|Posted by David Benson on July 26, 2009 at 10:43 AM|
I have just finished the latest draft of my new show about Samuel Johnson, the Edinburgh version of the show. The first three shows have been improvised around a loose structure and each has drawn on different aspects of Johnson’s life and work depending on how the audiences have responded and according to the dictates of my whim. The first two shows, at the Johnson House Museum in Gough Square were aimed at an audience one assumed knew something about Johnson already, although the large party of Mormon high school students from Salt Lake City proved surprisingly receptive despite knowing nothing about him before they entered the room. To be performing in the actual garret room where he wrote the dictionary gave an immediacy to the shows that would be hard to match anywhere else, though the third show at the British Library was lent an air of authority by its setting.
Now the production enters its next phase: to leave the lecture room and enter the theatre.
I have previews over the next two nights: Bath on Monday and then Bristol. I will be attempting to perform the new script and tonight will attempt to commit as much of it, or at least the long quotes from Johnson’s writing, to memory. The one I am learning at the moment is typically useful and instructive, given my chronic tendency to procrastination:
“The certainty that life cannot be long, and the probability that it will be much shorter than nature allows, ought to awaken every man to the active prosecution of whatever he is desirous to perform.
It is true that no diligence can ascertain success; death may intercept the swiftest career; but he who is cut off in the execution of an honest undertaking has at least the honour of falling in his rank, and has fought the battle, though he missed the victory.”
[Rambler 134. June 29th 1751]
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