Theatre Thursdays

Welcome to Theatre Thursdays! Today's installment functions as sort of a PSA, and here it is: If anyone ever invites you to attend a play written by Jean-Paul Sartre, for the love of Bob, tell them you have to wash your hair that night, or something. Jean-Paul Sartre plays are terrible. They are philosophy (obviously) couched in clunky-ass dialogue. But, occasionally, they offer some fun monologues if you feel like getting your whine on.

Dirty Hands is... well, I sort of forget what it's about, honestly. There are lots of discussions about whether murder is an abstract thing or a true action, and it revolves around Hugo who is tortured by his inability to decide which matters more: theory or reality (seriously). (Existentialism holds that man is nothing but a sum of his actions. So you guess which "murder" ends up being.) Hugo is married to Jessica. Hugo goes to work for Hoederer, who is... like, a gangster or a Communist or something? But Hugo's a double agent? He's supposed to kill Hoederer? Or something? I don't even remember. BUT. Jessica. She's flighty and innocent and whatnot - but only due to many wasted opportunities to mature. She's got as much going on upstairs (surprise) as any of then men around her (the nineteen years she refers to below reference her life with her father; she and Hugo are in their early twenties), but she's never taken it upon herself to use these faculties of hers, because J-PS had some hangups about women, if you ask me. Finally, toward the end of the play, when Hugo is just rolling around in dicketry like a pig in sh*t, Jessica can't take his asshattery anymore. She's trying to give him advice, and he says "Your advice comes from another world..."

JESSICA: Whose fault is that? Why was I never taught anything? Why didn't you explain anything to me? You heard what he said: that I was your luxury. For nineteen years now I've been in your man's world, with signs everywhere saying: "Do not touch," made to believe that everything was going very well, that there was nothing for me to do except to arrange flowers in vases. Why did you lie to me? Why did you leave me in ignorance if it was only to confess to me one fine day that the world is falling to pieces and that you're not up to your responsibilities, forcing me to choose between a suicide and an assassination. I don't want to choose: I don't want you to get yourself killed, and I don't want you to kill him. Why have you thrust the burden on my shoulders? I don't understand this whole business and I wash my hands of it. I am neither an oppressor nor a class traitor nor a revolutionary. I've done nothing. I am innocent of everything. It's too late, Hugo; you've got me into it, and now I have to choose. For both of us: it's my life that I'm choosing with yours and I - Oh my God! I can't. Don't say a word. Don't bother about me. I won't speak to you; I won't disturb your thinking. But I'll be here. It'll be cold in the morning: you'll be glad to have a little of my warmth, since I have nothing else to give you.

Do you see?? Do you see that writing?? Oh my GOD, who let this man write plays? Dear lord. Anyway, that monologue is a nice little intro course to Existentialism, if that's what you're looking for. Then again, if you're looking for Philosophy 101, I'm guessing you don't want to go to Broadway for it?

Oh, then a few scenes later, Jessica and Hoederer fall in love and kiss, and Hugo catches them, and gets the cajones to kill Hoederer, like he was supposed to months ago. Not because of his *ideas* (theory) but because he gets the concrete impetus of apparent infidelity (reality).

Do you see?? Do you see???? Good lord, stick to Being and Nothingness, I beg you. But if you ever need a pissy monologue to showcase your more retiring traits, go for Jessica.

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