2012: YES! YES! YES!
Molly at Trades Hall
2012 YES, YES, YES!
MOLLY AT TRADES HALL
Director Brenda Addie
Molly is the force of feminine nature that changed the lives of millions of women around the world.
Yes! Yes! Yes! was an opportunity to get acquainted with her in her ordinariness, her (almost) full acceptance of what it is to live in a woman’s body, her joie-de-vivre.
A Molly for the 21st century, Brenda Addie's Molly is any woman and Everywoman – an enigma to her husband, Leopold, the toast of Dublin, and a frustration to herself - full of joy and dread about her libidinous body. Brenda Addie’s production was joyful and celebratory, and radically different from other productions, taking Molly out of bed and into her glamorous past, her present with its dilemmas, and her uncertain future as a fading beauty. And even imagining her in a male body.
Chapter 18 (referred to by its Homeric parallel as Penelope) is Joyce’s most accessible, and probably the best-loved chapter in Ulysses. Jung, who read Ulysses in order to treat Lucia Joyce, and ended up writing a book about Joyce and mining Ulysses for his work on archetypes, described it as ‘a string of veritable psychological peaches. I suppose the devil’s grandmother knows so much about the real psychology of a woman. I didn’t.’ It is not at all bold to claim that Molly Bloom has inspired decades of readers and thinkers, and changed how we think about women.
Joyce astonishingly introduces a main character in the final chapter, though of course, readers glimpse her in Chapter 4 in her own right, and she haunts not only her husband’s imagination, but also that of other Dubliners. To meet her via her own pre-sleep thoughts is to see her in very intimate detail and from her own point of view. Joyce’s particular form of stream-of-consciousness not only gives us the woman’s uncensored thoughts, but also allows for his comedic critique.
Molly’s torrent of words (nearly 25,000, organised in eight breathless, unpunctuated sentences) ranges over her 36 years of life, and is quite unlike the chapter which precedes it, and indeed not like anything else in Ulysses. Time is a flux, the past sometimes more real and alive than her present. She is simultaneously her girlish self, her wifely and motherly self, and the crone she fears becoming. Joyce even sees her in mythic terms, as the ground of being, as the embodiment of fertility. Her thoughts are non-linear; they organise themselves associatively; they don’t identify to which of the lovers she refers; and they don’t tell a consecutive narrative.
Translating this chapter into theatre is, as always with Joyce, a challenge. Finding the drama and tension in a bed-bound monologue takes one back to fundamentals: where and on what fronts is she in conflict with herself? What are the arcs of development that constitute the structure of the chapter? In developing the script, we’ve been moved by Molly’s fully realised female body and her sense of how it changes over time, and by how she negotiates her life-cycle. Molly knows both desire and its limits. Her body is not the only limit: she has to negotiate poverty, bourgeois respectability, and religious coercion. Her motivation to rebel and escape the prison of 7 Eccles Street is nothing short of heroic.
WHAT BLOOMSDAY'S PATRONS
HAD TO SAY
Working Towards a Better Tomorrow
THEIR UNSOLICITED RESPONSES TO YES, YES, YES!
Berlin eat your heart out - here comes Melbourne
What a triumph.
Brenda really created an unforgettable piece of theatre - and the set designer, Julia, was an inspiration.
The Mollies, one and all, were just fantastic - hard to pick out a star performer.
The knitting was a masterstroke,( interested to see that Uschi knits in the European wa!!). Stage presence, wow. All her performance was a knockout. I so related to her "been there done that!!” Suhasini, I just loved your portrayal of Mollie. Such a believable young love, but at the same time knowing!!! Jamaica, what a superlative command of the part, such dominance. I am so impressed.
The teamwork was great. Why do Uschi, and Jamaica, make me want to pack my bags and take off for Berlin in the morning. Drew, you are a star. Love to be in your brain whilst you are responding to this direction. Superlative.
This was the most wonderful piece of theatre I have seen since "Terminus" in terms of its pure theatricality.
Joyce is a great writer, but Brenda totally brought him to life in a contemporary sense in this production. I ask myself, why do we get dished up such a plethora of mundane theatre in Melbourne, imported a lot of the time at great expense. But for this homegrown theatre you have to be "in the know" to be able to access this kind of genius.
Hats off also to the writers, who so deftly wove Joyce's prose into this accessible masterpiece.
I don't know when I felt so alive.
THE BLOOMSDAY SEMINAR
at Library at the Dock,
JOYCE AND SVEVO
OUR SEMINARIAN: PROFESSOR JOHN GATT RUTTER
LEOPOLD (AND MOLLY) BLOOM: FROM TRIESTE TO DUBLIN’
A manufacturer of ships’ paint and anti-fouling compounds does not sound a likely candidate as a, or the, model for the Leopold Bloom whose day we celebrate on Bloomsday. Nor does the author of one of the great Italian novels of the twentieth century. Yet both together are embodied in a single person who for twenty years had been a humble bank clerk in the Austrian Italian city of Trieste and a ‘failed’ novelist. This double individual was called, not Ulysses or Bloom, but Ettore (Hector) Schmitz, born of Jewish parents, his father being a German speaker of proximate Hungarian Transylvanian origins. The unassuming Ettore Schmitz displayed a fatherly affection for the young Irishman, James Joyce, who was his English tutor and with whom he exchanged literary and humane insights, which changed the face of literature forever. An indefatigable dreamer, he also likened his wife’s long red-gold hair to a golden river, which was to turn into the Liffey in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
Chair: PHILIP HARVEY is well known to Bloomsday in Melbourne as a Joycean of distinction, a creator of scripts and oratorios, as a poet, and the poetry editor of Eureka Street.
Professor John Gatt-Rutter
John Gatt-Rutter is an Honorary Associate of La Trobe University (Melbourne) and the Italian Australian Institute, and a world authority on Italo Svevo, a close friend of Joyce in the formative years in which Ulysses was written. He has spent a lifetime in Italian studies, especially literary, including 17 years as Vaccari Professor at La Trobe University, and his publications include a literary biography of Italo Svevo (the pseudonym of Ettore Schmitz). He is now an Honorary Associate at La Trobe and at the Italian Australian Institute and is currently researching into life writing, especially biographies and autobiographies of Italian Australians, as well as translating Italian fiction.
THE BLOOMSDAY DINNER
Introduced and devised by James King
Reader: Silas James
Cafe La Notte, 140-146 Lygon St., Carlton