4 comments on “Chapter Ten: Names

  1. I just can’t get past the fact that it is a tale of revenge. The Revenger’s Tragedy comes to mind. Or Mack the Knife. I think the title “Sweet Willow” begs the ending, which was always a problem for us. If there is some sort of redemption at the end, some sort of preservation of that willow… it bends but doesn’t break, then Sweet Willow can work.

    • Maybe the show should be called Brokeback Willow 🙂

      Wow, the Revenger’s Tragedy! Now there is a tale of vendettas that puts even Rigoletto to shame. I’m not sure it’s a good analogy though since the entire show is predicated on revenge. I’ve never seen a production but I can only imagine how difficult it could be to keep track of who was plotting against who at any given moment.

      Yes, the ever elusive ending for Sweet Willow. Maybe one way to look at it is from this perspective. You have Loretta (Emelia) sing the Willow Song, not Mona/Desdemona. She is still standing at the end reprising the Willow Song in a more poignant arrangement than when it first appears in Act 1. That probably doesn’t qualify as redemption but it is reflection. So in that context Loretta becomes the Chorus commenting on the drama.
      What do you think?

  2. Well, yes, I think I wasn’t quite sure about the name at first. And even to this day, I’m not sure, though it is very poetic and certainly speaks to one aspect of the play’s essence. I think I was first more interested in a name that spoke to the the madness and/or darkness in the play. I remember us debating a title incorporating “Jimmy Shine” or something. I love Jimmy Shine’s name because he is evil incarnate and yet with the word “shine” in his last name. I also know that the moon plays a role in our show, thus moon shine and Jimmy shine… and somewhere in there was a title for me. That being said, I did eventually give in. I think titles are important, but I felt we still had a way to go to get the play fleshed out to a stage that we could feel proud of. My problem with Desdemona in Otello is that I feel her part is too underwritten. She’s really the objectified desire that helps illustrate the failings of man, like many women are in so many stories. And in our story we did make an effort to give her more dimensions, which I think we did.

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for the response. I really appreciate your opinion and insight. Yes, I agree that Jimmy Shine was and is a great name. It also makes a lot of sense to look to the Iago/Jimmy character for a title since most of the action in both Othello and Sweet Willow is generated by his deceits and manipulations. However I think I have finally landed comfortably in the camp that wants to focus on the resulting tragedy of the amazing naivete’ of both Odelle and Mona. What made them think that their relationship was going to be a success in the racist climate of the period and in the nature of Hank Desmond’s character? In their love for each other (Sweet) they completely misjudged what was soon to be the reality that Jimmy would exploit resulting in the jealousy/isolation/alienation (Willow) that finally ends with murder.
      I don’t think that there is a right or wrong here. The direction for a title could work either way, I just find myself more drawn to one of the options.
      As for Desdemona you really put a lot of effort into making the role a bit more central and less ‘underwritten’. It’s also a nice point you make about the objectified desires of man. That’s a theme that runs through so many dramas (Swan Lake here again too) and unfortunately through real life.
      I look forward to more discussions with you.

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