« Some Things Never Change | Main | Reading Empathy »

The Play That Never Ends


. . . . This is where you came in. We have to go on for ages and ages yet.

You go home.

The end of this play isn't written yet."

~page 121 of Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth

This was an interesting way to end the play. It makes sense since it essentially takes this one family through all different time periods. Also, it seems to mirror life in an odd way. As long as someone has a story to tell, there can't be a true ending, not really. That is what the end of this play seems to comment on. The play doesn't have an end because there is no end. The time line just continues onward.

Also, it was interesting how it circles back to the beginning. I wonder if this is a common thing for absurdist plays to do. I know that The Bald Soprano and The Lesson, which the Theatre Department put on last semester, did this as well. The combined effects of this and the lack of true ending model life. Events in real life often go in circles at times, and time moves on.

Comments (3)

Aja Hanah:

I think the play is also meant to show that life circles (circle of life, history repeats itself) and in more ways than one. Not just people doing the same actions or having the same problems, but the Earth itself goes through cycles of tropical, ice ages, and in between. We just don't feel the effects because its over a span of millions of years and we each (individually and as a society) don't/haven't lived that long.

It's interesting that you bring up the endings to The Bald Soprano and The Lesson because they seem to have a much more negative implication than The Skin of Our Teeth, in my opinion. In The Bald Soprano, the fact that the play starts all over again made it seem like the characters were doomed to repeat the same meaningless rituals over and over again without any hope of achieving real communication. (At least, that's what it felt like to me acting in it.) The Lesson was similar in that there seemed to be no end to the students showing up at the door without any hope of Marie or the Professor ever successfully stopping the violence that always occurs.
In The Skin of Our Teeth, the circular ending actually feels kind of hopeful to me. After seeing these characters survive the Ice Age, a flood, and war, it's reassuring that they can return to the beginning and start all over again. I agree with Aja that it represents the cycles the world goes through and signifies the endurance of the human race. I guess part of the difference between this and the Ionesco plays is that in The Bald Soprano and The Lesson real irreparable damage occurs to the characters throughout the play; when it starts all over again, we know they won't be able to survive. Bad things happen to the characters in The Skin of Our Teeth, but we know that the family will still come together and remain strong in the end.

Jennifer Prex:

I agree, Matt. The ending of The Skin of Our Teeth definitely does have a different feel than the other two plays. I just mentioned them because they too ended by circling back to the beginning. That's one of the first things that came to mind when I finished reading this play.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 4, 2009 7:13 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Some Things Never Change.

The next post in this blog is Reading Empathy.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.