Just a note to say The Living Theatre in New York is going to be presenting a staged reading of Empty Bowl on Monday Apr 27.
Not Twice This Play
Empty Bowl is rewritten, rethought and considerably expanded from a one act play I wrote in 1993, inch foot time gem, which for a one act play intended to run an hour had far too many irreducible flaws. Whole scenes intended to capture the enigmatic character of the Zen koan came out obscurantist and befuddling rather; those I excised. In Act III of Empty Bowl I re-used about two pages of Eshun's long speech from the earlier play, though most of Eshun's dialogue's original to this version. None of the other characters already featured--Nobunaga, Nobushige, Hakuin, Peasant in Blue Kimono (renamed Ainu in Empty Bowl)--spoke in their real voices yet, so their dialogue here is totally fresh. (I tell a lie. I did retain two lines from the earlier, much shorter version of the fairground shell game scene:
It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.
I dunno. Six of one, half dozen of the other if you ask me.
Well, would you have cut that?)
The prologue, 'inch foot', and the epilogue, 'not twice this day', considerably reworked, still frame the action of Empty Bowl. Quite a few images I thought effective have been retained, such as Ainu, back from numerous campaigns, a one-eyed double amputee. Narrative threads originally independent of each other have been integrated into one continuous story line.
Wabi, Tamago, Minaki, Taka and various secondary characters are entirely new to this version. inch foot time gem was missing them.
It often takes a long time for the true form of a play to be disclosed, even to its author.