Sondheim Symposium [Sequence Index]

In the summer of 2012, I threw the best birthday party ever when I bribed all my friends with pizza and cake in order to get them to watch a Sondheim double feature.  First, we watched Company, Sondheim's concept musical about marriage, and then we saw Passion, which has a linear narrative but still manages to be a lot more disorienting.  And then we had an argument. Since Company was, at the time of writing, available on Netflix instant play, I invited blog readers to watch along and … [Read more...]

Teaching Fish the Word for Water

In the last Sondheim Symposium post, I talked about Giorgio struggling with Fosca's implacable love.  If his reluctance to accept her unconditional love parallels the flinch away from grace, does it follow that Fosca is a Christ-like figure? Probably not.  For a while after I saw the show, I suspected her of ostentatious humility.  In fact, I hoped that some of her prostrations were insincere.  She was starting to remind me of the awful, self-abnegating image of love on display in … [Read more...]

“Nobody human can stand all that everlasting affection!”

The quote is from Company, the subject is Passion, as the Sondheim Symposium goes on. This installment includes spoilers for 1984. At the climax of 1984, Winston is broken by the tortures in room 101. The moment that anihilates him and represents victory for Big Brother is the moment where he cries out: Do it to her! Do it to Julia! I don’t care what you do to her, but do it to her! Tear her face off! Do it to Julia, not to me! Do it to Julia! Not me! If this is betrayal, we might … [Read more...]

“Careful the wish you make, wishes come true. Not free”

Yesterday, in my review of inSignificant, I started teasing the next thread of the Sondheim Symposium. For Bobby to progress, he needs to make himself vulnerable and unsafe.  We think of him transitioning into the role of servant, as Christ does.  A future Bobby, we hope, won’t still be able to be described as “Exclusive you! Elusive you!  Will any person ever get the juice of you?” as he is in “You Could Drive a Person Crazy.” If Company ends with a choice to give oneself … [Read more...]

Weakness as Strength

    I received a free copy of inSignificant: Why You Matter in the Surprising Way God Is Changing the World to review as part of the Patheos Book Club, but was not subject to any limitations on my post. I tend to read and review apologetic works (or totally off-topic ones) that may be of interest to anyone in my weird audience.  So, fair warning, inSignificant is written for Christians, and is probably not of interest to the non-Christian readers of the blog.  It's also much … [Read more...]

“What do you wanna [stay single] for?”

Bobby and his three girlfriends (the image links to the song)

I'm delighted to say that Christian H of The Thinking Grounds has sent in a guest post for the Sondheim Symposium.  Christian H is an English Lit grad student in Canada, and his blog is one of the reasons you should use RSS readers: it updates irregularly, but is always interesting.  Take it away, Christian! Sondheim’s musical Company might strike many as being strangely silent on the subject of what marriage is, and what it is for, considering that it is a musical about marriage. Or, … [Read more...]

“It’s not so hard to be married. I’ve done it three or four times.”

"Everything's different..."

Inspired by the Sondheim Symposium, my college friend Katharine Pitt offered a guest post based on her own experiences acting marriages in Shakespeare (She's pretty awesome, so I'm sure she won't mind me inserting a plug for Slings and Arrows in the intro to her post).  I think all the rest you need to know is she's awesome (bears repeating), the photos below were taken by William Sacco (captions courtesy of Katharine), and everything that follows is hers.  Take it away, Kate, the prettiest … [Read more...]


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