Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Sixes and Sevens

SABINA: Oh, oh, oh! Six o'clock and the master not home yet. Pray God nothing serious has happened to him crossing the Hudson River. If anything happened to him, we would cer- tainly be inconsolable and have to move to a less desirable residence district. The fact is I don't know what'll become of us. Here it is the middle of August and the coldest day of the year. It's simply freezing; the dogs are sticking to the sidewalks; can anybody explain that? No. But I'm not surprised. The whole world's at sixes and sevens, and why the house hasn't fallen down about our ears long ago is a miracle to me.

The Skin of Our Teeth, Thornton Wilder

I woke up, gave a glance at the news, and this is what popped into my head: the Antrobus family trying to maintain normalcy as chaos and an ice age bears down on them.

To be sure, there’s plenty of interesting local things to note, and I’ll talk about them tomorrow. But this morning the state of our nation has put me smack onstage with Wilder’s characters who huddle together burning furniture to keep warm, while making sandwiches and reciting snippets of the worlds great thinkers. 

It’s a very profound play to rehearse, because those epic questions come up as you work: Is humanity resilient? It’s a really dystopian look at the American experiment, and I think that’s what we’re all kind of waking up to. We assumed we would be inheritors of this great ideal, and now we realize how completely fragile it is. Carey Perloff, “Why Thornton Wilder Matters in the Trump Era” New York Times

Fragile, indeed.

Wilder closes his play with a bit of hope. I’m struggling to find some today.

This is where you came in. We have to go on for ages and ages yet. You go home. The end of this play isn’t written yet. Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus! Their heads are full of plans and they’re as confident as the first day they began,—and they told me to tell you: good night.

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