by Esther Emery
In concert with my next freelance directing project, which is set in Hell, I’m catching up on a little Dante. Catching up, you say? Hasn’t he been dead since the 14th century? Indeed. And since the 14th century, his three volume spiritual pilgrimage in verse has been thrilling and deterring wannabe literati with its oh-so-many levels of hell and pre-Renaissance allegory.
But even the expanse of the Medieval universe can be managed in small enough doses. I’ve used this trick before. A few years ago I divided the number of pages in James Joyce’s Ulysses by the number of days in the run of the musical about that writer’s life (which I assistant stage managed and now can’t seem to remember the name of, ha!) The magic number was 32, so I read 32 pages a day, rain or shine, until I was done. And now I’ve read Ulysses, which turns out to have been more memorable than the musical.
Today Rhianna and I are on canto III of the Inferno. (Yes, indeed, that is, “Abandon all hope, o ye who enter here,” or in my translation, “LAY DOWN ALL HOPE,” caps faithfully reproduced.) We’re committed to one canto per day until opening night of No Exit, and I’m blogging about it to shore up my resolve. Join us or wish us well!