When the Centuries Overlap -- On Line
It's amazing what you can find on line, from people you don't even know, who are updating ancestry information. New information pops up, virtually day by day.
My wife and I were discussing her ongoing genealogy research of her maternal ancestors in Lancashire, England – so many relatives with the same names, from century to century. People with the same first and last names pop up in Manchester....or Liverpool....or Rhode Island....or Baltimore....or Kentucky.....or Australia....and some of them even back to England.
She also researched my mother’s ancestry, in the same region -- centuries of women named Mary and Jane and Elizabeth (right out of the 16th Century history books) plus men named John and James and George. No direct links between families, at least not yet.
We agreed there could be a play about the overlapping of the centuries – when suddenly we remembered that just such a play has already been written.
“Stoppard!” one said.
“Arcadia!” the other said.
I refreshed my memory about "Arcadia," and the first thing I noticed was that the playwright, Tom Stoppard (Born Tomás Straüssler on July 3, 1937 in Zlín, Czechoslovakia) is having a birthday soon. Happy birthday, with thanks for one of the most beautiful evenings we have ever spent in the theater.
It was July of 1993, and I was not scheduled to write at Wimbledon that day, so I started to duck out of the press tribune around 5, only to hear the cutting tones of my beloved colleague, Robin Finn, alerting the entire press crew: “So, Giorgio, the Missus has theater tickets tonight, huh?”
Well, yes. Marianne had picked up tickets for the Stoppard play at the National Theatre on the South Bank, our favorite place in London, or maybe the world. Very often, she would see two plays in one day.
This night we watched a play about a country estate in Derbyshire in 1809, where a man is tutoring his precocious charge, just entering her teens.
The plot is complicated – Stoppard’s always are – but the main theme is about the maintenance of the mansion; to change or not to change?
The action shifts to 1990 or so, when other humans are discussing the very same country estate. (Makes you think there just might always be an England, despite its “leaders.”)
The centuries rock against each other like tectonic plates but the twains do not meet until – spoiler alert – the very last scene, when the two generations mingle on the stage.
Stoppard can be highly intellectual and abstract, but suddenly my eyes were gushing, tears from nowhere. This is the best thing the theater can do – bring you to your knees, in emotion. My fine drama teachers at Hofstra taught us about “catharsis” – from the Greek, the cleansing, the purging.
“Arcadia” made us think and feel deeply. In 2009, The Independent asked if Arcadia was the “greatest play of our age.”
One review described “Arcadia” as “a serious comedy about science, sex and landscape gardening.” I also remember a murder mystery and physics mixed in.
My best to you, sir. Perhaps you are writing?
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More about “Arcadia:”
6/25/2019 01:46:07 pm
Loved the post, GV. Best to Marian,also. I expect you both descended from William the Conqueror!
6/25/2019 04:24:35 pm
Ed: You have got amazing intuition. Either that, or she told you. And I think she found some kind of tangled way that my mother's English side goes back that way, too -- a trusted aide to William. (47% of my DNA goes back to some shtetl. ) GV
6/25/2019 05:11:46 pm
Great minds example. My grandmother and grandfather were Italian, she born in “northern Italy.” He in US, but his parents both Italian.
6/25/2019 05:18:31 pm
Mr. Wilson, sure.
6/25/2019 03:40:37 pm
6/25/2019 04:29:24 pm
Hansen: Thanks, man, but here's my tip. On Thursday, the National Theatre comes to you. There are 3-4 movie theatres in Manhattan that will show a new NT production, "Small Island," about people from Jamaica moving to England. It's a live production with crowd glimpses and intros. Check out website for NTLive. We'll catch it in a week or so, on a re-run. Other good stuff coming up this summer and fall. You'll feel you are on the South Bank. GV
6/25/2019 07:10:35 pm
6/27/2019 02:24:52 pm
Peggy and I saw Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about 50 years or so, ago, and reflecting on Altenir’s comments, we loved it, but the highly intelligent, educated, progressive couple we were with, left at the intermission-hated it. Art, creativity, different receptors for different folks.
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.