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http://www.jstor.org Mon May 28 13:48:52 2007
A Conversation with
Richard Foreman and 1 met in his S o H o lofi one morning in October 1987. W e talked all day. Mark Wallace transcribed the tapes, which I edited and Richard Foreman revised in the fall of 1991. -Charles Bernstein
BERNSTEIN: Let me start by asking somethingabout the formatting of your plays in your first two published books: Plays and Manifestoes  and Reverberation Machine . The very first plays that you produced are presented with a great deal of extratextual material. For one thing, as is the convention, you assign every line to a speaker (which seems a better word for your practice than to speak of "characters"). But you also provide-initalics-elaborately detailed descriptions of the visual movement on the stage, sort of like the stage manager's script you refer to in your second book. In sharp contrast, in the text of Egyptology, the last play in Reverberation Machine, you've done a remarkable thing-I don't know if it's unprecedented but I can't think of any playwright, if one wants to call the work "plays," who has formattedtheir work as you have Egyptology: which is essentially as a field, an open field poem. O n the one hand, it's not flush left, like a playscript, but uses the whole "field" of the page; on the other hand, no speakers or characters are assigned parts. At the same time, it's all dialog-and in that sense it isn't quite like a poem-it awaits not only performance of the words but also staging. I don'timagine that this change of format represents much change in your writing. But I wonder about the evolution of how you're presenting the work as writing or as poetry. O f course Reverberation Machine presents a range of formats: some with stage directions, some plays where you assign some but not all of the dialog, and then finally in Egyptology, the last text before the essays, where you reallymake this very radical break. FOREMAN: The plays in the first book were printed as written. In other words, in those days I would indicate in m y notebooks who was talking and I would write extended stage directions as I was trying to imagine what was going on. The language, especially of the early plays, was a kind of process language, a phenomenological language. The whole idea of making, startingagain, registering basic physical events within the language, then decorated with stage activity that I assumed would domiThe Drama Review 36, no. 3 ( T I J ~ Fall 1992 ),
104 Charles Bernstein
I won't turn around. Ithink my back is too expressive and I'm embarassed what it might reveal about my secret self Not at all. Your back reveals nothing. It's a...