Friday, April 23, 2010

Alan Bennett, The Habit of Art

Poem of the day will be delayed until a later hour. I cannot get Alan Bennett's play The Habit of Art, out of my mind. I believe it is one of the most layered plays I have ever seen [or read]. I will not say it's as deep or long lasting as Shakespeare but it is at least as complex and masterfully done. [The play within the play refers to Caliban and plays on The Tempest.] Several stories are interwoven, several themes played out, and so much about the theatre as a profession is revealed, along with wonderful moments of easy humor, there is even, for humor and to emphasize the randomness and inexplicability of life, an unexplained appearance of a man dressed as a Cossack in winter garb who comes in and sits down, never speaks a word -- what an image! Discussions of art, aging, lust [for boys], long term relationships, all come and go, along with demonstrations of the actor's ego and it's brave, frightened, needy, bullying, vulnerable make-up shown along side Benjamin Britian's need for truth from an old friend who will not kowtow to his fame. I could go on and on -- as with any accomplished piece of art I encounter, be it a play, a novel, a painting, a fine quilt [see my other blog about Nancy Crow], I am enriched by thinking about it and looking at how a brilliant person made something full of meaning and gave me and all his/her audience a wonderful gift. The habit of making art is, as this play shows, a necessity for some but it does not elevate their lives or make them better than they are. As in the play, no one becomes better than they are, but all struggle and sometimes succeed in being very fine.


Helen Conway said...

Oooh! I get to see this at The Lowry in Salford in October. I am looking forward to it

Jim Murdoch said...

You might find my two article on Bennett of interest. Here's a link to the first one. The second concentrates on Talking Heads.