Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Comic Trial of Joseph K.:Text and Context... as staged by Hector Ortega


It is surprising: I have found that  more people than I realize enjoy the theater- personally I have never been one for it. I am sure that high school Shakespeare has convinced me as well.  But this is not to say that I have not matured or changed my opinion. Maybe I have not seen or read "the right one," so I start here.

After reading The Comic Trial of Joseph K.: Text and Context there are too many places to start. Everything from the introduction by Harry Polkinhorn to the last word of Emily Hicks essay astounds me. The title alone says it all. But despite its forwardness, the book does more for laughs and chair-clenching (un)satisfactions.

For us Lit-Heads, The Context surrounding this adaptation vivifies comedy, when explaining a joke usually ruins it. For example, Hector Ortega invites us in with his "Notes on the Stage Adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Trial" starting with:
Perhaps I've exaggerated in taking a [comic] side (Gogol says that a speech cannot be launched without exaggerating a little), but I'm sure I have exaggerated much less that Jean Louis Barrault and Andre Gide did, or even Orson Welles himself accentuating the tragic and pathetic side of the novel and eliminating any humorous dash that could compromise his gloomy conception and inspire a laugh.
This Book has amazing pictures by Jose Luis Cuevas detailing
what we might read and adding dimension to the work.
Moments like this the author begins a dialogue with us, animating the work that  otherwise demands viewership. Though we could say that Hector Ortega intends to print his stage adaptation; because of a interweaving thread, that of fragmentation, or fractured identity. To further explain, Harry Polkinhorn admits in his introduction:
How can any art escape the straitjacket of identity... Kafka, the Polish Jew living in Prague and writing in German (instead of Yiddish), becomes a symbol for the most extreme of fractured identity politics characterizing our time... Yiddish, German, Spanish, and now English. Each translation betrays the original, again repeating the pure guilt and consequent sacrifice visited upon the individual.
In this comedy you can be
the judge!
If we take this fractured lens of identity further away from the stage, than we see the book as fractured. Because it does not have the stage or actors in front of us, but in our mind. Betraying all the aesthetics of theater, and possibly novels, but transcending a jelly boundary that exist between live actors and that of print.

So, this is where I find the comedy in Hector Ortega's stage adaptation- in these clashes and fractures. An irony that can break bodies of identity, but only from belly laughs. Still, comedy is very dangerous, and Hector Ortega works with meticulous pen to reveal an image and mirror. I can call it Mexicanidad, and I will. But I think we can get a little funky, and get indeterminate. Only for the sake of interpretation. So go ahead, its summer! Enjoy a laugh or two while staying cool with The Comic Trial of Joseph K. Text and Context.

Hector Ortega includes photos documentation that this play happened.
"That's enough for today; so we can say good-bye,  for now, of course."

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