For the first event, I attended the Spotlight Players’ production of the play Leaves; it details the recovery of a family composed of a mother, father, and three sisters during the aftermath of the oldest sister’s attempted suicide. Plays have a general tendency to mimic literature in general themes and movements, and more often than not share numerous literary devices. Leaves focused on the repercussions for the eldest daughter as she returns from a failed attempt to kill herself after her first semester at college. She cites pressure as a main cause, and an inability to fit in; this pressure can also be seen in John Donne’s “The Flea”, a poem in which a man struggles to convince his love to sleep with him outside of the bonds of marriage. He maintains that since their blood has already been mixed in a flea that has bitten the both of them, they are already one and the same, and sleeping together would carry no “sin, nor shame.” He compares the flea to their relationship, and argues that in that, they are more intimate than marriage; this is a poor example, however, as fleas have negative connotations, as well as a short life span. Just as the love of the narrator of Donne’s poem suffers from pressure from her lover and his expectations, Lori endures the pressure of her peers and her family’s expectations.
Conversely, his poem “A Valediction, Forbidden Mourning” speaks of a relationship free of pressure, but rather is secure in the belief that they are meant for each other. The narrator speaks of his unconditional love for his beloved, and how he remains devoted to her no matter where she goes. This most closely resembles the role of Lori’s family within Leaves; they remain supportive of her throughout her entire ordeal, and try to be as understanding as they possibly can. They agree to do whatever it takes to make her feel better, or at least return to the happy family they once were. This poem provides a sharp contrast to the love expressed in Donne’s previous poem, as “The Flea” implies that the narrator’s love depends heavily on the physical aspects of his beloved, while “A Valediction, Forbidden Mourning” depicts a love that seems almost entirely based on emotions.
“Fox Trot Fridays” by Rita Dove is yet another love poem, yet hers speaks of a night once a week during which lovers simply love, and allow themselves to be happy within the relationship. This compares to the various points in Leaves when the family would reminisce upon happier times, such as family dinners and vacations. The poem also implies that these moments are sacred, untouchable by troubles or quarrels, untainted by any sort of discord that may be occurring. This also rings true for the fond times recalled by the family in Leaves, as they try to backtrack through the last few years and figure out when exactly Lori began to feel less than content with life. Their motivations cannot stain these moments, however, and the few happy moments within the play occur during these flashbacks of better times.
Conversely to the previous poems, “Memorandum” by Billie Bolton does not express what the author loves in a person, but rather, what she hates; by creating this comparison, she hopes to find someone who does not possess any of these qualities. This is similar to Lori’s numerous outbursts throughout the play, during which she reprimands her helpless family members for the different things they do that bother her, rather than capitalizing on their efforts to make her feel better or the things they do that makes her love them.