Struggles of an Artist: Triestine Joyce

Triestine Joyce is based on the life of James Joyce who is an Irish poet and novelist. The true identity of the character that plays James Joyce was not clearly given as “The James Joyce” in the plot but we are informed by the brochure provided for the audience. Play started in the middle of an event only cover a small, specific are of James Joyce’s life. There were diversity in the experience and age of the people who played their role in the play. Donald Bruce Randall wrote and directed the play. He also played the character that stand for James Joyce in the play. Donald Bruce Randall is experienced in drama. He wrote and directed his plays before just as he did this time. The play took place in the Bilkent University’s Performing Arts Faculty.
            As a brief summary of the plot, story starts with the debts of James Joyce and problem of being unable to pay them. Jim plays a little mind game on creditors and buys himself some time to find more money. Afterwards, story concentrates on the Jim’s relationship with his brother and girlfriend. Then, the day comes that James Joyce finds a solution for both being published and paying his debts.
            The rhythm in the play did not change frequently but the rhythm was neither too slow nor too fast. But there were some parts where the subtext veils the original plot. As if there were more events happened in the play that we failed to observe or missed them. This situation is also a well known narration that helps play to draw audience’s attention. On the other hand, there was another narration style in the play that called “in media res”. “In media res” simply suggest that the play starts in the middle of an event that audience have no clue what is going on but as the play moves on storyline becomes whole.

            In terms of characters, Jim’s nature really fits to the mood of James Joyce as it is a mad genius. As a theatrical character, Jim showed us how cunning James Joyce was. On the other hand, Nora played beautifully but she was more of a round character as the plot requires her to be. It was hard to predict the next sentence or the move of her. In most of the scenes Nora completed the characteristics of the Jim as it did in real life. However, his brother Stannie always represented the ordinary people who mocks on artist and never understands what they are doing. Stannie always gave the most cliché answers that we today still hear about everything. But other characters are in the play almost always talked in Italian and make everyone question themselves that “is it a surprising fact that we do not know Italian?”
            I recall that there were two major tirades in the play which are delivered both by Jim. Those tirades were the most exciting parts of the play; because a long speech as we observed in the play always gives an inside idea about the author’s thought in the matter. It is always nice know how the play shaped in the mind of the creator of the play. Both two tirades successfully touched on philosophical issues as if they are the words of “Grim French Naturalists” that they mocked on stage. The first tirade was about the nature lending money. Jim once again showed how cunning James Joyce was and gave Italians a good long speech where creditors left confused. The second tirade was about father figure and its relation with the god. It was rather existentialist than theistic. Whole speech concentrated on correlation of god and our blood-bonded fathers. There were other outstanding ideas that presented during the play such as “Women always try to teach everyone” and “the real world and art cannot co-exist” but those ideas are failed to be expanded.

            In terms of setting, there were some little and totally understandable mistakes such as lighting the stage and delay in the music. The performance of the people on the stage is limited with the opportunities and luxury that has been provided by the produces and the production crew. Knowing that, it was completely understandable for music to be heard with a few seconds delay. On the other hand, lighting the stage is a more important issue than the music. There were two big bulbs as a primary source of lighting with splash shields on each side and a little lamb on the table. That little lamb perfectly did it job and made us understand the depth of the stage and the true distance between the characters. The problem was the main (key) lights at the back of the stage in my humble opinion. I have no problem about having the main light from back of the stage but that specific light should not reach or directed at the audience. If it is somehow lights the audience, people might not follow easily what is going on in the stage because direct light has blinding effect on human eye. On the other hand, light that comes from the back of the stage crates a dreamy look and make all actors and actresses silhouette and make all good details in the stage hard to remark for audience.

            To sum up, I found the play really exciting and beautiful except for the little details in setting. In most cases it hard for me like and appreciate a good play because I am not really into drama. It was a pleasant thing to see my friends and instructor on the stage. I believe James Joyce would be pleased if he can see this play and his own portrait as a character, cunning and clever that created by Donald Bruce Randall.

                                                                                                     Yiğithan Ersoy ELIT II

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