The Four Seasons Of Wounded Knee

The Four Seasons Of Wounded Knee

"The Four Seasons Of Wounded Knee" [] is the generic title for a series of three plays written by Ralph Morse that explore the acting and staging techniques of four major theatrical practitioners. These dramas were written specifically in response to the needs of students and teachers of the Advanced Level General Certificate in Education (GCE) in Theatre Studies in England. First staged at Shenfield High School, Brentwood, England in November 1996 [ "The Four Seasons Of Wounded Knee" at Shenfield High School - VHS Video film by All Media Works (1996]

The Ghost Dance

[ Ralph G. Morse's original annotated script of "The Ghost Dance (copyright 1996)"]

Traces the final years of the policy of "Manifest Destiny" including Sioux Chief Sitting Bull'sabortive journey to the Canadian province, the influence of Wovoka and evolution of the "Ghost Dance" and the final destruction of an ideal at "Wounded Knee". [Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown and published by Vantage books. History of the Native American in the Encyclopedia Britannica] Morse also wrote an original song and musical interludes drawn from ancient and contemporary Native Americana ["Young Can Take The Indian Off the Land ..." words and music by Ralph G. Morse (copyright 1996); Ghost Dance chant, Wounded Knee Theme - music by Ralph G. Morse (copyright 1996); Coincidences and Likely Stories by Buffy Sainte Marie (CD album); Sacred Heart - Traditional Native American Chants with contemporary musical arrangements (CD album)] The piece incorporates ritualistic elements and references the ideas of Antonin Artaud specifically "the theatre of cruelty" [ "The Theatre and Its Double by Antonin Artaud and published by Calder (1985); Collected works Volume 4 by Antonin Artaud, translated by V.Corti and published by Calder (1974)]

Malleus Maleficarum

[ Ralph and Carole Morse's original annotated script of "Malleus Maleficarum" (copyright 1996)]

Co-written with Morse's wife Carole, the title is taken from the medieval tome, "The Hammer of the Witches" [ "Malleus Maleficarum" aka "The Hammer of the Witches" by Heinreich Kramer and James Sprenger and translated by Montague Summers (Braken 1928)] , and follows self appointed Witchfinder General Mattthew Hopkins in his quest against the alleged witches of Colchester, Manningtree and Mistley in Essex, England. [ The Witchcult in Western Europe by Margaret Murray (1921)] Hopkins was an opportunist who was able to turn the backdrop of the English Civil War to his own financial advantage [ A Study of Matthew Hopkins by Montague Summers (Braken)] . This play incorporates two original Morse songs based on period themes [ "Malleus Maleficarum" words and music by Ralph G. Morse (copyright 1996) and "The Legend Of..." words and music by Ralph G. Morse (copyright 1998)] and has an unfolding linear narrative with strong character development and is an ideal piece through which the units and objectives and the super-objective of Constantin Stanislavski can be explored. [ Stanislavksi 3 Volumes - "My Life In Art", "An Actor Prepares" and "Building a Character" (Methuen 1993); "Stanislavksi, an Introduction" (1985) and "Stanislavski a Biography" (1990) both by Jean Norman Benedetti and published by Metheun]

The Bridging Zone

[ Ralph G. Morse's original annotated script of "The Bridging Zone" (copyright 1996)]

Is a stylistic piece incorporating modern and classical imagery within an abstract environment that is outside time and space. Within this paradoxical setting masked characters judge mankind but are themselves puppets of a greater master. [ Morse drew inspiration from "On the Art of the Theatre" by Edward Gordon Craig (including essay on the Actor and the Ubermarionette) (Heinemann 1956)] Under the guidance of Councillor Xantro and the scientific poetry of Professor Poliodorus they must decide whether time-travel should be used to revisit and change history. The production draws much upon the staging ideas of Edward Gordon Craig [ "Craig on the Theatre" by J M Walton (Metheun 1883); "Gordon Craig's Moscow Hamlet by L. Senelick (Greenwood 1982)]

Bertolt Brecht - The Missing Element

As a playwright of international reputation with a phenomenal body of work Bertolt Brecht is unique among the four practitioners explored here. It was therefore never intended that a new work should be written for the project, but rather that a lehrstucke (learning play) would be incorporated into the overall production between "Malleus Malificarum" and "The Bridging Zone.The staging methods employed were specifically Brechtian [Brecht on the Theatre by J Willett (Metheun 1984); Understanding Brecht by W Benjamin (Verso 1992)]

For the first performances of "The Four Seasons of Wounded Knee" held in England in 1996, "The Exception and The Rule" was presented although in subsequent productions this has varied.

The Links

[Ralph G. Morse's annotated scripts for the "Link" scenarios (copyright 1996)]

Although originally intended as a complete work incorporating four separate linked dramas, both "The Ghost Dance" and "Malleus Malificarum" have been extended and performed as separate plays within their own right. The Links are themselves short comical interludes presented by two "Guides" during which the issues raised in one "Season" are reflected upon in preparation for the next drama.These are subtitled : The Chair, The Dream Catcher, You've Been Drinking! and Bar Room Balladeers (a song) [ Based on the original song "Bar Room Balladeers" words and music by Ralph G. Morse (copyright 1982) with new lyrics (copyright 1996).] In an interesting twist the two "Guides" evolve into the characters of Adrapolianic and Castrophar in "The Bridging Zone" which reveals a darker purpose. [ Journalist Robert William's interview with Dr Ralph Morse held in the grounds of Colchester Castle 22nd June 2007] The role of Adrapolianic was played by Dan Wright (comedian) who would later achieve success in the theatre and on television.

References and Sources

External links

* [ Dr Ralph Morse - Official website]
* [ "The Four Seasons Of Wounded Knee" - Official webpage]
* [ Ralph Morse plays at]
* [ Dr Ralph Morse imdb entry]

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