Alan,

Thanks again for your continued interest in this project, which has been very encouraging to me. This particular episode, I admit, is more silly/frivolous/humorous in tone than most of the others. Treatments of the Nativity do tend to be more upbeat and celebratory than treatments of other parts of the Bible, and of course Christmas is a more cheerful festival than Easter, for the obvious reason that it's about someone being born rather than someone being crucified, so if you're going to get some laughs in then it's a good opportunity. Funny Nativities have been done lots of times before, too; for example by Monty Python; but they're also a staple of primary school performances at Christmas time. So in some ways I'm being rather traditionalist in my approach to this part of the story; but apart from doing some jokes, I also wanted to make the point that whatever the occasion may be, however serious or significant or profound or whatever, human nature will still be human nature, and that's what governs our responses. Some people will miss the point entirely, some will properly get it, some will get it but it won't make a lasting impression on them, and some (like the Innkeeper) will simply work out as fast as lightning how to exploit whatever it is for financial gain. Which leads us to the wider question of whether human society is actually capable of taking on board important messages at all, or whether people are always too taken up with their own concerns to pay such messages more than fleeting attention. How much of this is down to human nature, and how much of it is down to the way society is structured, is open to debate. But if you look at our world and the way things are going... well, the best you can say is that things have to get pretty bad before people are prepared to pay attention and start changing their ways.

So, DIWO or DIM? You have to relate to the world in which you find yourself. You have to try to be moral and responsible. But I'm very DIM myself, by instinct. My creative practice in particular is all about doing my own thing. I'm like a sea snail ploughing along the ocean floor. Yet on the other hand I do find myself in collaborations with other people from time to time, or working on ideas that have been given to me by other people, and I find those experiences immensely valuable because they take me to places I never would have gone by myself. NetBehaviour has been a very enriching environment for me in that respect. In my working life, I work in a doctor's surgery in the NHS, which is a very collaborative environment (especially in my particular surgery), but also very bureaucratic, and we're constantly being dumped on by the powers that be, so it can be extremely frustrating at times - but also you're helping people, you're providing a genuine service to the community, which is profoundly rewarding. But all the same it can drive you mad; and when it drives me mad, which is quite often, my refuge is to come home and go back to whatever creative project I happen to have on hand - go back to being DIM.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that you have to have both, I suppose.

Edward


On 08/05/2019 02:18, Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour wrote:
Hi Edward, just read the last mystery play. Things having to do with the birth of Jesus make me uncomfortable in a different way than the OT makes me uncomfortable. The OT comes out of mideast kingdoms, wars, tribal legends, founding legends, flood legends; it's amazing a book could have been assembled at all. The NT stresses an entirely different, more 'Greek'??? world that collapses back into the usual power struggles; your innkeeper is all about that. I'm not sure how a census would have really been conducted by the way - what's meant by returning. In the mideast there were complex messenger systems everywhere, and messengers could have completed a census without disruption. It's hard to read through these texts back into the reality they seem to represent. Same with kings, angels, innkeepers, and the like. The shepherd slang made me also a little uncomfortable, creating a social division which I couldn't understand in a way because, perhaps not being English?, I couldn't source out the accent. I loved the play though and would really like to see the whole series produced, on radio? Television? Pantomime with commentary? Shadow puppets? It could go on for hours.

All this also reminds me of something I've been thinking about recently, lack of community, not DIWO, but DIM, Do it Myself, when others aren't around, aren't available. The pun DIM is deliberate; the danger is never seeing beyond oneself, a combination of depression, isolation, and solipsism, a condition of so many in the world today. We jump towards coops, but if the example I've had with housing, they can also be debilitating, political, stratified, financially enclaving, etc. - I've seen this in practice, Davis describes the same with HOA (home owners' associations) in California, etc. DIWO can be amazing, and DIM to me seems a lower stratum, a lower class of being as well. But it's common and - for example, prisoners, elderly people without families, refugees, etc. can end up with PTSD or other illnesses as a result. So it might be valuable to stress some sort of positive evaluation of DIM as well. Your play brings that into focus - Jesus was for wealth distribution, Sermon on the Mount, etc., but the results were Church hierarchies, pogroms, antisemitisms of all sorts, etc. - dissemination below, rigidity and exclusionary tactics/worlds above. (What I'm writing seems moronic, but ah well, it's late, we're here as usual by ourselves, take what might be useful from this, if anything.) Oddly, the innkeeper seems an uneasy combination of grouping and isolation, below Herod, Herod below Jesus, Jesus above or within (I've never been clear on this) or beneath Judaism, etc. etc.

Just some fuzzy thoughts, thanks!, Alan (writing late, we've been jammed recently)

On Sun, May 5, 2019 at 2:50 PM Edward Picot <julian.lesaux@gmail.com> wrote:

Nativity image

'The Doubter's Mysteries' are an attempt to write a short cycle of Mystery Plays - ie. plays based on Bible stories, like the Medieval Mystery Plays of York, Chester and Wakefield - from the point of view of a sceptical modern audience; an audience which either doesn't believe in God, or can't work out what he's playing at.
 
There are fourteen of these plays, and the ninth is now online: 'The Nativity of Jesus'.
 
http://edwardpicot.com/mysteries/09nativity.html (or for the full series so far, visit http://edwardpicot.com/mysteries)
 
- Edward Picot
http://edwardpicot.com - personal website



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