I won’t sign off anonymously this time. I expect you will therefore print this letter. I’m Aristophanes (yes, the Aristophanes). I wrote last year’s smash hit comedy, the Banqueters – I’m sure you’ve heard everyone still talking about it. I put a lot of creative effort into it - in fact, I even did the voice coaching and designed those hilarious trousers. The ladies are all over me, and my doorstep is mounded with myrtle and sardines. Life is good, and all because of my first play.
But here’s the rub. I’m having a hard time keeping it up. Of course, when I whipped it out from nowhere at the festival last year, I surprised everyone. I pulled it off, and it was huge – there’s one in the eye for my critics, I thought. But next time I could have a flop on my hands, and that would be very embarrassing.
Quite frankly, my so-called pride and joy (which everyone keeps asking to see) has got a life of its own. I’ve been trying to wrap it up, but the thing's all over the place.
The people of Athens are long overdue for another good time but I'm worried that I can't give all of them what they want simultaneously. The first time, it all happened so quickly. Now that I’ve done the business once, I need to take the entire audience somewhere unexpected. I want them to like it, but I also want to catch them by surprise! I’ve never had it so hard as now.
I used to feel like a natural – they were astounded, they said I was endowed like no other Athenian – and even now I could still be sitting on something huge. But I grapple with it all the time. They all think it's surging steadily like a towering masterpiece, but it feels more like a noose around my neck.
Is it too long, I ask myself? Too heavy? Too unusual? Is the complicated part in the middle with all the swords and trumpets going to scare them off?
I want to make the entire theatre resound again, but doing number two is a real strain. I don’t know whether to make a final push, or give up until next year. People are waiting impatiently. Opportunity is knocking on the door again, but I have heard ominous rumblings. If I do produce something, it could either blast off or sink like a stone. Please tell me how to relieve myself of this potentially disastrous burden.
Follow your instincts and write another play. Keep the hilarious trousers, but base it all on phalluses and bodily functions. Somehow I think you will find that easy.
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
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innuendo is, of course, Latin for 'with a nod' or, perhaps, 'with a wink', etc.
The story is told that a classics schoolmaster saw a production of an Aristophanes play c. 1950 and, surprised and shocked by its unfamiliar content, exclaimed, "Who put all of this smut in Aristophanes?"
I think we have found the answer here.
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