News | 2010 | Doesn't Anybody Write in Books Anymore?

Four Good Plays to Read and Act by Herman Voaden (editor)

So, I finished Voaden's Four Good Plays to Read and Act, and I've got to say I'm a little disappointed. Apparently, my mother was a good student who didn't really scribble heaps of non-related crap in her books. Everything she's written seems to be copied from the teacher's comments. Okay, I know she was a good student (she ended up getting accelerated and did four grades in two years), but her lack of irreverence and frivolity was a little frustrating. I'd really hoped to get an insight into a younger her and it just never happened. Although, to give her credit, the book didn't really seem to be the kind that encouraged defacing--or maybe it was just the time she was in high school (the 1940s). In fact, Voaden, in his introduction, apologizes for including plays with "oaths" in them (he means the words "Hell" and "damn"). If society at the time publically avoided a harsher reality, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised my mother didn't rebel and write juicy stuff in the book.

A Book of Good Plays by Ronald J. McMaster (editor)

Okay, that being said, the book I just finished, Ronald J. McMaster's, A Book of Good Plays, was from my time (the 1980s) and should have no excuse. Although the book wasn't mine, it did do the rounds at my high school when I was there (it must have ended its days as my dad's teaching copy when he taught English). When I was in school, I remember finding swear words, TLAs (true love always), insults, and treasure hunts throughout school copies (a treasure hunt being "turn to page 42" and then "go to page 84" until you finally find the payoff message buried in the book after many page-turnings). Self-aware doodles that the writers/defacers knew would be read again. I've even seen textbooks from the 1960s where girls have practiced their married signatures, coupling their first names with the last names of their current or wished-for boyfriends. All socially telling stuff. McMaster's book started out well--someone (there's a list of three students' names in the book, but I'm not going to share those)--had changed the "good" to "gay" on the inside cover and there's a colour doodle of a vagina on page 56--but that's about it. No juice. No insight. No other student-added content. Just a little bit of pointless rudeness.

While I enjoyed reading the plays (some more than others), I was hoping for a little more from the previous readers. Something beyond teacher's comments and pure shock value. Something to let me know who these people were and the times they lived in. Although, now that I think of it, they did do that. In their own way. Maybe the forties were about public conformity. Maybe the sixties were about wishing for a better world. Maybe the eighties were about profane cynicism. Maybe. Something to think about, anyway.

Back to 2010 News [...]