Sunday, July 16, 2006

On the road to the Regent....

So heaven help me we are still in China. CHINA PEOPLE! I kept telling him the story took place in Arabia. But Nooooo... the Professor knows best. Hrumph.

I have to be back in Arlington this Saturday morning for the ALADDIN performance!! The one time they let me be in a play and I have to get dragged to the other side of the world to tote this guys junk. And I mean aaallll his junk! All he has carried is his purse, excuse me "man bag."

The day after that entry he says "we travel west." So he gets about four paces ahead of me when I stop him, turn him around, and explain that west is thataway. I didn't lose his compass. I took it because he was constantly reading it wrong. This guy could get lost in a closet. And I know closets. So we head off. His idea not mine. I wanted to head to Shang-hi and book passage on a ship or something, but no he said something about a suprise and totally refused the idea. I like suprises!!

So, we have been traveling west for the past two days and now we are standing in front of this wall. A really big wall. Now, when i say really big I mean A FRICKEN GI-NORMOUS WALL!!! I took the pic bellow so my Mom would believe me!!

I looked at the professor and told him I bet suprises arn't looking so bad now huh. Again, he just stared at me for a while and said we will go around it. I told him if I missed the warm-ups before the show there would be heck to pay!! I even started to recite my lines for him. All eight of them over and over again. So we went on like this for a while; wall, lines, more wall, lines, even more wall, lines, something flying through the air and hitting me in the head. When I came to, professor Happ said it must have been a bird or something. I have my doubts.

So here we are camped at the foot of this wall of walls. It's a good thing I packed my laptop. Thanks to my GPS satilite hookup I am able to post this and ask the Makeshift home office for help. Plus I hit level 45 necromancer in wow while the professor was sleeping....and after getting that wicker thing off my fingers. They should put warning labels on those things!

They assured me we would be back home in time for the show on Saturday. I mean I never get to be in the shows. Thanks to an audiance member with a flash camera the actor playing the King took a stage dive and sprained his head or something. Good thing I had memorized the whole show!! it would have been embarassing if the princess had taken the fall...but beggers can't be choosers.

I had better go wake the Prof now. I think I see a car coming. See all of you Saturday morning. Unless the professor starts giving directions again.

Intern/Production Assistant/Sherpa/45th LV Necromancer

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp

Salutations Fellow Scholars,

It has just come to my attention that Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, the latest theatre production courtesy of the forces behind MTC, has opened at The Regent Theatre in Arlington, Massachusetts. Showtimes are June 3, 10, 17, and 24 at 10:30 in the morning. I would highly encourage any aspiring scholar to go see it, as it is not only a brilliantly original production, but also the topic of my current assignment as Field Dramaturg for the Makeshift Theatre Company.

I am currently on assignment, fellow scholars, in the city of Lianyungang, a costal port of rising significance in the Jiangsu Province of China. I am writing this installment of "Professor Happ's Happenings" in a small internet café on Ganjiang Road, just across the street from the local antique bookstore. Why am I here? It's a long and upsetting story. But as difficult as it has been, things are going unusually well now that Nero has his fingers stuck in one of those Chinese novelty toys.

The assignment started off well, at any rate. I was charged by MTC to research the origin and history of the story of Aladdin to an extent not yet fathomed by any other dramaturg. Of course, I immediately recognized Aladdin as one of the stories from the Arabic collection Alf Layla wa-Layla (literally translated, A Thousand Nights and One Night), which is itself the story of a Sassanid Queen named Shahrázád; clearly, we had to begin there. Nero and I packed lightly, taking great care to bring only the essentials of equipment and an abundance of intellect, and together we headed off to Baghdad, Iraq.

Which is where our troubles began.

Of course, there was much debate between myself and the Iraqi customs official over the definition of "field dramaturgy," but that was only a minor impediment when compared to the troubles that soon followed. Nero and I were looking for the ruins of Ctesiphon, the captial city of the former Sassanid Empire, some twenty miles southeast of Baghdad along the Tigris River, but we had no way of getting there. Nero suggested, as he is so apt to do, that we "just start hoofin' it," which I believe was an attempt to recommend walking obscured by some inferior dialect. Needless to say, it was a terrible idea, as he was not only ignoring the influence the tremendous desert heat would exert over our bodies, but he was also overestimating his ability to carry my substantial equipment over such a great distance, and I reminded him of this for seven entire miles!

