Thursday, June 23, 2011

OMF on Radio Literature!

In case you missed it live, listen to OMF actors on WORT. They did a wonderful job!

Monday, June 6, 2011



Ah, Eugene. Enemy of bees everywhere.

Eugene is one of those conundrums of personality who confuse even themselves. The strange, intricate development of his character, and his attempts to figure out what is going on with himself are intriguing, and for much of the book his morals seem slightly…off.

When you first meet Eugene he is a lazy, unmotivated, and altogether an indifferently selfish person. His comments and biting sense of humor were endearing to me as a reader, but I am quite aware that other people have differing opinions on that point, so I will not go too far into that.

Again, as with Bradley, nearly as soon as you meet Eugene, he meets Lizzie. It is interesting that the turning point for their characters is so early on in their respective stories, many authors like to get a long buildup to establish the character before they began to change.

Eugene is very interested in Lizzie. That is probably as far as his emotions get at this point, that of being interested. However, remembering that Eugene is lazy and indifferent, this should probably alert some people’s character development radars. And the fact that he is interested is interesting even to himself. He has a strange way of looking at himself-he is very analytical of his own personality, to a degree, and seems to want to understand why he feels things, especially if they are different than before. But then, he’s lazy and tends to be indifferent if things start to look too confusing.

Not so with Lizzie. In fact, Eugene goes to great lengths to figure out what is going on with his feelings regarding her. He continues to lend help in the form of education and an interest in her affairs and life, to the point that Lizzie is able to fall in love with him. Eugene, however, remains confused and skeptical of himself and his motivations until Lizzie disappears, and then he sort of gets his act together and at least decides to do something. Unfortunately, his morals then begin to be in question.

Eugene has tried to do nice things for Lizzie. He has attempted to be a kind person. Unfortunately, all the things he does are also a little selfish. He wants to have her educated because he likes her-and indeed, there is a strange thing going on with Lizzie’s education. Her father disapproved of it and now the two men interested in her are fighting over who gets to have her indebted to them for education, as if that settled everything.-

Back to Eugene. He is having her educated because he likes her, not because he has strong moral feelings about educating the poor. He is extending the offer to Jenny so as not to be exclusive to Lizzie and therefore seem ungenerous. And he even guilt-trips Lizzie to some extent (especially earlier on) into agreeing with these things. However, it’s a learning process, and he is really trying. to be nice. He’s just not very good at it yet.

After Lizzie is traumatized by her brother and Bradley Headstone, and warns Eugene off (who was coming to walk home with her-how late is this taking place?) he is confused, bemused, and a bit irritated. And then she disappears, triggering a decision on his part, and also throwing his whole character very close to ‘horrible person’ territory.

Eugene is still moody and gloomy, but now with a sort of plan or scheme working in his mind. Considering his unmotivated person at the beginning of the book, this is a huge step in change for his character. He broods over Lizzie’s disappearance, and decides to find her. When trying to cajole Jenny into giving up the address fails, he leaves. Coincidentally, however, he is followed by Mr. Dolls, Jenny’s drunken father who only wants threepennorthsrum and will do anything to get it. Interestingly enough, Eugene wants to find Lizzie and will do anything to find her. This must be fate. Awkward, dangerous fate.

The next part of this storyline is very much concerned with the bribery of Mr. Dolls by Eugene and then the infamous Bradley stalking Eugene plot. Eugene behaves very, very badly. The romantic in people may want to excuse him for what he does here, but his love for Lizzie is not in any way enough to excuse him for this, considering he didn’t HAVE to bribe Mr. Dolls with so much rum, and he didn’t HAVE to torture Bradley Headstone to the brink of insanity. In fact, he found the whole Bradley thing kind of amusing, and while he expresses a little regret about the whole Mr. Dolls deal, he doesn’t really seem to do anything to remedy it. He has Lizzie’s address at the end of it all, and that is enough for him.

This, morally, is a problem. Eugene is not crazy, he does not have Bradley’s excuse. He is not madly in love either, though he’s getting there. None of the usual excuses work here, because Eugene is still in the middle of figuring out his own feelings and consequently while his mind is a grey area, his motivations become a grey area and then bad moral things happen.

