May 2, 2014 by

The ballet metaphor


Categories: base instruments, development, looking ahead, themes, Tags: , , , ,


I’ve always been fascinated by the art of ballet. First of all, I just find it beautiful, a pure pleasure to watch. But from an intellectual standpoint I’m enthralled by the contradictions. It is viewed as a very delicate, refined art, coded feminine in most modern people’s eyes. But those who practice it at the highest levels is run like an army with just as much discipline. The dancers look frail and delicate, but they have to be unimaginably fit and strong, not to mention able to endure an enormous amount of pain. The dance is so demanding that careers tends to be very short, as many ballet dancers end up physically destroyed by the effort. The image of the broken down ballerina— whose tragedy is that she can no longer practice what she has sacrificed everything to be able to do —is one I return to again and again in my writing.

I find this could make for a perfect parallel to Mrs. Hawking. I want the next story to include a ballerina who is facing inevitable breakdown in order to use her as a metaphor for everything Mrs. Hawking fears. Her work, which involves so much physical punishment, will eventually wear her body down, and age will at some point make it so she can no longer continue. The ballerina character will speak to this part of her, and cause her to ponder how she will eventually address this.

This could tie nicely into the protégé conflict, where she will be trying to mold Mary into a new version of herself. Her fear of her not being able to do her work anymore will motivate her to make Mary into someone she feels like she can trust to properly carry things on— literally, another her. We will see that things won’t exactly go her way on that score, but Mary will in time prove capable of taking up the mantle, if not exactly in the manner Mrs. Hawking initially hopes.

The staged reading of Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will go up on June 10th at 8PM at with the Bare Bones reading series, brought to you by Theatre@First.

4 Responses to The ballet metaphor

    • Phoebe Post author

      Thank you! I’m really glad it sounds good to you. Haven’t worked out all the kinks of it, but I think the central idea is sound.

  1. Justin du Coeur

    A thought to consider (and my apologies if this isn’t a good time for this point): if she’s beginning to think in those terms, you may want to explore her thoughts on mortality, at least slightly. This line of thinking is one of the major causes of religion, and I have to suspect that this would be interesting and unsettling to her — she’s lived a life that probably didn’t leave much room for her to consider becoming old and frail.

    Also, the transition from Doer to Teacher can be a hard one to contemplate for someone whose self-image is so bound up in what she does. Odds are that she would become a tad resentful of Mary, even if she would never admit it to herself…

    • Phoebe Post author

      Thanks for the input! Those will be important questions to consider. I haven’t seriously begun to tackle this whole story yet, it’s till in the early planning stages, but I will definitely have to address these things as I move forward. Interestingly, my gut impulse is that mortality is a hell of a lot less scary for her than the idea of being alive, frail, and useless. The transition from Doer to Teacher is one I hadn’t quite thought through as well, but now that you mention it, I think you’re definitely right that it would be a hard one for her. Resentment of Mary and of her loss of personal agency will have to be something I include! So thanks for pointing all this out.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.