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Showing posts from September, 2012

“A mote of dust suspended in a sun beam”: Optic Nerve’s PALE BLUE DOT

The cinema has a grand tradition of science fiction that is cherished and respected, lauded and revered. The genre seems quietly overlooked by theatre. Where are the great plays about scientific discovery? Where are the great plays of specualtive fiction? Please, if you know of any, recommend them to me. It’s certainly a wish of mine to try my hand at science fiction on stage.
Optic Nerve’s Pale Blue Dot is a mix of fact and fiction – an ode to science, which reveres its grandeur while also poking and proding its humanity. A collage of stories about the infinity of space and the limits of photography and art at capturing such epic majesty.
“Pale Blue Dot” is a photograph taken by the Voyager space craft in 1990, a photograph of Earth not taken for strict scientific purposes but as a picture of perspective. Carl Sagan fought to have the photograph taken, just as early astronauts postponed sleep for mere minutes of “sight seeing” in space – human need over scientific necessity.
The play fi…

Quoting himself, badly: Aaron Sorkin and The Newsroom

A long time ago, I was told not to use a famous quote to open a play – because I was setting myself up for comparison and dooming myself to failure. Quote Shakespeare or Proust or Freud, but do it somewhere in the middle, where it rolls off the tongues of your characters and not as the first impression the audience has of your work.





Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom doesn’t open with a quote as such, but it does – just as his Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip did 6 years ago – open with a Network-like “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” scene, setting up comparisons between Sorkin and Paddy Chayefsky, as well as between the two narratives.
For me, though, the problem here is not this direct comparison but the shorthand way that Sorkin is telling and re-telling stories. Two later episodes (“Amen” and “The Greater Fool”) climax with Sorkin repurpsoing other people’s endings to finish his stories – as if acknowledging the lifts from Rudy and Oliver Twist is enough to absolve h…