Great Dramatic Narration of the Gunpowder Scene

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  • 17 Oct 2013 at 10:00 pm #4161

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    I need to apologize to Jeff Wood, the fine performer whose dramatic presentation of Tobin’s gunpowder-making narrative from Blood Meridian you are about to watch by following this link: https://vimeo.com/23177324

    I’ve had this link for weeks and kept promising Jeff I’d put it up. Well, here it is. It’s really worth watching, so set aside about a half hour and enjoy.


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    19 Oct 2013 at 6:11 pm #4185

    Driftwood70
    Member

    Thanks for the link, Rick, and no apologies necessary! I’m honored to be in company. If anybody would like to discuss… I’d be obliged.

    Let the scalping begin.

    Jeff


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    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by  Driftwood70.
    19 Oct 2013 at 8:40 pm #4190

    That was a fine, fine reading by Mr. Wood. He definitely looked the part. I’d had Ben Tobin pictured as an older sort, in the Stephen McHattie or Brad Dourif vein, but Mr. Wood does possess that somber solemnity and the fraying sanity that Tobin embodies. I would love to see him do a full-on play adaptation of the piece, perhaps by campfire light. I’ve got the video favorited for future rewatch. Bravo, sir. Bravo.


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    21 Oct 2013 at 11:14 am #4200

    Driftwood70
    Member

    Thank you, sir. Thanks for watching. I’m working quickly enough on becoming an older sort. It was beautiful and terrifying to perform the piece in an extremely intimate theatre space – the language itself becoming the central hallucinatory character. But I have likewise longed to perform it by campfire light, be it live or cinematic…


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    23 Oct 2013 at 8:50 am #4213

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    Jeff, see if you can find yourself a couple of colleagues – including one big fat hairless one = and dramatize Reverend Green’s sermon.


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    23 Oct 2013 at 5:00 pm #4228

    Rick Wallach: Jeff, see if you can find yourself a couple of colleagues – including one big fat hairless one = and dramatize Reverend Green’s sermon.

    Not just this — I would love to see if you could condense Blood Meridian into a stage performance. It would be difficult, and much would have to be implied (the massacres, for instance, would take place off-screen) but perhaps you could have a solitary character, such as Tobin, acting as voyeur, explaining in McCarthy’s words the violence and fracas we are to bear terrible witness to. I quite like the idea of imagining the Glanton gang stepping off into the blackness, as Tobin (you) stands alone, narrating the terrible brutality, and then they return moments later, streaked in blood and gore and carrying scalps.


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    25 Oct 2013 at 11:52 am #4285

    Driftwood70
    Member

    You gentlemen make a formidable proposal.

    I’ve often thought about what it would be like to perform the entire work; to take it on and commit it to memory. There’s certainly a fatal attraction there. The experience of putting one measly 30-minute chapter to memory, and performing it, was transformative. I’ve spoken with Rick about this: the interesting thing about the language is that, in my opinion, even the very best cinematic adaptations (as much as I enjoy, support, look forward to, and want to be involved in them!) are not accurate representations or substitutes for the language itself. There’s true alchemy at work in the language of Blood Meridian. The language inhabits you and uses YOU (reader/performer/listener/audience member) as a vehicle for creating its pictures, rather than providing them for you. This small undertaking arose organically out of having been inhabited by the language and essentially having to figure out what to do about it, literally having to figure out how to get it out of me. My discovery with it as a performer – and I don’t mean this metaphorically – is that the text is actually a living thing; an organism or living system, like a virus or colony, that is capable of living inside you (al)chemically. This is arguably true of any written work, and the foundation of language itself, but with Blood Meridian McCarthy has managed to erect and sustain an operatic architecture whose form and content are in concert in both the querying and execution of that alchemy. As if the Judge himself were writing the novel as it is being read, each time for the first time.

    On the other side of the coin, I have a friend (Tommy Noonan) who’s a theatre-maker who has created whole Western/Appalachian landscapes in the mind of the audience using breathing, a flashlight, a little bit of music and his fingers as a horse, trotting across the desert of the stage floor. Amazing what you can do with very little.

    In any case, I would very much like to figure out and pursue a way to continue being involved with McCarthy’s living text both theatrically and cinematically. All suggestions and discussions are greatly appreciated!

    On a parallel note, anyone going to the Vimeo site may also dig a video called FRONTIER – a micro-budget feature film I made with two buddies of mine, fully improvised and executed in just under a month.

    https://vimeo.com/65214127

    If you have an hour, check it out and turn it up!

    Jeff


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    25 Oct 2013 at 12:48 pm #4293

    Jeff,

    Well, I think you could have the Kid be almost entirely silent for most of the proceedings, as he is in the novel. Perhaps not even have the kid speak more than a single sentence at a time until the final scene with him and the judge before the time jump. Have him be present in every scene, and have him just as a silent observer throughout all of it. In fact, whenever he does speak, which is seldom, he could always say something that brings heavy weight with it (i.e. “What’s he a judge of?”). All other characters try to speak for him (Tobin, Toadvine, the judge himself), but when the kid finally does speak, it should have some sort of impact. The kid is the least verbose character, making him even more of a counterweight to Holden.

    The play, as I’d see it, would open in blackness, with the kid crouched on the stage floor, surrounded by darkness, as the “See the child” monologue carries on. He rises, passes his drunkard father (who vanishes in the darkness) and then, one by one, a spotlight could shine on things he takes up. His hat. A bottle. A gun. Increasing elements of the violent life he will soon lead. Maybe with each step, we see an image of the events (the shooting in the chest, a violent fistfight), then darkness. And then, eventually, he joins the tent revival at Nacogdoches (which would mostly be a few pews in front of a pulpit). After Reverend Green is chased off, a few lingering souls could ask the judge then and there how he “come to know of” the rascal.

    Just a few ideas.

    I’ve long held the notion that if Blood Meridian were to be done as a film, 95 percent of the dialogue would have to be Holden’s (the other 5 percent monosyllabic grunts), which creates an interesting case: the most brutal of all is the most cultured of all. But a play presents an opportunity to tell the story through dialogue and narration rather than visuals.

    I should add that your writing of what makes Blood Meridian (and McCarthy’s writing) such a blazingly wonderful thing is spot-on.

    I’ll watch FRONTIER when I return from seeing The Counselor tonight.


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    25 Oct 2013 at 4:20 pm #4304

    robmcinroy
    Member

    perhaps you could incorporate the chautauqua conceit from The Stonemason. It doesn’t really work in that play, but it might be a way of commenting on the action within BM without the characters being actively involved.


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    25 Oct 2013 at 4:59 pm #4306

    Driftwood70
    Member

    The interesting thing about the “Chautauqua Conceit” is that in the splitting of the dramatic representation of history from the “telling” of it – history, according to McCarthy is afforded it’s own autonomy and hermeticism, independent of the telling of it. This seems in line with the Judge’s historical ideology. It’s also Brechtian, in the theatrical splitting.

    On the other hand, the pure “telling” of history as story-telling, absent any dramatization, seems more in line with the Judge’s actual actions, and the alchemy of the novel itself.

    Interesting…


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