Father Jack Production Diary: the layout

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So, and I’m and to start this first pass through the Dancing at Lughnasa script by breaking it down into the five scenes Jack is in. They aren’t technically scenes, as being a modern-style play, it is divided only into two acts without scene divisions. It would be easier to discuss it by breaking the script down into French Scenes, but I am not going to do that, so I’ll just number them for myself.

  • Tableau: The play opens with a tableau. Jack is resplendent in his uniform. No lines.
  • Jack’s First Scene: He wanders in and out, confused and disoriented.
  • Jack’s Second Scene: He is stronger now, and recognizes his sisters, at least somewhat, although he is still having difficulty with language. He tells the story of his departure and his first story of his time in Ryanga. When he leaves the room, there is a sort of mime scene of him in the garden that ends the first Act.
  • Jack’s Third Scene: He is strong (some time has passed) and jocular, and knows where he is and who he is with. This is his longest scene, with a longish monologue, mostly about Ryanga.
  • Jack’s Fourth Scene: This is brief-ish and cheerful. His sisters patronize him, but fondly.
  • Jack’s Last Scene: An extension of the previous scene, but Jack has gone out to change clothes and comes back in his old uniform.
  • Tableau: The play closes with another tableau, of course. This isn’t really another scene, as (from the stage directions, anyway) Jack doesn’t leave the stage before the tableau, but just moves into it from his previous position.

That’s the lot of them. It’s perhaps sixteen pages out of 75. Not a big part, but juicy. 78 lines, altogether, if I am counting correctly, which I may not be, and many of those lines long and rambling. He mostly interacts with Rose and Maggie and Chris, and peripherally with Agnes, and then has a brief scene with Gerry toward the end—he’s not just a supporting character but a kind of symbolic character, and although there’s a character arc, of sorts, with his recovery from mental confusion (tho’ the audience is told he dies within a year after the end of the play, so his physical recovery can’t be too convincing) his relationships with the other characters don’t undergo the sort of growth and change that a less symbolic character’s might. Still, you can’t play a symbol.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

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