Catharsis is what the Greek tragedians wanted at the end of the play. The word in Greek is κάθαρσις. It means to purge or clean. In this case it means a purging of emotions. 

The above comes from my notes from a class I took at DePaul University. 

Today I started a new play because I hadn’t written a play since I wrote an entry for last year’s DrekFest contest. Prior to that, my last play was a new version of Antigone I wrote, which upset a lot of people on Twitter because I argued that Creon is actually the tragic hero by the standards Aristotle lays out in Poetics

Antigone and Colonus had been sitting on my hard drive since then, untouched and bound to never be seen again. In January of 2011 I did a reading of Oedipus in my apartment in an attempt to try to do some development. 

While sitting in the office of a professor I had while studying theatre at The Theatre School at DePaul University, I had this revelation that I actually did more writing while I was studying biology at UIC and was more active in Chicago theatre than I am studying at an arts college. 

In this year, I’ve failed to see the plays that my friends have been involved with and only sporadically attended theater. I’ve failed to see any plays put on at DePaul and Columbia College Chicago, even though attending plays at the latter is something I should have done for my job. This afternoon I commented to my friend Zev that I swear on my battered copy of Sophocles that I’ll see The Right Brain Project’s Marat/Sade

(I also need to see John Conroy’s My Kind of Town at TimeLine Theatre and Angels in America at Court Theatre.)

An unfortunate problem with being raised in the theater is that I still need to be connected to it and fewer things make me happier than writing plays. I struggle with writing prose fiction because I have to perpetually be interested in the characters, which I find easier to do with a play because of how it’s written. Additionally, I genuinely believe that I am a good playwright and I’ve gotten reinforcement on that since I was in 11th grade. 

So today I opened up Scrivener and started a new play. I won’t say what exactly the subject matter is, but it does involve things I should work on in a session with a psychotherapist. Unfortunately there’s a long wait for psychotherapists in Chicago, so this will have to do for the time being so I don’t keep treating my friend in Chicago as a stand-in therapist. 

Let the catharsis through writing begin. 


4 thoughts on “Catharsis

  1. good luck with your new play. therapy can be extremely useful but the pleasure that comes from the writing process is unique and great for the soul. i hope the pages come quickly and you’re happy with the results. as chekhov once advised gorki: “write! write! write!”

  2. ps: i did not mistake you for a man. I know you’re a woman. i know you write the occasional disparaging comment about me on twitter. i still wish you well with your work as one playwright to another.

  3. Mr. LaBute, due to previous incidents I was a bit wary. I am very thankful for your encouragement as I know many young actors and playwrights that admire your work.

  4. i know! i have learned the hard way that people do not like critiques of their critiques. so it goes. as for your writing, i hope that you continue to enjoy the struggles and rewards of a life in the theater.

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