Main Entry: thau·ma·turg
Etymology: French, from New Latin thaumaturgus, from Greek thaumatourgos working miracles, from thaumat-, thauma miracle + ergon work — more at Theater, Work
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.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man my son!
Today, in rehearsal, the cast finished walking their way through the rest of the play—roughing out what they’re calling “flight paths” just to refresh their bodies in the movement and also to adjust to some of the new dynamics of a different space. No acting as such, and jumping swaths of text when appropriate. Like a sculptor just roughing out the first pass to get the general shape; the detail work starts now.
When that process was finished, about 5pm (as many folks would be thinking about packing up and heading home or out for beer, dinner, tv shows, whatever), the company gathered around a big table with KJ and the dramaturgs to read through portions of the research packet they got last week. In particular, we read sections having to do with purification rituals, cleansing rites, and sacramental reintegration for warriors in cultures ancient and modern.
Taking turns by paragraph, the company read out loud accounts from various sources from anthropology texts to The Bible, describing various means devised through the ages for warriors and combatants to cleanse, heal, and return to society—and for societies for which they fought, bled, and killed to expiate their own role or responsibility in that, and to welcome the warriors back. We reflected together about the absence of such rites in our own world, and about the role or lack of ritual in general. We speculated about all sort of things, like the synthesis of the spiritual and the biological/physiological in the notion of such routines, or where we might best introduce the idea and experience of even simple rituals into daily life (when activities like sports, fraternities, church, and family holidays still manage to sustain them but collective national experiences are harder to ritualize). And we made much of a significant difference between the cultures and communities we were reading about—in which there was little if any distinction between warriors and citizens in general, between the world of those who fought and those who didn’t—and our own present, in which the chasm grows ever wider.
It was fascinating material, both for the nature of the various rituals (somehow we thought that smearing dung and other offal on one’s spouse’s face might not go over so big these days) and the recurring common threads that ran through so many. And it prompted fascinating and sometimes rather profound discussion.
It is a conversation actually raised within the play, a question and consideration audiences will have awakened for them by one of the characters—and a conversation we certainly hope continues among those who see the play.