the wall dramaturgical packet

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  • 8/13/2019 The Wall Dramaturgical Packet



    Compiled by: Alicia Tycer

  • 8/13/2019 The Wall Dramaturgical Packet




    Based on The WallBy Jean-Paul Sartre

    Composer and Conductor: John M. KennedyLibrettist: Alicia Tycer

    Director/ Choreographer: Tanya Kane-Parry

    January 30, 31, February 1, 2013 at 7:30The State Playhouse

    California State University, Los Angeles

    Note on the origin of the title:

    Opera = work or deedOpera has traditions, conventions, and expectations that we want to avoid in ourtitle and performance.Not opera = mis-deed

    bad event, bad actoA musical = not good opera

    full of mischief

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    Jean-Paul Sartre: Biographical Moments 4

    Existentialism: What is it? 6

    Pre- Existentialism: Platos Cave 6Existentialist Philosophy 7Examples of Existentialism 8

    Theatre of the Absurd 9

    The Wall: The Short Story 10

    Summary and Style 10

    The Spanish Civil War 11

    Republicans vs. The Nationalists/ Fascists 11

    An Overview 14

    Literary and Artistic Responses to the War 16

    Federico Garca Lorca 16Ernest Hemingway 16Russian Constructivism 17Salvador Dal 18Pablo Picasso 18

    Character Influences 23

    The Doctor: 23Dr. Mengele 23Woyzeck 24

  • 8/13/2019 The Wall Dramaturgical Packet



    Jean- Paul Sartre: Biographical Moments

    (June 21, 1905 April 15, 1980)

    "The world itself destroyed Sartre's illusions about isolated self-determiningindividuals and made clear his own personal stake in the events of the time."

    Ronald Aronson Camus and Sartre

    1905- Born in Paris, the only child of Jean-Baptiste Sartre, an officer in

    the French Navy, and Anne-Marie Schweitzer.

    1929- While in college pursuing a degree in philosophy, he meets Simone deBeauvoir. He begins a lifetime open relationship with her and they become aleading intellectual couple. Her 1949 book The Second Sexis considered afounding text of modern feminism in which she writes One is not born, but ratherbecomes, a woman.''

    1939- Drafted into the French army, he is captured and is a prisoner of war fortwo years

    1941- Returns to German occupied France. He forms the "Socialisme et Libert"resistance group. In 1943, after the group disbanded, Sartre joined a writers'Resistance group in which he remained an active participant until the end of thewar.

    1943- Being and Nothingnesspublished

    1946- Existentialism is a Humanism published

  • 8/13/2019 The Wall Dramaturgical Packet



    1947- The Wall is first published. He also publishes his most famous play NoExit including the often quoted line: Hell is other people.

    1948- The Roman Catholic Church puts his works on the List of Prohibited Books

    1960- Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir meet with Che Guevara inCuba

    1961, 1962- Sartre supports Algerias right for self determination and separationfrom France. He was targeted for assassination with two bomb explosions at hisapartment building.

    1964- He publishes the autobiographical The Words. He is awarded the NobelPrize for Literature, but becomes the first to person to refuse the award,explaining: The writer must refuse to let himself be transformed into aninstitution. Le Monde

    1967- Helps organize the Russell Tribunal intended to expose U.S. war crimes inVietnam

    1968- Arrested for civil disobedience during the strikes in Paris, but is pardoned

    1980- Sartre dies of a lung condition.

  • 8/13/2019 The Wall Dramaturgical Packet


  • 8/13/2019 The Wall Dramaturgical Packet



    Existentialist PhilosophyExistentialism is the movement in nineteenth and twentieth century philosophythat addresses fundamental problems of human existence. The existentialists arenot a self-consciously defined homogenous school However most of them are

    interested in some of (the questions): What is it to exist? Does existence have apurpose? Is there an objective difference between right and wrong? Are we free?Are we responsible for our actions? What is the right sort of religious, political orsexual commitment? How should we face death? (20)Priest, Stephen. Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings. New York: Routledge, 2000.

