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Hummingbird's picture

I found the play we read for class today ("Footfalls") incredibly silencing and frustrating because I couldn't understand what was happening and what I could take from it. When I read the play last night, I got angrier and angrier because I felt like I was being shut out. I hoped the experience of watching the play might be more enlightening, but was disappointed to realize I felt just as confused about the play at the end of it. I felt dumb for having to ask, especially because the attitude I got from Mark was that the theme was obvious – and for me, that definitely wasn't the case. I also didn't find his explanation of the actual happenings of the play helpful because I wanted to know what that meant.

I wanted this experience to be a learning experience for me. Listening to Mark and Katherine's explanations of their process and their thoughts on silence, I was really hopeful for a breakthrough in the play – instead, I struggled to connect their thoughts on silence back to what I was viewing in the play. I still don't know what the theme of the play even is. 

Maybe it's unfair for me to have asked for Mark's interpretation in the first place. It could be like when couldntthinkofanoriginalname asked Erin for a translation of her poem and was frustrated to be denied that access. On the other hand, I now feel as though I've missed out on something really important. Regardless of whether or not we return to this play in the next class, I feel like I've completely missed a learning opportunity and that makes me feel like I've wasted time. Anne said the play made her shudder, and I agree that I found it unsettling, but I find I'm too distracted by my utter lack of understanding to take this feeling any further. 



Dan's picture

I don't know if this will be

I don't know if this will be helpful...

But, I read it as being about the ghosts that haunt our silences. When we don't speak, which moments replay in our minds? Which conversations are we entering into again post-event, which histories are we diving into? Whose voices are we hearing that keep our mind from being quiet? 

Also, in death, can we achieve silence? In physically removing ourselves from others, we may think we are silent, but will others still hear us in their heads?  Isn't that a weird thought? That our voices could be playing in other people's heads right now?

The actual plot of the play is of a woman, May, who seems to be experiencing a kind of post traumatic stress from the relationship with her mother -- who died a long time ago. But her solitude and her silence are filled with her mother's presence. 

It reminds me of this quote by David Foster Wallace that goes: "ghosts are always talking to us, but we think their voices are our thoughts." 

Hummingbird's picture

Thank you!

Thank you so much – this was really helpful! I kind of wish we'd gotten some of this analysis before/during the class so that seeing the play performed could have been a more productive experience for me. I think if I'd had this, I would have been able to engage in a more worthwile dialogue about the play... This definitely helps ease the feeling of lost understanding though – thank you, again!

Sarah's picture


AGREE AGREE AGREE! I was so frustrated! If you didn't speak I was about to raise my hand and just be like "I didn't understand any of it".  I don't know what happened and I think he said in his response something about interpretation...but don't you need to have some very basic level of understanding to interpret? I didn't get what was happening, if the mother was dead or alive, what the pacing/moving candle represented, who the characters were, what the random stories/anecdotes were about.  I felt extremely shut out, and I don't know if we'll get a chance to talk about in class because we have another guest Thursday.