Tag Archives: What we see when we read

What is a Samovar?

From Three Sisters
[Enter CHEBUTIKIN followed by a soldier with a silver samovar; there is a rumble of dissatisfied surprise.]

OLGA. [Covers her face with her hands] A samovar! That’s awful [Exit into the dining-room, to the table.]

IRINA. My dear Ivan Romanovitch, what are you doing!

TUZENBACH. [Laughs] I told you so!

MASHA. Ivan Romanovitch, you are simply shameless!

CHEBUTIKIN. My dear good girl, you are the only thing, and the dearest thing I have in the world. I’ll soon be sixty. I’m an old man, a lonely worthless old man. The only good thing in me is my love for you, and if it hadn’t been for that, I would have been dead long ago…. [To IRINA] My dear little girl, I’ve known you since the day of your birth, I’ve carried you in my arms… I loved your dead mother….

MASHA. But your presents are so expensive!

CHEBUTIKIN. [Angrily, through his tears] Expensive presents…. You really, are!… [To the orderly] Take the samovar in there…. [Teasing] Expensive presents!

Samovar 2Samovar 1

A samovar (literally “self-brewer”) is a heated metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water in Russia…Though traditionally heated with coal or charcoal, many newer samovars use electricity to heat water in a manner similar to an electric water boiler. Antique samovars are often prized for their beautiful workmanship.

Samovar @ wikipedia

Set design visualization exercise – Quartermain’s Terms, Simon Gray

The Set
The staff room of the Cull-Loomis School of English for foreigners, Cambridge, or rather a section of the staff room – the last quarter of it. On stage are French windows, a long table, lockers for members of the staff, pegs for coats, etc., and a number of armchairs; on the table a telephone, newspapers and magazines. This is the basic set, to which, between scenes and between the two acts, additions can be made to suggest the varying fortunes of the school. Offstage, left, a suggestion of hard-backed chairs, and off left, a door to the main corridor of the school, where the classrooms are.
The Period
Early 1960’s

How would you do it? How does it look in your head? From two different productions:
Continue reading Set design visualization exercise – Quartermain’s Terms, Simon Gray

Revelation, by Flannery O’Connor – beautiful clock

The short story, Revelation, by Flannery O’Connor, starts off with a Mrs Turpin in a doctor’s waiting room with her husband Claud…

“That’s a beautiful clock,” she said and nodded to her right. It was a big wall clock, the face encased in a brass sunburst.

“Yes, it’s very pretty,” the stylish lady said agreeably. “And right on the dot too,” she added, glancing at her watch.

The ugly girl beside her cast an eye upward at the clock, smirked, then looked directly at Mrs. Turpin and smirked again. Then she returned her eyes to her book. She was obviously the lady’s daughter because, although they didn’t look anything alike as to disposition, they both had the same shape of face and the same blue eyes. On the lady they sparkled pleasantly but in the girl’s seared face they appeared alternately to smolder and to blaze.

This is what I imagined, more or less, based on clocks I had seen in real life, or on TV. I think there was a vogue for this sort of thing in the 60’s and 70’s.

Revelation Clock --vintage-clocks-antique-clocks

To my mind it is kind of loud and garish. Does Mrs. Turpin really think it’s beautiful or is she just making conversation? Where’s her head at?

Mark Winegardner references this scene in the essay – Learning to Lie: An Exercise in Details, which was in the book Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer.