Chekov’s Gun and Le Stylo Préfére
July 19, 2017 § Leave a comment
What could Chekov’s gun have in common with a fountain pen? Did Chekov want the gun if mentioned in the first act, discharged in the second act or by the conclusion of the play? You might tussle with that question in a playwriting course or literature class. You might even have a hot debate about it, some academics even might come to blows, but in the end what happens to that gun or to that pen or, let’s say, to a letter brought conspicuously into a scene yet left unopened. If so, that letter will scream throughout the performance, “Open the damn letter”and if not opened, the audience would squirm in their seats as if sitting on velcro. Such, also, is the power of the prop and the power of the stage-hand who must place the prop in the right place, the right time, the right viewing angle and, yes, be quick and quiet about it.
In Le Retour, a pen plays a central role. I won’t say what happens to said pen or why it plays that role. You’ll need to come and see a performance of the play or follow us to Belgium in the summer of 2018 to get the answer. I didn’t even know the pen would factor so significantly when I started writing the play. Except, now, keying in this blog entry, I see in my mind the spidery, ink scribing of the priest’s grade entry for my young Uncle Léo (circa 1912, College Saint Anne, Church Point, Nova Scotia) where Léo went to school before he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Regiment and sent to war. He never came home. Now, almost 100 years later, we are remembering and bringing those ghosts back. They have words for us whether through pens or keyboards. We need to look and to listen to what they have to say.