Absurdist Plays and Claims to Fame

I actually wrote this piece several years ago during my first year of university. For some reason I side-lined it for a rainy day, even though it always brought a smile to my face the few times I stumbled across it afterwards. Now I’ve finished uni, a new sense of nostalgia has joined the happiness I feel when reading this piece, together with the need to preserve the memory. Aside from a little necessary doctoring (it’s amazing how much one’s writing can develop in a few short years) this story remains the same as the day it was created.

***

A short while ago, as part of one my modules at university, I was asked to read the play ‘Waiting for Godot’, written by Irish playwright and poet Samuel Beckett. After flicking through the bible-thin pages of my literature anthology, I found the play in question and began to read with that all too familiar excited sensation of beginning a new book. Within minutes however, that feeling – a feeling I would soon accept as the norm – was crushed.

The play was insane. Insane, ridiculous nonsense which would crush anybody’s spirits with its convoluted, pointless dialogue and dismal setting. Having said that though, it fitted perfectly into its namesake genre: ‘Absurdist’. It was a play that meant nothing, where the characters talked with speech which amounted to nothing. After slogging my way through Act 1, my brain couldn’t take any more of the gobbledegook, and I had to go cook some ‘brain food’ (fish fingers). Afterwards, lo and behold, I had a brainwave! Instead of reading the play, I could watch it, by the aid of the wonderful invention of YouTube. Once again I settled down and, strangely, just ten minutes later I found myself laughing at the performance on the screen. It’s amazing how words on paper come alive through performance. I’ve never been much of a dramatic, but sometimes for the magic to happen you really do have to see it with your own eyes.

Anyway, the next day my friends appeared to have discovered the same thing as me, and we returned to our Poetry and Drama class with renewed hope for ‘Waiting for Godot’. We soon began to understand in more depth why exactly this was classed as an ‘Absurdist’ play. Of course, then came the questioning of the author. Why would Samuel Beckett choose to write a play like this; a play that supposedly makes no sense no matter how deeply you look into the so-called plot? What were his influences? Was he insane, or just the subject of an era of hard times? The usual answers of course – religion, politics, and feminism. I won’t enter into a debate of exploring the intricate mind of Mr. Beckett now, but rather I will skip ahead a few days to when I visited home, and told my family about this ‘Absurd’ experience.

I happened to mention the play when I was home one weekend, and at once my mum’s ears seemed to prick up. Like Samuel Beckett she is Irish through and through and, given the pint-sized population of Ireland, that means that one way or another everybody in the Republic of Ireland knows each other. Saying that, there are now approximately four million people living there, but still, I should have guessed what was coming… “Samuel Beckett was related to my mother.”

Surprise didn’t quite cover my reaction. Although, simultaneous to my surprise swept into my mind the widely-used phrase among my Irish relatives, ‘Ireland is a village’ which rapidly turned the situation into something entirely possible. I am technically (and by technically I mean my great aunt’s something’s something, so I have approximately one percent Beckett blood) related to Samuel Beckett, the renowned novelist, playwright, theatre director and poet. Not a bad claim to fame I reckon. Plus, as I mentioned to my friend in the next poetry lecture, it probably explains why my imagination is slightly questionable at times!

***

Hope you enjoyed reading this blast from the past as much as I did!

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Advertisements

Poetry in Disguise

I am not a poet. I write stories – short, long, fragmented – simple pieces of stand alone text. I would even go so far as to say I almost dislike poetry. Almost, but not quite. There is a part of me that wishes to understand poetry with the same fervor and complex appreciation as other writers. I have tried, yet the meaning still alludes me. There are some poems I do enjoy, those that possess a simple layer of meaning before giving themselves up to the riddles of their creators. I have no particular genre preference, rather, I occasionally  happen across a poem and think ‘I get that. I can regard that to a level worthy of the subject matter in question.’

