Drama Post 3: Resolution or Lack Thereof

Admittedly, I wrote my last blog post not as a way to write my death scene, but as a way to understand my dilemma when writing my death scene. The importance of that and my breaking free from what I called the Pinter box is the writing that must take place to finish my play. I figure I’m two (maybe three) scenes from its completion: a middle scene that heightens the quirkiness in the relationship between the main character Henry and his girlfriend Julia, and a final scene that in some way remarks on the death of Henry—or doesn’t; I’ve yet to decide. Obviously, my quandary is more about my end scene than the middle, mostly, again, because of feeling the requirement to treat a death as something weighty, something that should be remarked upon because of its severity and its assumed long-lasting ramifications for characters. However, considering my last post—looking into the importance of contextual rhythms for Pinter—as well as some of the themes in my play—an individual (Henry) trying to make his mark on the world—I wonder if it wouldn’t be more accurate to go the other way with the resolution. More specifically, there would not be one. More specifically than that, there would not be a resolution for any characters, as Henry didn’t make a lasting impact on anyone. Logically, one could assume the tenants of Henry’s apartment would momentarily sympathize with the “tragic” situation, but this would only be momentary—and pretty false at that. And in that sense, a more true representation of life.

Analyzing this from the perspective of characterization, this is exactly the opposite of what Henry desires in his final monologue before he jumps to his death:

Across his cheeks it [the wind] rushes. Not like a bullet, but not not like a bullet. It’s hard to explain, but the writer will get it right. Will he name the wind? Should he? Like his own children speeding past him as he shrinks in height and significance, a speck behind the specks of ink. He is his description, they will say the next day. In the papers. About the papers. The wind pushing the words through people’s hands and minds, blowing it through their hair, transcending form about them, them transcending with it. It pulling their being with it, everything they are and ever will be, every fiber pulling into—into a—smile.

If you can get past the fact that I quoted my own scene, clearly, Henry conflates the writer and himself, melding the reporting of his death with the making of it. So, an ending that ignores him, as he’s been ignored throughout the play, is fitting and sad and somewhat ironic. What still remains a mystery is what to do with Julia. She only ever interacts with Henry, and seemingly leaves him to his suicidal thoughts on the roof, kissing him goodbye before he leaps. So, what’s her stake? More specifically, what’s her role in Henry’s death? My fiancĂ©e
claimed that she didn’t think Julia was real, and I kind of like this idea. However, I don’t want to write her as pure apparition. I don’t want Henry to be crazy. I want him, as well as Julia, to be a product of his context. So, even if she is or isn’t real, her stake in Henry’s death must be her stake in the world of the play: only a whimsical one, leaning on the beauty in the mundane and in the phrasings that make the mundane beautiful. In this sense, a resolution for her mustn’t extend much beyond reaffirming a happy ambivalence. Perhaps, she, though much closer to Henry than his loud neighbors, is nearly just as emotionally distant. So, what must physically/logistically become of her if she has only been defined in terms of Henry—and those terms are slippery at best?

In order to attempt to answer this and more general questions about the end scene, I have a short list of inclinations:
1.     The scene must at least partially take place on the street in front of the apartment building that Henry leapt onto. Because his death scene ends slightly ambiguously, the street will affirm Henry’s suicide, and will also allow for a space for characters to remark on the death. Or, as I’ve said before, they won’t, thus playing with the audience’s expectations of the treatment of death and, considering Henry’s obsession with it, life.
2.     Julia will need to interact with someone. Because all the other scenes are built through her ability to manipulate dialogue (and people through dialogue), there needs to be another body present to receive this energy. Whether there will be any manipulation is still up in the air, though I assume there will have to be hints of it, considering Julia’s character. On a side note, I’ve been toying with the idea of not having the other individual remark to Julia until the end of the scene in order to play with the idea of her being an apparative force. Again, though, who this individual should be is not clear. He/she could be a new character, though that seems like a cop out, considering how self-enclosed Pinter plays tend to be. Perhaps Neighbor 2 would be a good candidate, as she is a funny but frustrated character. It stands to reason that she could be manipulated as well.
3.     The scene needs to end dryly. Perhaps remarking about weather or what’s on tv (maybe a western, as remarked about before; maybe Hollywood Square, considering the set layout), as those mundane pieces of life are the only tangibility in characters’ dialogue.
4.     I’m not sure if I want to utilize the Hollywood Squares-like structure of the stage, but it would be interesting. Perhaps Neighbor 1 could yell out a window to Neighbor 2. Or she could yell down to Julia at the end, leaning over the edge of the square, much like Henry did on the roof.

And that’s it so far. Obviously, I’ve tied the gravity of the final scene to how Julia is perceived. I hope I’m not writing myself into another Pinter box. But because I’ve decided (yes, now I’ve decided) not to speak of Henry’s death, I believe I can keep the dialogue more ambiguous and chase the comedy of the absurd again. Perhaps the menace will come with not speaking about Henry’s death but subtly promising another to come. Perhaps the menace will be in the characters’ frivolous conversation and a lack of resolution.

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