Little Willow (slayground) wrote,
Little Willow

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Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

I recently read Arcadia, a two-act play by Tom Stoppard which shifts back and forth between the early 1800s to present-day to reveal events that happened at the same location, the same home, in two different centuries. In the opening scene, we meet a tutor and his pupil in 1809; in the next scene, we are introduced to modern-day inhabitants of the house as well as two others who are interested in researching the previous occupants. Each character has a clear voice and storyline, and as those characters interact and those storylines intersect, they become even clearer and stronger. By the time the final scene comes around, things are overlapping, but instead of being confusing it's very easy to distinguish between the now and then, and the parallels are easily drawn between the two time periods and the characters, each trying so hard to find and share their personal truths.

Reading this play has made me want to see it or appear in it, naturally, the feeling I always get when I read and enjoy a script, and I definitely enjoyed this play. Some of my favorite passages were rather poetic, so I thought I'd share them here today, as it is Poetry Friday.

From Act I, Scene 1:

Thomasina, a 13-year-old girl: "You cannot stir things apart."
Septimus, her tutor: "No more you can, time must needs run backward, and since it will not, we must stir our way onward mixing as we go, disorder out of disorder into disorder until pink is complete, unchanging and unchangeable,and we are done with it for ever. This is known as free will or self-determination."

Later in the same scene:

Thomasina: "If you could stop every atom in its position and direction, and if your mind could comprehend all the actions thus suspended, then if you were really, really good at algebra you could write the formula for all the future; and although nobody can be so clever as to do it, the formula must exist just as if one could."

From Act I, Scene 3:

Thomasina: "Each week I plot your equations dot for dot, xs against ys in all manner of algebraical relation, and every week they draw themselves as commonplace geometry, as if the world of forms were nothing but arcs and angles. God's truth, Septimus, if there is an equation for one like a bluebell, and if a bluebell, why not a rose? Do we believe nature is written in numbers?"

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