I studied literature at university for four years and, after several valiant attempts to understand a cacophony of poets from Byron and Wordsworth to Eliot and Tennyson, my relationship with poetry has settled into a mutual acknowledgement that the other exists only to be observed and credited from a distance. Of course, what naturally follows from the inability to read poetry, comes the frustrating difficulty to write this rhythmic literature. If I can’t read/understand poetry, I sure as hell can’t write it, can I? Very very rarely have I written a poem, other than ones required during my academic studies. I have to come to the conclusion that I just don’t write it, and couldn’t if I tried. However, over the past weeks (basically since beginning this blog) it has come to my attention that this fact may not be as accurate as imagined.

If you have read any of my other recent pieces, it might appear obvious that there is poetry lurking not so inconspicuously within the realms of The Fairytale Traveller. Only last week I wrote a piece called ‘I Found Him’, which is most definitely a poem, but bizarrely I didn’t realise until the piece was up on WordPress. I had written it as one short block in a word document, thinking it a simple stand alone piece, not really meant for a full story or anything else. It baffles me now, having added more of these short blocks of text from my computer to WordPress, that only once uploaded in a new format have I recognised that these pieces are in fact poetry! Ultimate facepalm. WordPress has given these pieces a new lease of life, taking them from dusty files in the depths of my computer memory and throwing them out to the world in an entirely new style. When writing these pieces, it simply had not occurred to me that I could or should write them in a different style to blocks of text. I genuinely have no idea why… I amaze myself sometimes.

It seems poetry is not as out of my depth as I thought. I think I will still enjoy stories more, but it heartening to know that I could write a poem if I had the inclination. Or perhaps the only times I will write poetry is when I don’t realise I am? Either way, I am glad about one thing, which is that those little, random blocks of text were never simply abandoned or downright bad stories. Instead they were pieces of poetry, waiting like tiny, priceless gems to be discovered and freed by someone who actually knew what they were looking for. It appears I must learn to open my eyes more, to see what actually lies on the paper in front of me!

“There are other worlds than these”

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve stumbled across the atom-sized portion of internet allocated to a mind full of fantasy-enthused, steampunk-enhanced curiosity. This is a mind prone to many a fantasy wandering, a mind which has travelled from Cair Paravel to the Land of the Dead, to Hogwarts and Westeros, and the Hungry Cities besides; a mind which has fallen down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass, and clawed its way back to Oz. This is a mind which fell in love with the Deepwoods and Sanctaphrax, and has since yearned for a skyship of its own to fly high amongst the clouds, to perhaps catch a piece of Stardust…

This mind belongs to Sarah, a name which means ‘Princess’, but in her reality should mean adventurer and explorer of worlds both material and fantastical. This is a travel blog, with a twist. For I have travelled indeed, to centuries past and milleniums not yet arrived, to times of terror and fright, love and happiness, war and peace, devastation and hope. Now, with my stories in tow, I hope to take my footprints over the globe, as Jim and Silver did, like Dorothy, in her silver slippers, stomping over the mountains like Frankenstein’s monster, and battling the endless skies like Cloud Wolf and Twig. It is time to don my boots, step away from the comfort and security of home, like Pip, and forge my own great expectations in the world.

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.” – Stephen King, The Gunslinger

My Long-Distance Love Affair With Urueña

It’s amazing the things one can stumble across on the internet. Yesterday I accidentally clicked on a link, and a webpage to a Spanish town opened. Now i’m not one to throw around the word ‘destiny’ very often, but after no more than a second’s glance my heart was fluttering with excitement. This beautiful place looked perfect. Perfect for my self, my soul, and my personality. We all have our dream houses and kingdoms (at least, I know for definite that I must have a house with a turret one day), yet this place immediately drew me in, and refused to let go until I had grown so overwhelmed that I decided I must visit!

The town is called ‘Urueña’, located in the province of Valladolid in Spain. It’s known as a ‘villo de libro’ or ‘town of books’, and has no fewer than 12 BOOKSHOPS. This was the first excitement trigger, and the second followed soon after as I learned that the whole town perimeter is covered with a MEDIEVAL CASTLE WALL. Being a book lover, fantasy lover, CASTLE lover, and language lover, the bells were already ringing out for me to visit this tiny town. I also happen to love calligraphy, music, and the colour yellow, so when I saw that there were workshops for calligraphy, as well as museums of music, books & writing, and stories, and a place of accommodation that looked to be painted from the rays of the sun itself, I fell for it within a heartbeat.

