Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Arcadia" on the brain

Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia has been on my brain a lot lately. Well, considering that it has a permanent spot on my list of Favorite Plays Ever Written, it's never far from my thoughts, but this week it's been especially prevalent. Here's why:
  • As I blogged last weekend, I just reread Possession, and Arcadia is sort of its theatrical analogue.
  • It's getting produced in Washington DC, and I just read Terry Teachout's review of it. I think he's right that Hannah and Thomasina are the most important characters, and they're probably one reason it speaks to me--two intellectual women in one play!
  • It's also getting its first London revival, and here's the interview the Financial Times conducted with Stoppard in honor of that.
  • Finally, this week there was a post on the New York Times' "The Wild Side" blog that strangely recalls the themes of Arcadia. Its attempt to find the differential equations that describe the ebb and flow of a love affair reminded me of Thomasina's attempts to find equations that can describe the form of a leaf or a cloud. Like Arcadia, it invokes Isaac Newton, and acknowledges that Newton's concept of an orderly mathematical universe actually conceals "the seeds of chaos." And its intellectual geeking-out, its whimsy, and its focus on romantic relationships are all very Arcadiaesque.
And one unrelated link: apropos of my last blog post about what I'm learning at my job, I actually felt a thrill when reading "The Financial Page" in the latest issue of The New Yorker--it's all about corporate governance and what makes a good board of directors. "I know what he's talking about! This is what I do all day!" I thought.


tim said...

Not only is Arcadia one of my favorite plays, but a production of it in Austin about nine years ago is one of my favorite productions of any play that I've ever seen.

Not really sure why I felt compelled to tell you that, but, damn, I love that play....

Marissa said...

Dirty secret: I've never actually seen a production of "Arcadia"--never seem to have had the opportunity. I both want to and don't want to see it performed, since I'm afraid I've built it up too much in my head and will be disappointed...