TL Question #8 - Urgent Nows or Why Should I's?

by Stephen Jeffreys

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TL Question #8 - Urgent Nows or Why Should I's?

Unread postby Liz » Mon Dec 12, 2005 10:35 am

pg. 75 “This is what I envy in you stage people. The notion that something HAS TO BE and within the next few seconds. You make time seem so important. That's why you do it. You're so frightened of what happens when there's no clothes to change NOW, no entrance to make NOW. But that is not what life is, it isn’t a succession of urgent NOWS it’s a listless trickle of ‘Why should I’s?’ That’s why nothing that happens on a stage is true. Do you understand that, Mr. Harris?”

Do you think Johnny was able to relate this passage to his profession? To his life? Can you?


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Unread postby Boo-Radley » Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:42 am

Lizbaba this is a hard one. It will take much reflection, I'll try and tackle it and the question 7 tonight.

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:46 am

He answered a question from one of the interviewers at the premiere didn't he with that quote so I guess he does relate to it or agrees with it and thought it was a great line.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Dec 12, 2005 12:20 pm

Well, life isn't scripted is it? On the stage you know when to enter and exit and what action to take next. In real life you must constantly make decisions and live with the consequences, there is no playwright to bail you out of a bad decision. So instead of saying I must do this or that now you have to think why should I or or shouldn't I do this thing?

There are a couple of ways to relate that I can see how that would relate to the acting profession. When you are playing a character there is a set storyline for that character and the actor does not decide what the character says or does next. Not that he has no input but it's not real life, acting is lying as Johnny says. The other consequence for actors would be that the decisions they make, at least in their careers, will be on display to the general public for better or worse so that decision would be weighed heavily. (At least in most cases... :lol: )

GG, I read somewhere that this was his favorite line from the play and I believe he had t-shirts made up for the cast and crew with this saying on them.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Unread postby luvdepp » Mon Dec 12, 2005 12:44 pm

I think that's the gist of it DITHOT. An actor has the whole story line right there in front of him. He has no need to ponder his actions and worry that they will be right or wrong. He just follows the script as it is written. I know that there is room for interpretation of how to act the part, but not the actions that affect the story. But in real life, we are constantly trying to anticipate just how the action that we take now could affect our future. And then there's the second-guessing about if we have made the right decision. We don't have a script all written out for us on what direction our life is going to take. I think Johnny can relate to that because his life has gone in directions that he couldn't foresee at all. And having your life so much in the public eye has put his actions and decisions out there for all to see.
"So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself, who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed." ~HST~

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Dec 12, 2005 2:06 pm

Great insights so far, Noodlemantras. Boobaba, it is a tough question, and I'm still pondering it.....
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Mon Dec 12, 2005 2:30 pm

this line here
That’s why nothing that happens on a stage is true. Do you understand that, Mr. Harris?”

sounds very much like what Johnny is always saying about acting being lying.

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Unread postby SamIam » Mon Dec 12, 2005 7:36 pm

I would have to agree that life isn't scripted, but sometimes I think it feels like it is. It's like Shakespeare said All the world's a stage. Somehow though I don't think everyone is fake, but sometimes we act fake to get what we want and I think that's what that means.

Johnny relates because a movie character is scripted and real life isn't. John knew that and he refused to act phony. He wanted to be a real person not a fake person. The way I see it is that you should act like yourself and not act different around everyone but in the same sense you are not always comfortable with all kinds of people and have to build up to acting completely like yourself.

That's my two cents.

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Unread postby suec » Mon Dec 12, 2005 7:57 pm

I can see why Johnny would be able to relate it to his profession because he so often has referred to acting as lying. He refuses to place too much importance to it. There is something of that in R's comment when he says "you stage people. The notion that something HAS TO BE" which could be knocking the drama queen mentality.
As for life R. is painting a much bleaker picture, I think. He says life is a " listless trickle of 'Why should I's". He sees no point to it at all, no reason, or value, whereas in the theatre, things appear to be much more significant and urgent - but that is an illusion, art, not nature. It is a theme introduced earlier in the play on p32:
"I am the cynic of our golden age... Life has no purpose, it is everywhere undone by arbitrariness: I do this, but it matters not a jot if I do the opposite. But in the playhouse, every action good or bad has its consequence; drop a handkerchief and it will return to smother you...here in this theatre we can pretend that our lives have meaning. But the pretence only holds if we are given the truth."
But by p75, there is no escapism, no pretence. He is faced with the supreme irony of an actor playing himself and the contrast between the stage and life could hardly be drawn more sharply.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Dec 12, 2005 8:28 pm

suec wrote: But by p75, there is no escapism, no pretence. He is faced with the supreme irony of an actor playing himself and the contrast between the stage and life could hardly be drawn more sharply.