When I finally began to breathe again I decided to search for other ‘book towns’, and discovered that the very first established book town was in Wales. To this day it remains famous for its bookshops, and this too made me incredibly hyper. Living in the UK, the potential for me to visit the town in Wales was entirely possible! No planes or language barriers! Cheap(ish) and close(ish) to home! Nothing to hold me back except… ANXIETY. Yup. Reality arrived back in waves of anguish and disappointment, and the happy heart flutters turn to a tight ball of nerves in my chest. The problems began to arise, one after the other in rapid and overwhelming succession. The nearest train station was miles from the town; the journey itself would take half a day; the price was highly undesirable… a myriad of anxiety-inducing problems. The best option would be to drive. It would solve all of the above issues – I would be comfortable, quicker, and independent in a car. So that’s that. Except… here’s the clincher – I can drive, BUT, I have no car and also I am TERRIFIED of driving.

Learning to drive five years ago seemed like a great idea. But heading straight off to university afterwards and not driving ever again was probably not the best follow up. As someone with anxiety, the idea of operating a vehicle on a road with hundreds of others fills me with terror. Avoiding it for several years with the excuse of being close enough to walk everywhere was brilliant. I have pushed aside driving for so long, taking public transport when necessary (even though it took me a hell of a long time to overcome that obstacle), but now the opportunity to have a car again has arisen, and with every new place I fantasise about visiting… the necessity for a car keeps resurfacing.

I know this began about a paradisiacal town in Spain, but I realise to get there I must improve my confidence in becoming more independent. I have been lucky in that, for the other places I’ve been, I have had the luxury of friends and family with vehicles. Now it’s getting more difficult. As my friends follow their ambitions, my own dreams are being impeded by my reluctance to leave my comfort zone. So now I must make my choice. Push myself, grow, and become more independent and stronger in myself? Or give up now, and relinquish my travel aspirations?

Not really a choice in my eyes.

So I have set myself some targets. I will learn to drive again. I will drive to the book town in Wales, and celebrate my own independence as well as my love of literacy. Then I will travel to Urueña in Spain, and absolutely live for the sheer joy of my abilities and triumphs.

This blogpost was supposed to be me gushing over all of these beautiful book towns, but has ended up a sort of ‘pep talk’ to myself. That’s no bad thing though, as this blog is as much about encouraging myself as about sharing my stories with you all. I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey though, it would be wonderful to meet some like-minded people. Also, if anyone has visited Urueña or Hay-on-Wye (Wales), i’d love to hear from you!

“There are other worlds than these.”

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve stumbled across the atom-sized portion of internet allocated to a mind full of fantasy-enthused, steampunk-enhanced curiosity. This is a mind prone to many a fantasy wandering, a mind which has travelled from Cair Paravel to the Land of the Dead, to Hogwarts and Westeros, and the Hungry Cities besides; a mind which has fallen down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass, and clawed its way back to Oz. This is a mind which fell in love with the Deepwoods and Sanctaphrax, and has since yearned for a skyship of its own to fly high amongst the clouds, to perhaps catch a piece of Stardust…

This mind belongs to Sarah, a name which means ‘Princess’, but in her reality should mean adventurer and explorer of worlds both material and fantastical. This is a travel blog, with a twist. For I have travelled indeed, to centuries past and milleniums not yet arrived, to times of terror and fright, love and happiness, war and peace, devastation and hope. Now, with my stories in tow, I hope to take my footprints over the globe, as Jim and Silver did, like Dorothy, in her silver slippers, stomping over the mountains like Frankenstein’s monster, and battling the endless skies like Cloud Wolf and Twig. It is time to don my boots, step away from the comfort and security of home, like Pip, and forge my own great expectations in the world.

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.” – Stephen King, The Gunslinger