Somehow, Eugene is not quite a bad person. But he is a VERY MORALLY QUESTIONABLE one.

The rest of this is pretty simple. He finds Lizzie. He is stalked by Bradley. He and Lizzie have a sort of confrontation in which Lizzie just keeps telling him to GO AWAY and he keeps saying BUT WHY and she finally manages to make him sort of promise to leave her alone (though at this point whether or not he means it is also questionable). He soliloquizes, and just as he is finally getting to the heart of things and maybe going to start to figure things out, he is attacked (BRUTALLY, IN A STROBE LIGHT. IT’S AWESOME). and interrupted in his musings. This might be a good thing for his character, though, because considering his personality, it might have taken him forever to just decide to marry Lizzie and be done with it. (if he ever did, which is also doubtful.) As it happens, the attack and aftermath make him think faster than usual, probably because there is a very good chance that he will die.

It is strange, but in my humble opinion, Eugene’s deathbed choice to marry Lizzie is his moment of heroism. By choosing to marry her he is effectively rejecting society (oh the wonderful ‘Tippins’ speech), and also his respected father, and breaking lots of social rules and in general having a right good time being rebellious and that sort of thing. Not to mention he’s married to his one true love and they’re happy and all that. Also, he isn’t dead. Because she saved him! How cute is that?

Well, it’s NOT cute to Bradley Headstone. But we can thank him for being integral to Eugene and Lizzie’s relationship and the person who basically bashed Eugene into marrying Lizzie. So it all works out in the cause and love and justice or something.


When I consider Eugene and Bradley in light of these musings, the first thing that comes to mind is not that flattering to either of them. Because, no matter how much you try to ignore it or shove it out of the way, the fact remains that they are both stalkers. Bradley stalks Eugene, who stalks Lizzie. Deadly triangle. Bad news. Someone’s going to end up dead. And someone’s going to end up beat up and nearly dead. And someone’s going to end up very not beat up, very far from death, and happily married way above her station with her one true love.

Eugene and Bradley are really brilliant characters, despite their numerous failings. In fact, these failings make them the more brilliant. And I have written way too much about them, probably, but it was fun, and I promised Greer I’d finish someday, and I hope I didn’t ramble too much (though I did) and I hope that my musings and interpretations at least make some sense to whoever is currently reading this. I also didn't bother to do any tweaking to this, so apologies for grammatical errors.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

OMF videos on YSP website!

Check out the YSP website here to see some video clips of OMF scenes!

Because you know you're all waiting for casting, and watching videos of the show is the best way to take your mind off it...right?

Friday, April 1, 2011

photos from rehearsal!

here are some rehearsal photos! i love you all!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I love you all so, so much.

photos from early in the rehearsal process:

I can't wait to see what the next part of journey holds...

Top 10 things to do while waiting for the fulll OMF

I know it's only been a few days since the workshop ended. Sure, maybe my attention span is short. But I'm bored. And I want to start the full OMF.

But this post also goes to those of you who won't be in the full play. And after the intro, there's going to be another whole week and a half while we wait for our casting. So for the impatient among us, or those who won't be with us for the full play, 10 things to do while waiting for all your free time to mysteriously disappear:

1. Read the book.

2. Re-read the book. It's surprising all the things you notice the second time around, especially when you've played some of the characters. Among other things--Bradley Headstone has a scene with John Harmon?

3. Watch a film version. Or two. I know we're critical of the versions, and you shouldn't let them influence your interpretation too much, but as Richard often says, there is no performance without at least some good things about it. (Alternatively, if you're a monomaniac, you can join me in my quest to find the lost film version of OMF--a silent short called "Eugene Wrayburn" with only the Eugene/Lizzie plot made by Thomas Edison's film company in 1911. I haven't been able to find these anywhere yet, but I'm going to keep trying!)

4. And what was four? Why, making pudding, he was four!

5. If you've done 1-3 already, read something else by Dickens. My personal favorites are Bleak House and David Copperfield, although I love Nicholas Nickleby as well. Or get adventurous and read some other Victorian novel--I'm currently in the middle of Vanity Fair, but I'd also recommend Middlemarch, Wuthering Heights, Barchester Towers...those were pretty good years for the novel.

