Roger and I finally watched Midnight in Paris tonight (sometimes these things take me a while), and all of the protagonist's interactions with writers, artists, and musicians in Paris in the 1920s reminded me of a class I took in high school on 20th century drama.
Over the course of a semester, we read nearly two dozen plays by a wide variety of playwrights, including Thornton Wilder, Henrik Ibsen, Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, Harold Pinter, and Samuel Beckett. The teacher loved every minute and his passion was contagious.
For one of the exams, he had us write a play of our own: a dialogue among three of the playwrights we studied arguing about the purpose of theater. Is it to reflect life? To examine life? To shape life? To distract us from life?
He staged a reading of his favorite, a brilliant and funny exchange written by one of my classmates that not only captured the playwrights' ideas, but their personalities as well.
It was the first time I remember realizing that making a serious study of something did not mean we had to suck the soul out of it.