Boom. February 2012

by Mike Doyle

                Jessica, Francesco, Kevin, and I divided up research topics after meeting and discussing boom. My duties were to investigate the playwright, evolutionary theory, and the bracketed terms of Barbara’s speech. I have not yet begun to do any extensive research regarding evolution, though I obtained three books that I will delve into soon: The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner, Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould, and an abridged version of Darwin’s The Origin of Species.

              I began my research by compiling the list of Barbara’s lines in brackets. I read the play and highlighted all of the terms contained in brackets. I then wrote them each down in my notebook as they occur in the play chronologically. The total number of words or terms in brackets is twenty-four. Currently, examining the words does not seem to produce any correlation between each of the individual words and the terms in brackets, but I question Kevin’s initial hypothesis regarding the dramaturgical function of these words. He thought that they may be words in the English language that do not exist in Barbara’s world, but when I was compiling the list I noticed that she does say some of the words contained within the brackets in lines that are not enclosed in brackets. For example, “Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!” This is also evidenced by the word “fucking” contained within brackets. If Barbara is unable to say “fucking” she would be unable to use the word “Motherfucker” on the next page outside of brackets. I think we should come together as a team and further investigate what we believe to be the dramaturgical function of the bracketed terms. The only explanation that I can currently come up with is that perhaps the fishy quality that we believe Barbara to possess causes her to easily forget words. I have heard that goldfish have a three-second memory, but I do not know if this is true and do not know if it applies to the Beaugregory Damselfish as well.

                Investigating Nachtrieb’s life as a playwright proved fruitful for obtaining knowledge regarding his process as well as for shedding some light on where I can look for more information regarding evolution. In an interview in American Theatre about boom Nachtrieb says, “Biology colors my worldview.” This affirms the importance of the science in the play. He also mentions that Stephen J. Gould’s Wonderful Life influenced him, specifically in regards to the idea of big evolutionary bursts as opposed to steady progressions. This could be helpful when we try to figure out how Barbara’s world came into being.

             Nachtrieb’s website provides more information. He was born and raised in San Francisco where he currently resides and works. As an undergrad at Brown University he came to “deepen his love for theatre, his love for biology, and to realize he was gay.” Brown was also where he began to write plays. He obtained his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State in 2005. Nachtrieb also occasionally acts. On Nachtrieb’s site I found a link to an article published in American Theatre about his process and how different theatre artists characterize his work. I think this would be a useful addition to my actor packet.


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