6. Sit in the corner of your room at night and turn your lights on and off very quickly, to mimic a strobe light. Or walk down the bike path in character, muttering your lines under your breath. Yes, I have tried both of these.

7. Feel nostalgic about rehearsals by watching this video, filmed by Nick. (Back when we were still saying Georgiana incorrectly. Also, watch Alex come up with the Georgiana/Fledgeby not- wanting-to-sit-next-to-each-other idea--it's so cool to see everyone's thoughts happen in real time!) Or, if you're really desperate, watch this section 14 OMF workshop blooper video. Yep.

8. Volunteer to help out with the incredibly FUN process of counting lines and creating stage change lists for acts 3 and 4! That's what your directors are doing! Fun, fun, anyone want to join in the fun? Why are you all running away?

9. Read the 19th-century reviews of OMF. Two of the most interesting are that of G. K. Chesterton (he praised it) and Henry James (he Wray-burned it pretty badly).

10. I can't think of a ten. Write blog posts about OMF?

Anyway...I can't wait until the intro!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Eugene Wrayburn and Bradley Headstone PART THE FIRST

Ah. Hello. I've been writing this for a while now, and basically it's not even done yet. But I promised to put it up this week-or part of it, and here is roughly the first half.

I would like to thank everyone who I talked about these characters with, but especially Greer, Oliver, and Brewer, because they play these fantastic characters and it's so interesting to see what they come up with.

It has been extremely interesting these past weekends to see the result of some buildup in farther past weekends relating to the topic of certain persons Eugene Wrayburn and Bradley Headstone. The general opinion seems to be all in favor of Bradley! Why is this? While I acknowledge that he is an incredibly interesting and quite sympathetic character, and very deserving of all the love, I have not been able to fully understand why Eugene is so disliked, and I also have been confused as to why people are comparing them. Simply because persons are involved in a love triangle does not mean that is the defining part of their character.

While I confess myself strongly bias towards Lizzie and Eugene on the love triangle level, I regard Eugene and Bradley as equally interesting on a character level. And so, if you do not all mind reading a little analytical rambling of character on my part, I would like to ramble a bit about both of them.

One may argue that one of the points of Bradley Headstone is to make, through comparison, Eugene more favorable as a match for Lizzie. This may work in some places, but as demonstrated by the strong bias towards Bradley Headstone at YSP, that is not really working here.


I am not fond of love triangles, they always seem to make someone unhappy or dead (or in Bradley’s case, both, so I was not incredibly pleased to see one developing on my first read-through of Our Mutual Friend. Eugene or Bradley was going to end up unhappy (or dead), and that’s just a depressing thought to be reading with. At this point I considered Eugene amusingly aloof and dismissive (but actually, I thought Mortimer was even more so), and Bradley was just a guy who repressed his emotions WAY TOO MUCH for it to be healthy. So they weren’t great-but not that bad either.



Bradley Headstone is many things. Object of romantic interest to Miss Peecher. Romantic pursuer of Lizzie Hexam. Stalker of Eugene Wrayburn. Schoolmaster to Charley Hexam. Schoolmaster in general. Conflicted. Confused. Man of repressed emotions. Passionate. Obsessive. And possibly just a little crazy. But that is up to you.

When you first meet Bradley Headstone you are given a brief glimpse into his ‘normal’ persona. I say brief, because pretty much as soon as you meet him, he meets Lizzie and then, sadly, it is all downhill from there. He is decent, constrained, and from the beginning it is hinted that there is something lurking beneath.

Bradley Headstone, for all his tragic character and somewhat sympathetic villainry, is not exactly a good man. He is briefly shown as in control of his life, but changes to being ruled by his passions very quickly. While love can be a redeeming passion, hate is not really regarded as such.

So he falls madly (literally!) in love with Lizzie and starts to pursue her, and rather abandons his stable life for the passions of the heart. His love for Lizzie leads him to develop a very deep hate for Eugene Wrayburn, very fast, and for very little cause. Raging jealousy, hate, and love are often a bad combination.

