Friday, July 24, 2009

Theatre and Poetry (3)

One last taste of poetry related musings from the Fringe Festival. I won a pair of comp. tickets from and decided to take my friend Gary to one of the shows. Because he had once planned to write a modern interpretation of the Divine Comedy, I took him to see the production, "Dante."

It was well done on an interesting premise, an underlying theme of selling out one's art for one's own survival/well-being. Dante has survived into this time in the company of Petrarch's inspiration "Laura" who has taken care of him through the centuries. Dante may have lost his own inspiration, his Beatrice, but his reputation and that of his masterpiece continue.

Dante is useless, unable to even try to get a job to sustain the two. To make ends meet and unknown to Dante, Laura has been selling quotes from his poems as advertising jingles but the producers want fresh materials. Dante refuses to write. Then a lucrative offer from a movie production company to film the Divine Comedy, promises to become the answer to their problems. What's more, the power behind that offer is the incarnation of his beloved Beatrice, his inspiration all those centuries ago. Now he can have his cake and eat it too, so to speak; have his poetry spread through the world and his beloved Beatrice by his side.

All Beatrice wants is that he sign over all rights to his work. To make it more palatible for her audience she needs to make some changes, changes Dante did not envision in the original. So. Does Dante sell out for money and basking in the glow of his beloved or hold his art close and continue to try to exist under harsh circumstances but with his masterpiece and reputation intact?

Important questions for any artist. If your muse deserts you, can you recognise her should she return? Would she be the same, treat you as she did before?

How much should you let others influence or even shape your art? If it is produced for a commercial purpose, is it art?

Every painter, writer, sculptor, photographer, whatever the medium of expression faces this question at one time or another. And sometimes our answers do not remain constant.

We have to live with and by our decisions.

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