Very good point, Suec. He brings that out in the lines just prior to the one quoted for this question.

I had another thought today about this. I think that life "is not a succession of urgent NOWS, it's a listless tricle of 'Why should I's?'" is the motto of an iconoclast. He's always the rebel. I think it is also resistance to the director/producer--at least certain ones--or what the audience wants. But I also think both Johnnys question why's in general.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby gilly » Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:20 pm

Sorry Liz,can't get past the pic... :dunce: :cloud9:
Life is beautiful.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:55 pm

SamIAm wrote: Johnny relates because a movie character is scripted and real life isn't. John knew that and he refused to act phony. He wanted to be a real person not a fake person. The way I see it is that you should act like yourself and not act different around everyone but in the same sense you are not always comfortable with all kinds of people and have to build up to acting completely like yourself.

That's my two cents.


And a fine :twocents: it is! What you are saying speaks to the truth seeker in both men.



suec wrote: "I am the cynic of our golden age... Life has no purpose, it is everywhere undone by arbitrariness: I do this, but it matters not a jot if I do the opposite. But in the playhouse, every action good or bad has its consequence; drop a handkerchief and it will return to smother you...here in this theatre we can pretend that our lives have meaning. But the pretence only holds if we are given the truth."

But by p75, there is no escapism, no pretence. He is faced with the supreme irony of an actor playing himself and the contrast between the stage and life could hardly be drawn more sharply.


Rochester's words beginning on the bottom of pg.74 and continuing at the top of pg. 75 point out the differences between the character in the play and the real Rochester as he is now and it is obvious that he is well aware of the reality.

His line you reference that "here in this theatre we can pretend that our lives have meaning. But the pretence only holds if we are given the truth", seems to speak to his disillusionment with his life and perhaps he sees life as the "endless trickle of why nots" because at this point he feels nothing he ever did in life really mattered. Stream of conciousness thinking going on here...
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Dec 12, 2005 10:06 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote: His line you reference that "here in this theatre we can pretend that our lives have meaning. But the pretence only holds if we are given the truth", seems to speak to his disillusionment with his life and perhaps he sees life as the "endless trickle of why nots" because at this point he feels nothing he ever did in life really mattered. Stream of conciousness thinking going on here...


That really makes a lot of sense as far as Wilmot goes. I don't think Johnny feels that way about himself now, but he may have during the GG period.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Dec 12, 2005 10:09 pm

Liz wrote:
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote: His line you reference that "here in this theatre we can pretend that our lives have meaning. But the pretence only holds if we are given the truth", seems to speak to his disillusionment with his life and perhaps he sees life as the "endless trickle of why nots" because at this point he feels nothing he ever did in life really mattered. Stream of conciousness thinking going on here...


That really makes a lot of sense as far as Wilmot goes. I don't think Johnny feels that way about himself now, but he may have during the GG period.


I agree, I don't think Johnny would at this point in his life at all. I think we are seeing Wilmot at the end of his life and in the depth of his ilnesses and he knows it.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Raven » Mon Dec 12, 2005 10:27 pm

One of the reasons I haven't been weighing in with my 2 cents is because I feel that the Earl was an alcoholic and in my mind that changes so much of who you are. So much of what he said was I feel the alcohol talking. I feel that when you are in an altered state (is that PC??) your senses are not as keen. I think he was brilliant in alot of ways, but his own life seemed more important then the lives of his family and wife. And let me add that his sickness from VD and the mercury poisoning would not help in the slightest. I am not saying that if you are an alcoholic you are a bad person. Just that you may react differently to a situation then if you did not drink. Of course this is my own experience talking......

thanks so much DITHOT and Liz for all the information, it is incredible!

Raven
"In my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: the stupid
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John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester in The Libertine by Stephen Jeffreys


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