Monthly Archives: February 2011

More TBD.com Coverage of FLEA

Maura Judkis over at TBD.com is continuing her backstage, “sneak peek” coverage of One Flea Spare with a new post on one of our favorite props used in the show.

“In a show filled with a lot of icky liquids — the perimeter of the stage is covered in “filth texture,” the actors are covered in dirt, and there’s also brief appearances of blood and spit — the bucket of fake urine is by far, the grossest-looking thing backstage at One Flea Spare.”

(WARNING: article contains both plot and ….urm, appetite spoilers)

THE FLEA by John Donne

Naomi Wallace derived the title of One Flea Spare from John Donne’s poem, The Flea:

Woman Catching Fleas. c.1630. Georges de la Tour.

THE FLEA.
by John Donne

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper’d swells with one blood made of two ;
And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we’re met,
And cloister’d in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck’d from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
‘Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.

Source:
Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 1-2.

 

Tony Kushner on Naomi Wallace

“Naomi Wallace commits the unpardonable sin of being partisan, and, the darkness and harshness of her work notwithstanding, outrageously optimistic. She seems to believe the world can change. She certainly writes as if she intends to set it on fire.”

—Tony Kushner

 

“I sat in a theater at the Humana Festival last year, after the closing monologue of ONE FLEA SPARE, unable to move. I had known Naomi Wallace’s work well, having directed an earlier play, and I knew she had tremendous talent and promised to great things. Nothing had prepared me–not my admiration for her plays and for her beautiful, harsh, moving, brilliantly political poetry–for the experience of watching this play, which is in my opinion one of the finest works of dramatic literature written here or in England in the last two decades. Utterly without sentiment but possessed of a very great human heart, ONE FLEA SPARE touches upon many things, class and gender and the pressures of a plague upon internal and external human constructs; and, as I read it, most devastatingly it addresses a tragedy of almost inexpressible dimensions: the consequences of the horrors of biology and Capital on the young. As the play draws to its shattering close I was filled with thoughts of the children of Sarajevo and Rwanda and the slums of America. `Almost’ inexpressible except in the hands of a true poet, and Naomi Wallace so magnificently proves herself to be. Her ability to articulate the inarticulable, grief and loss and suffering beyond endurance, is a source of hope; as is the resilience and passion of the marvelous characters she’s assembled. Everyone who loves the theater should read this play. It has made me INTENSELY envious and very full of joy.”
Tony Kushner