By that time, we were dehydrated and on the verge of death. But does a scholar ever give in? Does a field dramaturgist ever admit defeat? Does Professor Happ ever take "no" for an answer? Well, sometimes, but only when it's the right answer. At any rate, using a length of rope and several pieces of driftwood, I managed to fashion a raft and Nero and I floated the remaining distance down the Tigris.

At least, we would have, had Nero not dropped my supplies into the river, thereby losing my compass. We eventually ended up in the city of Al Kut, over eighty miles from our intended destination, where I was able to enlist the help of some of the locals. Four days after we had arrived in Iraq,Nero and I were finally at Ctesiphon.

Where we realized, of course, that the story of Aladdin is set in China! I bet Nero had never felt so foolish in his life! We packed up, headed back to Al Kut, found a ride back to Baghdad, and caught a flight to Beijing.

Once there, we stopped by the Tsinghua University Library (where I have some colleagues, of course) and picked up some recent geological surveys. As the cave played a major role in the story of Aladdin, I reasoned that this story would have most likely originated in the area of China most densely punctuated with caves, which turned out to be Jiangsu Province. On our way to Nanjing, the regional capital of Jiangsu, Nero and I stopped by an antique bookstore in Lianyungang. We scoured the shelves for some version, any version at all, of Aladdin, but we found none. Then, much to my dismay, Nero offered a suggestion.

"Maybe," he said, "since the story was told by people in the Middle East about made-up people in China, well . . . maybe the people around here really don't know any more about Aladdin than we do."

I told him that was blatantly obvious, and if he had only realized it three days earlier, we would still be in Iraq. I gawk at his incompetence.

At any rate, we crossed the street to the little café so I could place some calls to MTC. As it turns out, Aladdin actually opened over a week ago, Nero tells me he's in the cast (although I cannot imagine why anyone would think him qualified enough to perform anything), MTC wants us to scrap the assignment and return to the US at once, Nero and I have managed to run up a tab of four-hundred yuan at this little café, and, on top of all that, as I have just discovered, Nero and I are flat broke.

But, on the other hand, the door really isn't that far away. Hmm.

As always, scholars, I charge you to act nobly and honorably wherever your expeditions may take you. Desperation may gnaw at your moral fiber, but it is your duty to represent the enlightened community in the best of all possible lights and to always pay your meal tabs in full and tip your waitresses at least fifteen percent.

Brilliantly Sincere,

Professor Happ
Director of Field Dramaturgy
Makeshift Theatre Co.

P.S. - If I haven't posted another update by this time next week, call the police.

Has everyone gone to crazy town?!?!?

Ok, get this, I get to work and they say "Nero, come here we have someone we wnat you to meet..." I think, I am not falling for that one again. Luke Skywalker is not a real person and he is not in the tool closet. I was locked in there for 3 hours tyhe last time till I grabbed a screw gun and took the hinges off the door. Then I got in trouble for not putting the door back on. Fool me thrice shame on you, fool me 10 times ... Dr. Who is not real either ... shame on me.

So, I am introduced to this proff dude, uh, Happ...Proffessor Happ. Heaven forbid you call him "Mr." because he went on for hours about grad school and how he did not spend years attending comunity college to be called "Mr." Like I have never been to college. I may be just and intern and production assistant here at Makeshift, but I am on the 8th year of my undergraduate degree. I even plan to select a major soon, so take that Mr. proffey britches!!!

After the introductions comes the news. I have to work with this guy. Are you kidding me?!?! He says he is a dramaturdist ... or somethingt like that. wait.... dramaturgist. Sorry ... "A Field Dramaturgist!" He went on about the adventures we would have and said something about me being a messengerboy and a page. First off I told him that my name is Nero, and that Page is a girls name so, get that right! "The Proffesor" started talking about adventures in the field and long travels, blah, blah, blah ... I swear that guy does not breath when you get him going. I didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't understand half the words he was using.

