Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wednesday: Martha rehearsal

In the am at Joan's. Discovered scattered small word changes in the script, must consult Rosanna when she gets back in town to see if they are accidental reversions to an earlier draft (I hope!) or intentional. She only mentioned 3 bits of new material, these aren't those. Also, one change I know is intentional, a two line addition near the end, just doen't seem to work..... perhaps it would work a page earlier? Singing went a little better, but there are still notes that are unreliable. Must get more herbal tea and continue treating sore throat.

lister asks:
re-writing AGAIN my play about my grandma..... is set in the 40's and 50's and I don't use any F-bombs. The characters say Goddamn and bitch....what about bitch? Do you think that was used in the 50's....What could be used instead of bitch?
I reply:
Where, when, by whom? I was alive and listening then. I overheard grownups swearing and talking raunchy while playing poker when they thought we kids were asleep, but it was 1957 before I ever heard the F-word said aloud. "Damn" and "hell" were not respectable, esp. in "mixed company". Goddam was worse. "Bitch" the verb, for complaining, was more common than the female dog insult--- SOB was daring, Son of a Gun borderline. People really did say things like "I do not allow such language in my house", and warn young ladies to stay away from young men who were known to use disrespectful terms like "bitch". Respectable parents really did wash kids mouths out with soap for using "Bad Language". Non-respectable people did cuss and blaspheme far beyond what is preserved in movies and plays and even novels of the era-- censorship was strong--- but you could only "get away" with this if you were financially independent of the dominant culture or in a "special" space--- cockfights, poker games, tough blue collar work sites-- places where "good" women were not allowed to go. OTOH, ethnic slurs were more common and less likely to be chided.
My mother, born 1917, still objects to hearing on stage words she knows very well are said by the sorts of characters portrayed in the situations shown. She just doesn't think they belong in a public auditorium! And like many community theatres, the groups she patronizes habitually change or cut the "bad words" in the scripts they produce.
My play "Intercourse Ohio" is set in 1959, and characters talk about "bad" words...
I also recommend Marge Piercy's "Gone For Soldiers".


Blogger aim said...

You're absolutely right about swearing--in my house, "Gad!" was considered cussing. And my grandmother could not bring herself to use the word "leg"--to risque. So her tables had "limbs." On the otherhand, teenage boys, in high school locker rooms and on boy scout camping trips, cussed like mad--but only the "hell" and "damn" variety--"fuck" was very, very rarely heard, and usually suggested that the speaker was distinctly blue collar. At least in the small Massachusetts town I was in.

6:10 AM  

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