The Thaumaturgy Department

(It's dramaturgy, not thaumaturgy.)

Gavin
CENTERSTAGE
Baltimore
Maryland
USA

thaumaturg
Main Entry: thau·ma·turg
Pronunciation: \ˈthȯ-mə-ˌtərj\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from New Latin thaumaturgus, from Greek thaumatourgos working miracles, from thaumat-, thauma miracle + ergon work — more at Theater, Work

2014-2015 Season:
Amadeus
Next to Normal
It's A Wonderful Life
One Night in Miami
Herzog Rep
After the Revolution
4000 Miles
Marley
Play Labs

The official blog of the Dramaturgy Department at Baltimore's CENTERSTAGE. For posts related to our current and upcoming shows, click the links to the right. Alternatively, you could begin at the beginning, and explore our posts in chronological order.

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Japanese lore tells of a giant catfish, Namazu, that lives beneath the earth’s surface (or in the mud beneath Japan). Typically, a god/demigod pins Namazu by means of a rather large stone. When the god/demigod is away however, Namazu thrashes about, causing earthquakes and wreaking havoc for those above.

Japanese lore tells of a giant catfish, Namazu, that lives beneath the earth’s surface (or in the mud beneath Japan). Typically, a god/demigod pins Namazu by means of a rather large stone. When the god/demigod is away however, Namazu thrashes about, causing earthquakes and wreaking havoc for those above.



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And images after the quake (again with the site).



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Kobe prior to the quake (from the same site).

Kobe prior to the quake (from the same site).



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(from the Kobe University Library Digital Archive)

(from the Kobe University Library Digital Archive)



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The telling of an earthquake.

Looking ahead to after the quake, consider the following excerpts from Regina Bendix’s article ”Reflections on Earthquake Narrative” (from West Folklore, volume 49, October 1990).

The article itself centers primarily on the 1989 Loma Prita Quake in California’s Bay Area, but her implications extend beyond the particular incidents to consider the effects of earthquakes in general, and the narratives that people relate after the disaster has passed.

To what extent can/ought the article and its observations be applied to Murakami’s story and Galati’s adaptation? To the situation of the characters and the way in which we as an audience will experience the story? Interesting thoughts to consider, and for the moment, I’ll leave you to ponder a bit for yourself.

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"[E]arthquake stories…illustrate with astounding clarity the interplay between the event, the personal experience thereof, and the structuring of this experience in a meaningful fashion."

"[Tellers of personal narratives] will rely on their own memory and their knowledge on how to craft a narrative to reconstruct what happened."

"For the individual, earthquake stories can be expressions of utter relief of personal survival, and a means of regaining composure and overcoming the sense of isolation and abandonment by sharing the experience with fellow victims."

"The human brain registers and is able to recall distressing or highly unusual experiences more densely than events that fall within the expected realm of experience—presumably again because they lack ‘order.’"

"The vivid and detailed rendering of earthquake experiences makes up for time seemingly lost, and establishes a bridge between the before and after."

"[E]veryone who experienced the quake also owns a story."

"Thoughts and perceptions of what happened before, during and after the quake are tightly crammed together in one’s memory…"

"On one level earthquake stories are simply illustrations of the rich texture of an urban, postindustrial multi-ethnic culture and the frailty of this entire cultural construction when met by the forces of nature."

"[W]hile the content of earthquake narratives is varied, there is an almost uniform narrative emphasis on the absurdity of one’s actions during and immediately after the quake.”

"While the telling of the disaster experience constitutes the initial mental effort to regain order, the humorous treatment of the experience constitutes a celebration of the liminal and hence disorderly state brought on by an earthquake."



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