Monday, March 29, 2010

Lessons from The Verge

"I've seen the future and it is slang."--Fanny, On the Verge

Recently, I read a thoroughly excellent play entitled "On the Verge." (see picture). Basic premise: three Victorian explorer women set out to explore "Terra Incognita," and end up travelling into the future. Highly recommended. It made me realize how many fantastic, delicious words ther are in the English language. There's a whole treasure trove of words out there just begging to be used!

Resolution #1: Polish up vocabulary.

In contrast, the show I just finished working on, columbinus, had a different sort of vocabulary. It was gritty and realistic and very rough, which was perfectly fitting for the show. The constant barrage of dirty words made me realize how pointless foul language is. Its only point is to shock and seek attention. But after you've been bombarded with those words thousands of times, they loose their power. But words like: incandescent, sunset, creamy, cerulean, ebullient, effervescent, melifluous, snowfall, sparkle, celestial, vibrant, beauty, quintessence, and love will always radiate beauty and meaning. That's what language is supposed to be.

Also, I was surprised by how much I identified with the character Mary (there are three main characters-Fanny, Mary, and Alexandra). Throughout the play, I never felt like I had a good sense of who Mary was, until the end. Half-way through the play, the women settle down in the 1950's. But Mary wants to travel on, she wants to find more and more adventures---"I have such a yearning for the future! It is boundless!" I love that spirit of adventure-it reminds me of that Chesterton quote: "An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered, an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."

Resolution #2: Look on life as an adventure.

Finally, one of the big debates that exists in the play is whether or not the women should wear trousers. (Trousers! Shocked gasp.) Alexandra is all for it, Fanny is dead set against it, and Mary says: "The civilizing mission of Woman is to reduce the amount of masculinity in the world. Not add to it by wearing trousers." I would argue with Mary that we're not supposed to reduce the amount of masculinity, per se, but rather counter it with an equal amount of femininity. These three women are strong, gracious, and playful. Despite their idiosyncratic flaws, they're all admirable literary characters.

Resolution #3: Be a part of "On the Verge" someday, somehow, somwhere.


  1. Nice point on foul language. Since coming to college, I've been exposed to it more, and thus a little desensitized, but it's so true that all that you're doing is going for shock value. So many times when people swear, I've noticed how utterly pointless it all is. They could have expressed themselves just as forcefully and accurately without it (and sometimes the only reason they swear is from habit; it's not even like they have the excuse of strong emotion or outrage).

    This sounds like I'd like to read it. Do you have a copy *looks hopeful*?

  2. And hurrah for femininity! When the collegiates get back, we should hold a summit on ways to add femininity to the world. ;)