Friday, December 12, 2008

Mac Wellman's Original Mister Bugg,
or
"What is appropriate for the stage versus the page?"

I’ve been revisiting some of my old favorites. There was a time when I thought Mac Wellman could do no wrong. I dog eared and dirtied up the pages of my copy of Bad Infinity back in the mid nineties. And, even though I haven’t taken the leap to by the Cellophane collection, I have been pouring over the library’s copy of it.

It is fun to read some of these plays which I saw in production back when I was a NYC, Girl Gone and Fnu Lnu particularly.

One of the shorter pieces, Mister Original Bugg, has been cooking in my brain since I read it. The premise is a short play about the action of naming things. We see a series of introductions, wildly named people file past are view. The piece concludes with a meditation on how naming actually affects perception and reality.

This is a Drama about the power of words rather than the appeal of action. On the page it is, I feel, delightful and maybe even a little sublime. But what happens if it is no longer on the page but now on the stage. At the time of publication, the play had not yet been produced (I think that has changed). There is nothing inherently Aristotelian in the play. That classic paradigm of course could be pushed upon the piece, but whatever narrative arises from the construction is something other than Scribe’s ‘well made’ play.

I’d love to see a production of this play. Who knows maybe even direct a production of it. The piece reminds me that the mere joy of vocabulary can, in the proper dosage, be reason enough unto itself to fiddle in front of those willing.

Anyone else read Mister Original Bugg? Or can you speak about similar such reading/viewing experiences?

1 comment:

Paul Rekk said...

After that recommendation, I will be reading it soon. I seem to be preternaturally drawn to things that don't seem like they should be able to transfer from page to stage. Number six of The Nine is Alfred Jarry's Caesar Antichrist, which will be a logistical challenge to put it lightly. Of course, I also as a director am a little more prone to artistic license, which I is closely tied to that tendency. From my p.o.v., the most exciting plays are the ones that present ideas and conceptions of such brilliance and in a manner of such brilliance that they couldn't possibly be physicalized as written. My job as a director is to make it seem like they can.