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Third
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Wendy Wasserstein

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Director’s Notes by Casey Stangl

Third

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drama

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Director’s Notes

by Casey Stangl, Director of the Guthrie Theater production

Copyright © pending in 2008

This very human tendency to place people and things into mental boxes reflects our attempt to control our increasingly chaotic and uncertain lives. But we do this at our peril. People are complex creatures. Each of us considers ourselves multifaceted. We hate being categorized by our gender or our job or political beliefs. Yet we do it to each other all the time. And most of the time we’re right – first impressions are often correct. But there’s that odd exception, that surprising person who defies our expectations and breaks out of the box we’ve put them in. The wise among us have their eyes and ears open to possibility and seek the whole truth, in all its complexities.

Topic:

Classification

text checked (see note) Nov 2008

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Third

Copyright © pending in 2008

Act OneScene 1

Laurie:
[...] Our job here is to renew our scholarship by eliminating any heterosexist, racist, or classist barriers. Rest-assured, this classroom is a hegemonic-free zone. What is most important to me is that you grapple with whatever ideas get put forth here and aren’t limited or reverential in your thinking. In other words I want you to speak up, don’t be afraid to contradict me or challenge the norms of the dominant culture. [...]

Here’s the thing about King Lear. Goneril and Regan were right! Lear was an old, foolish, narcissistic man whose personal tragedy is overrated and the good daughter, Cordelia, was a masochistic simp.

Topic:

Scholarship

Scene 2

Emily:
My sister Zooey is not going to stop this war from happening because she and her girlfriend went to a candle-light vigil holding up a piece of oak tag that they wrote on with magic markers.

Laurie:
You’re too young to be so cynical. At least Zooey’s confronting the real world and voicing her opinion.

Emily:
Mother, Zooey’s making cheese in Vermont. That’s not exactly confronting the real world.

Laurie:
She’s making organic cheese. She’s not just making cheese. That’s very different.

Topic:

Liberalism

Scene 3

Nancy:
[...] I was up all night buying one of those complete collections of the greatest hits of the fifties, sixties and seventies. I plan to leave them in a time capsule for my niece with a note. “Darling, when you listen to the song ‘Honey, Oh, Sugar-Sugar, you are my candy girl and you’ve got me wanting you’ I want you to know that it informed all my major life-choices.”

Topic:

Music

Third:
[...] You’ve got an amazing reputation, Professor Jameson.

Laurie:
I do.

Third:
Oh sure. You make Professor McNealey look like Walt Disney. I mean, you’re the gender-bender. You’re the man!

Laurie:
I’m the woman.

Third:
Aren’t you categorizing yourself?

Laurie:
I hope what I am teaching is a little more complicated than that. I’m not interested in shock value or spoof.

Third:
Me neither. It’s like wrestling. If you always stay in the same category, you never grow. Personally, I know I’d be much more at home at a big state school. Here I’m considered practically a retro-heterosexual sociopath. But at least it’s a challenge for me. That’s why I came to this college. Every other day, someone here is coming out of the closet as a Vegan anti-globalization bisexual who is currently experimenting with the opposite sex.

Act TwoScene 6

Laurie:
I was your age in 1969. Most of my ideas were crystallized at that time. So this place is the essence of a person who hasn’t challenged their perspective in thirty years. My thinking has become as staid as the point of view I fought to overrule.

Topic:

Age

text checked (see note) Nov 2008

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