by Rick Curtiss Dramaturg
a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g., faith unfaithful kept him falsely true ).
I learned about this word (I assume in the same way everyone did) from a scene in the 1994 movie Renaissance Man where Danny DeVito’s character explains it to a group of students. I don’t remember anything else about the movie, but the oxymoron scene is etched so deep in my memory that I can still here Danny DeVito say “girly man” over the crackly drive-in speaker.
It was the first time I realized that watching a movie and learning something new could happen simultaneously, which was a revelation to my eleven-year-old mind. Two seemingly opposite things could both be true, education and entertainment, fun and serious,
happy and sadness
happysadness is both an oxymoron and the title of a new play by Chandra Lloyd. Last year it was workshopped in WDA, and this year it is the show performing for the Microburst Theatre Festival–a full production directed by Taylor Hatch and almost entirely created by students and alumni. It is performing in the Nelke this February 23-25. As the dramaturg for happysadness, I would sum up the show as personal and wide reaching / or fictional biography / or simply complicated.
The contrasting title serves it well.
Oxymorons challenge the notion that categorizing is easy; that objects, emotions, experiences and people can be ranked; and that choices are either good or bad.
When seeing opposites together, the viewer must make consideration. “Girly man” puts into question what it means to be a girl and to be a man. Jumbo shrimp allows for different descriptions depending on the viewpoint, and happysadness states that some of the greatest moments happen during the hardest times.
happysadness approaches difficult personal issues while never feeling sorry for itself. It digs deep and is deeply funny. It is rooted in reality and explored through fantasy. It is an oxymoron that demands consideration. I invite you to meet those demands and join us February 23-25. I guarantee that it is better than Renaissance Man.
Also, there are puppets.