flower boxes, human faces were like leaves whirling by me and I thought of all the beauty of the world and life and women and fresh air and it was like the whole world stretched her green hills out to me. 

Now, let's have a look at a scene scripted by Brian Michael Bendis. He's got the advantage of using speech bubbles. You could say that the extract from Claw is a literary interpretation, as it is all about the text. Bendis have been given some dramaturgy, courtesy of Alex Maleev.

In the interest of transparency, Bendis has been slagged for this sequence... on the grounds that it reads like a play or something. Well, yes, and in case the point isn't clear, I did a bit of cross-platform dramaturgy myself...

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