From retrospect to Millie's War: writing a configurative play

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Title: From retrospect to Millie's War: writing a configurative play
Author: Wintour, Elizabeth G.
Abstract: Millie's War is a configurative play written as an experiment in form , an exercise exploring the possibilities of a more suitable structure for the content of an earlier written play . In 1990 , I wrote Retrospect , a play about a woman who discovers the answer to a mystery in her past : the death of her father in World War II . The story becomes a murder mystery , but in the end , Retrospect answers all the protagonist's questions about the death of her father . Retrospect is a linear play with horizontal movement . It tells a complete story . Traumatic memory rarely works in this way . Since the original play , Retrospect , failed to handle the issues of war , loss , and suffering in a manner that satisfied me , I wrote a new play . The motivation for the new play was to take the internal traumatic experience of a young girl who lost her father in war , and see if I could represent dramatically how the mind goes through trauma . With Millie's War , I was interested to see if , by changing the shape of the play , I could better express the traumatic experience . With Millie’s War , I explore what happens when logical , causal structure is transformed into a structure shaped by image , chance , juxtaposition , and movement . A successful Millie’s War shall mirror the pre -narrative stage of traumatic experience dramatically through a configurative structure . The play shall thus embody the chaos of a traumatized mind : it shall be repetitious and illogical as it replays snatches of memory in a circular fashion . Rather than presenting a story , meaning and significance shall come through the power of its symbolic associations , like a dream . Additionally , in the Millie’s War script , I feel an audience response should be measured in a Brechtian sense rather than an Aristotelian sense . In other words , an audience , instead of empathizing with Millie , should be enlightened to the experience of trauma caused by war . I provide a dramaturgical analysis of Millie's War to place it within the context of current playwriting practice . I explore elements of configurative form and their relationship to Samuel Beckett’s Eh Joe , Bill T . Jones’s Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin /The Promised Land , Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls , Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach , Suzan -Lori Parks’s Imperceptible Mutabilities of the Third Kingdom , Joseph Chaikin with Jean -Claude van Itallie’s The Serpent , and Joseph Chaikin with Susan Yankowitz’s Terminal . Additionally , I chronicle my writing process from the inspiration of the first play , Retrospect , through the writing and production processes of the new play , Millie's War . Finally , I evaluate how well the new script held up as a tool for communicating my vision of the play , and I explore possible solutions for revisions .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /11831
Date: 2006-05


Wintour, Elizabeth G. From retrospect to Millie's War: writing a configurative play. Doctoral dissertation, Texas Tech University. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /11831 .

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