Using Multiple Pasts
'I recall a time when for me theatre was an escape, a place where new worlds better than the real one could be imagined and built . . .. Then I discovered Ntozake Shange, Woodie King and Joseph Papp; Douglas Turner Ward, Barbara Ann Teer, Amiri Baraka [Leroi Jones] -- folks carving out new spaces, or reclaiming old ones but on new terms, their terms. Suddenly theatre wasn't a means of escape, but a viable tool for confronting issues and causing change to occur.'
-- Ricardo Khan
Adding a Third Level of Time involving the use of Multiple Pasts is the most complicated Time Structure going.
Charles Fuller is practically alone in trying Multiple Pasts -- and pulling it off. In A SOLDIER'S PLAY, he uses three levels of time to tell the tale . . .
This 3-layer business was too complicated for Hollywood, so the Present was lopped off for the film version of A SOLDIER'S PLAY. Narrators aren't greeted with open arms in Lotusland anyway. And this transformed his thought-provoking Resolution into a Happy Ending. Now, there's a tradition worth thinking about.
The central character, Davenport, speaks to us as the Narrator -- in the present, or at least some time after the events of the play's Suspense Plot.
The murder investigation the Narrator's been sent to run.
The murder and events leading to it. This " Past-past" runs through the play and is made up of a series of Flashbacks-within-Flashbacks. It's a cinch in production and even in reading. It's only the theory that seems complicated.
And then there's that beast of indeterminate time . . .
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