For responses 1-3 please respond thoughtfully. Just saying “I agree” or “I disagree” does not constitute a thoughtful response. Add to the 3 responses with very specific, concrete examples (some from the texts, some from personal experience); it’s also a good idea to ask questions which will further the discussion.
1. 6. Compare “Tape” and “Post-its.” How are they similar? How are they different?
Paul Dooley and Winnie Holzman’s “Post-its” and Jose Rivera’s “Tape” are both short plays that feature only two characters throughout. While “Post-its” follows the timeline of one couples journey from newly dating to parenthood, marriage, and finally til death do us part; “Tape” follows what appears to be one person’s acquaintance with their new purgatory.
“Post-its” is a unique telling in that the story unfolds through the scattered post-it messages that have been shared between the two characters, anonymously named only as Actor and Actress. “Tape” follows more of a conventional dialogue spoken between the two characters though they are also unnamed and listed only as Person and Attendant. There are no specified gender pronouns for either character in “Tape” though I think it’s interesting to note that the Attendant has a very caring, almost motherly attitude towards the Person, “We don’t want to cause you any undue suffering” (Rivera 1). However, the relationship between Person and Attendant seems formal, bordering on robotic with the Attendant. The relationship exhibited between Actor and Actress in “Post-its” is much more intimate, as they become parents, get married, and grow old together. While “Post-its” follows the milestones of the living, “Tapes” takes place in what appears to be the afterlife, a place that we learn Person must atone for his sins of lying. Though the couple in “Post-its” go through many trials and tribulations of life and marriage together, they are ultimately happy in the end. Even after the implied wife’s death, there is a bittersweet monologue from the husband that shows they had formed a deep lifelong love and bond, “Actor:…You’d saved every Post-it I ever wrote you. I wish I’d saved yours. I could be reading them now” (Dooley and Holzman 5). Unfortunately this is not the case for Person in “Tapes,” the theme and tone in this play are much darker and sinister, as Person is condemned to stay in that dark room alone to replay the sins of his lifetime, perhaps for the rest of eternity.
2. The subject of Proof–high-level mathematics–is one that most people find incomprehensible and boring. How does Auburn make the play interesting?
The subject of Proof isn’t high-level mathematics but a girl, hanging on the edge of sanity, trying desparately to pull herself up and back into society again after losing her father. While high-level mathematics are indeed important to the story, it is really the concept of proofs that drive it home. Catherine is a late mathematician’s daughter who spends her life trying to step out from her father’s shadow; it is a terrifyingly long shadow. Catherine tries to prove herself in many ways, to herself, to her friends, and to her late father. She writes a proof. This is how Auburn makes the play so interesting. The audience doesn’t need to understand set theory, or infinities, or real analysis; they just need to understand that the play is about a girl writing a proof, trying to prove herself. It is Catherine’s humanity that sheds so much light on the mathematical part of the play.
3. The subject of Proof–high-level mathematics–is one that most people find incomprehensible and boring. How does Auburn make the play interesting?
I actually have to disagree with the prompt. While most people do find high level mathematics incomprehensible, it is far from boring. In math, there is a certain truth. It is beautiful, cold, and absolute. Math is unique because it is a language that everyone understands. Auburn plays on the concept of high level mathematics by adhereing to its beauty. Many high level mathematical fields deal with the notion of proofs—that is, the rigorous steps to prove that a claim is absolutely true. Auburn uses proofs because Catherine is trying to prove herself. She is making literary devices of mathematical tools; this is an awesome comparison that has many nuances (which are explored in the play!) For instance: “Let X equal the quantity of all quantities of X. Let X equal the cold. It is cold in December. The months of cold equal November through February. There are four months of cold and four of heat, leaving four months of indeterminate temperature. In February it snows. In March the lake is a lake of ice. In September the students come back and the bookstores are full. Let X equal the month of full bookstores.” This quote, while incomprehensible at first, is logical in a twisted way. Auburn combines Catherine’s knowledge of high maths and her own twist to wordplay. Through her constant intertwining of literature and maths, Auburn creates an interesting literary device.