Monday, January 19, 2015

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie...Really

Friday we went to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at Theatre in the Round.  I didn't know anything about it and, at first, it was strange.  Miss Brodie is a peculiar character talking about how her female students are the crème de la crème and she's putting old heads on their young bodies.  Over the course of the play it becomes evident that what she's really saying is that she has these ideas about how exciting the world should be, how much grander it should be than her own life.  And those ideas spill over into how she interacts with everyone, positioning them to be Lady of Shallot-like, resistance fighters, and other characters in an internal view of the world that, while it isn't obviously crazy, is warping and dangerous to her students, particularly given her status as their teacher.  One student, the one she positions as the practical and dependable character, rebels and fills positions that don't fit Miss Brodie's plans for individuals, on purpose to push at Miss Brodie and to show her that the way she's casting her students in roles that fill her grandiose, literary, visions of the world are limiting and, eventually deadly.

It was a very uncomfortable play - and one of the few at TiTR over the last several years to make me really think - in how the teacher's belief in her the greatness of her students was, in the end, limiting and problematic, despite being a draw for those students and the men who loved her and who couldn't fulfill her internal narrative (made external).

An amusing TITR-specific story is that Sue, who I used to work with, was there and noted that the nudity in the show was undertaken by someone her son had been in high school with, which made her feel particularly old.

Saturday, my wife and I went to the Trylon (yeah, new projector, paid for in part with corporate matching dollars from our donations.  TITR listed donations from us which were matched as well.  It's good to know my art-related donations are going to places I frequent).  They were showing Picnic at Hanging Rock.  It wasn't nearly as fast at the Zatiochi series Kyle, Ming, Eryn, and I have been attending, but it was surprisingly similar to Miss Jean Brodie in a few respects (Zatiochi is not).  At one point one of the teachers says of Miranda, who disappears, that she's like a Botticelli angel and it comes with all the baggage that being that angel would entail.  Something to look at rather than a character of action.  Shortly afterwards, all the gazing at Miranda (and her friends) that has happened, turns to active searching as they disappear at Hanging Rock, nearly naked by the terms set forth in the movie (stockings, corset, gloves).  Sexuality in part has caused them to disappear as visions of courtly/painted love.  It is a SLOW movie.  But that gave you plenty of time to think through what they were doing, and why the search was so important, and what their disappearance was doing to all the other characters in the movie.  Pooteewheet (my wife) and I thought at first it might be based on a real event.  But it's not.  And that makes the unresolved ending all the more intriguing in a movie.  When I popped over to Wikipedia to look up what else Peter Weir has directed, it wasn't a surprise to see The Truman Show, The Mosquito Coast, and Gallipoli (which was the one I knew).

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