When he is finally done I tell him that I will have to ask my Mom if that is ok because she gets nervous when I stay overnight anywhere. Now he is just staring at me for what seems like forever. The he asks how old I am. 30. And he just walks away. HE WALKS AWAY! Mom is not going to like this guy, uh-uh, not one bit.

So after the powers that be talk to him in the office for a bit he comes back and says it's ok If I ask my mom. So now it looks like I will be helping this new guy out. I hope they pay me this time, or at least not make me pay to get in the building from now on. He keeps telling me to pack light. I know our next show is SNOW WHITE. So i hope we are going to Disney World. Well, I hope I get to go to Disney world. Either way I am packing my playstation, and my lap top, wow, the trilogy, my psp....

production assistant
sherpa (what does this mean?)

The First Correspondence

Salutations Fellow Scholars,

It brings me great joy to formally present the very first proper posting here on "Professor Happ's Happenings." As the resident dramaturg and expert on, well, just about everything for Makeshift Theatre, I am excited and honored with this opportunity to continue the noble practice of my trade in the name of scholarly research.

As the occupation of dramaturg is fairly new to the American theatre scene, I have already posted, as you can see, the definition of said work from Wikipedia. Although I am aware that Wikipedia is not always a reliable source and has been discredited on several occations, all said incidents involved biases based on either personal or chronological proximity to the source material; however, as the index I have used is simply a definition of standard vocabulary, it contains neither personal nor chronological proximity to any of the authors resident to Wikipedia and, therefore, can be regarded as a legitimate definition of the term.

The critical difference between a traditional dramaturg, as per the definition provided, and the services I shall be rendering for the Makeshift Theatre Company (henceforth, MTC) is that MTC has decided to take dramaturgy in a new and exciting direction. Instead of limiting oneself to the cramped confines of a research lab, MTC believes, as do I, that the key to the future of theatre is located not among the dusty pages of antiquated volumes crowding the forgotten shelves of libraries, but among very world in which said art form first took shape.

Did literature predate theatre? Did the first orators of our species learn to write before they learned to speak? Did the very first work of theatre spring from the pages of a book? No! The entire notion is preposterous. Theatre is the culmination of oration, and oration is the physical manifestation of imagination; thusly, MTC has enlisted myself, the esteemed Professor Pellinore Happ, to conduct my noble trade in the heartlands of its own origin; I shall single-handedly catalogue and classify the types of theatre as they have evolved around the world, by studying the very minds in which they developed, and it shall be the crowning glory of a new age, an age known heretofore as the Age of Field Dramaturgy!

Yes, well. I suppose I do get a little excited about it sometimes.

At any rate, I shall have in my employ, as I intrepidly travel across the globe, the services of a page and messengerboy known as Nero. You may, from time to time, encounter updates on this site from him in my stead, as I shall be tirelessly devoted to my research. You may find him, as I do, to be incredibly dull, but I shall ask you on his behalf to be patient with him; he really is a bright young lad and a promising scholar, if only he learns to take his field studies with greater sobriety. In any case, you may rest assured that my ingenious work shall, more often than not, grace the pages contained herein.

And with that, fellow scholars, I must sign off. My first assignment awaits!

Brilliantly Sincere,

Professor Happ
Director of Field Dramaturgy
Makeshift Theatre Co.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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See also dramaturgy.
In the theater, a dramaturg holds a position that gained its modern-day function through the innovations of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a playwright and theater practitioner who worked in Germany in the 18th century.
The dramaturg's contribution was to categorize and discuss the various types and kinds of plays, their interconnectedness and their styles. Enhanced by a tradition of generous support for theater as part of German cultural identity, which gave nearly every city a fully staffed theater supported by public funds, the position of dramaturg includes the hiring of actors and the development of a season of plays with a sense of the connectedness between them, the assistance and editing of new plays by resident or guest playwrights, the creation of programs or accompanying educational services and even helping the director with rehearsals, serving as elucidator of history or spokesperson for absent (deceased) playwrights.
In the United Kingdom, dramaturgs function similarly although they are more often, themselves, also playwrights. In the USA, where this position was until recently relatively unknown, it has enjoyed a recent growth particularly in cutting edge theaters with an emphasis on developing new plays within the theater.