RED EYE OF LOVE
I have revised Red Eye of Love: The Musical for publication in this book. If a play does not make itself clear to the Drama Critic of The New York Times, the author should investigate how his intentions might be made more clear.
Before Red Eye of Love: The Musical opened in New York, I gave the script of Madrigal of War to Ted Sperling. He read some of it, and then reported back to me, disparagingly, that the play was just like Red Eye. He was entirely correct.
In thinking about the two plays, I realized I was groping for a means of expression that as yet does not really exist in the American Theatre.
Madrigal of War and Red Eye of Love: The Musical are extended metaphors. Madrigal of War is about the state of war that can exist in man as he attempts to deal with the forces of mind and body in his search for his own sexual identity. The standard devices of plot and narrative are almost done away with. There is no real resolution to the play. What an audience should get from it is a depiction of the sort of inner confusion that is particular to the human condition. As Petrarch says in his inscription at the beginning of the play, “War is my state.”
Red Eye of Love: The Musical is written in the same way. It is a metaphor about America. It shows how idealism, as personified by Wilmer, combats materialism, as personified by O.O. Martinas, for the possession of the American Dream, as personified by Selma Chargesse. At the end, the play, like Madrigal of War, does not resolve itself in a conventional fashion. Rather, we see a wedding of idealism and materialism still in pursuit of the dream. This is the state that exists in America now, and has always existed throughout our history. That is why time is dissolved and the play is played out against several eras of American society.
Why bother to write such plays? I believe that the richest periods of theatre history occurred when the plays were conceived as poetry. Certainly, this was true of Shakespeare. Madrigal of War and Red Eye: The Musical are attempts to find our way back to, as Cocteau says, poetry of the theatre. They try to expand the parameters of our theatre, which is now so largely confined within realistic drama. I believe they point to a richer dramatic form in which music, movement, language, physical staging, and all the devices of contemporary art can be used much more imaginatively.
I believe that far from being obscure, the plays could be more popular than our current fare. They reflect the artistic instincts of some of our greatest theatre artists, from Shakespeare to Charlie Chaplin, both of whom were great, popular artists. It is also interesting to me that theatre has not kept evolving as dance in this country. One of my idols is George Balanchine, another popular artist, and Madrigal of War especially, owes a great deal of its inspiration to him. Balanchine was a person both Edward Gorey and I greatly admired. You can see his influence on Edward’s drawings. I believe this must have been, in part, what Merce saw in the play. Both plays should be looked at in the same way an audience looks at The Four Temperaments or Stars and Stripes.
At present, we are trying to arrange a production of Red Eye of Love: The Musical, in London for next year. Failing that, we will record the music so that there will be, at least, a record of the show.