What did Eugene do? His air-his speech-his condescending aloof and disinterested laziness seem to affect Bradley almost immediately. Admittedly, he is not very nice to Bradley Headstone either, but is that really enough to justify murderous hate? But more about Eugene later.

I find it important, when talking about Bradley Headstone, to mention his proposal to Lizzie. On his part it seems desperate and sympathetic, a man who is madly in love attempting to win over object of said love. However, what is it to Lizzie?

Take the location, for instance. A graveyard. Consider his name. Headstone. While you roll your eyes and go ‘Oh, that Charles Dickens!’ and also thank the various worshipped heavenly powers that his name wasn’t Deadstone, also consider that if you were being proposed to-would you want to be proposed to in a graveyard? At night? I will not add ‘from a man whose name is Headstone?’ because the name really isn’t his fault, poor man.

However, the whole ordeal mostly freaks Lizzie out. I cannot blame her because it is just not a position that any young woman wants to find herself in, at night especially. She refuses his proposal of marriage, and then he fixates on Eugene as the causer of all his problems. He cannot blame Lizzie for this-he blames Eugene. For everything. And Lizzie realizes this and gets even more frightened because she actually kinda likes Eugene. Bradley retreats with some dignity left (actually he makes a pretty good exit, considering the way things went) and actually doesn’t really ever bother her again, except to attempt to kill Eugene, but that’s an indirect bother.

Eugene, on the other hand, is a different story. He is now the object of an obsession for Bradley Headstone-he is the reason that Lizzie refused him, and after all, Bradley was in love with her, so yeah, Jealousy and all that fun stuff. Good thing there wasn’t a Iago around, eh?

As the story continues, Bradley gets more and more unhinged. However, soon, a very notable Bradley and Eugene interaction takes place.


The big all-caps title was probably unnecessary. However, it sounded cool and ominous.

In all honesty, and I will talk about this later, this is not exactly Eugene’s shining act of humanity. And as the line between the two in terms of ethics becomes blurred-by this time both of them are doing strange, selfish things, or at least planning to do strange, selfish things. And while it is very entertaining to picture Eugene running around town, stalked by Bradley, and taking all the silliest and odd routes just to irritate and further infuriate Bradley, it just doesn’t click with the moral evaluators. So really, this is where Bradley is portrayed as quite a victim. Provoked by Eugene’s amused…provoking, he starts to really go crazy. As long as we note that he started following Eugene, which prompted Eugene to bait him, we can continue. (Also interesting is that it is implied that Charley too takes part in this follow-the-Eugene game from time to time. In fact, in my copy of OMF, which I found in a used bookstore, the lines of Eugene describing his followers are underlined, and beneath is written ‘headstone&charley’).

You may all glare at Eugene now, so we can get back to Bradley.

Bradley is murderous. And angry. And wrathful. And absolutely bent on following Eugene in the hope that Eugene will lead him to Lizzie. I do, though, wonder if that is just one of the reasons he is following Eugene. After all, when he finally follows Eugene to Lizzie, he doesn’t even bother with her and beats up Eugene instead.

In my humble opinion, throughout the rest of the book, Bradley is strangely enough, a really sympathetic character. Before he proposed to Lizzie, Charley was a very bad influence on him, I think. But then, as things near an end, something happens to make Bradley go completely insane.


He’s rejected by the woman he loved. He’s baited and provoked by the man he loathes. And finally, he is ‘cast off’ by Charley Hexam. The horrible part? It’s thanks to Charley that he met Lizzie, and consequently went insane (and then died) because of the events that happened after.

There’s not much else to say. He hangs about with Riderhood, stalks Eugene to Lizzie, and then in a fit of fury, beats him nearly to death and dumps him in the river.

In this murderous act, Bradley has actually imitated the dress and look of Riderhood, probably to lay the blame on him if there should be an investigation. Riderhood is no fool, and notices. He proceeds to attempt to blackmail Bradley, and in a final act of, well, something, Bradley grabs him, they struggle, and then fall to their deaths in the river. It’s pretty much suicide, he knows that if he kills Riderhood, he’ll die too, and that makes Bradley’s death very tragic, and really rather heroic, in a way.

To be continued...