    What does the term existentialism mean in its application to Sartres philosophy?To say that something exists is to say that it is. To state somethings essence isto state what it is. Understanding Sartres existentialism requires understandinghis thoughts on the relation between existence and essence. (Priest) Accordingto Sartre, human beings have no "essence" before their existence because no

    god exists. Therefore his famous quote goes: existence precedes essence".This makes for the base of his claim that since no one can explain their actionsnor their behavior by referring to human nature, they are "necessarily" completelyresponsible for all of their actions. Sartres famous quote for this is that, "We areleft alone, without excuse." www.jeanpaulsartre.org

  • 8/13/2019 The Wall Dramaturgical Packet



    Examples of Existentialism

    Sartres No Exit:

    Dont you feel the same way? When I cannot see myself, even though I touchmyself, I wonder if I really exist.Estelle, discovering that there are no mirrors in Hell, in No Exit, Act 1, Scene. 5.

    The Matrix:

    Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon - that's impossible. Instead,

    only try to realize the truth.

    Neo: What truth?

    Spoon boy: There is no spoon.

    Neo: There is no spoon?Spoon boy: Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only


    Keanu Reeves, The Matrix 1999

  • 8/13/2019 The Wall Dramaturgical Packet



    Roz Chast, The New Yorker

    Theatre of the Absurd

    Existentialist themes are included in Theatre of the Absurd, notably in SamuelBeckett's Waiting for Godot, in which two men divert themselves while they waitexpectantly for someone (or something) named Godot who never arrives. Inexistentialism, the individual's starting point is characterized by what has beencalled "the existential attitude," or a sense of disorientation and confusion in theface of an apparently meaningless or absurdworld. While they debate themeaning of human existence, they often do so in a humorous way, whichinspired some of the humor in the adaptation of The Wall.Solomon, Robert C. Existentialism(McGraw-Hill, 1974, pp. 12).

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    Patrick Stewart, Simon Callow, and Ian Mc Kellan in Waiting for Godot.Photograph: Neil Libbert

    The Wall The Short Story

    Summary and Style

    The Wall was first published in 1938 and then republished in a collection ofshort stories. Sartre wrote it in response to the growing power of the Fascists inSpain.

    The title refers to the wall prisoners are lined up against before being shot. Theprotagonist, Pablo Ibbieta, along with two others in his cell, is sentenced to death.He is offered a way out if he reveals the location of his comrade, Ramn Gris.Pablo refuses to cooperate until just before his scheduled execution, when,seeing no harm in it, he gives the authorities what he believes to be falseinformation on Ramn Gris' whereabouts. Ironically, it turns out that Ramn Grishas moved from his previous hiding place to the very spot where Pablo tells theauthorities he may be found. Thus Ramn Gris is shot and Pablo is, at leasttemporarily, spared from death.

    Existentialist writers such as Franz Kafka and Sartre often use prisons andsolitary confinement to tell their stories. Often, neither the reader nor theprotagonist is aware of what crime has been committed The story takes placeduring the Spanish Civil War in an old hospital being used by the SpanishFascist's to house prisoners. "The Wall" is told from a first person, stream ofconsciousness point-of-view, and uses existentialist philosophy, to illuminate the

  • 8/13/2019 The Wall Dramaturgical Packet



    follies of totalitarian governments like Fascism, and Nazism. Like mostexistentialist writers, Sartre chooses to tell the story of "The Wall" from the firstperson stream-of-consciousness point-of-view. We get dialogue from othercharacters, but the dialogue is filtered through the mind and thoughts of For more on Kafka, see:

    Ibbietas acceptance of death did him little good: existence still intruded on him.His friend was found by coincidence in the cemetery, and Pablos life was spared.No man can understand his own death or use it to solve the problems of his life.(Sartre argued That kind of attitude toward death, closely related to stoicismdoes not solve the problem. The destruction of that existence or the acceptanceof the termination of that existence offers no solution (24). Plank, William Sartreand Surrealism

    Robert Capas Falling Soldier: A Republican Fighter killed in action 1936,published in Life Magazine


    (July 18, 1936- April 1, 1939)

    Estimated 500,000 deaths

    The Republicans vs. Nationalis ts/ Fascists

    Democratically elected government Military led uprising

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    Supported by: Liberals Conservatives

    Socialists/ Communists upper classes

    International Brigade Catholic Church

    Stalins Soviet Union Hitlers Germany

    Mexico Mussolinis Italy


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