Category Archives: intern

History of the “F” Word

katie'sheaderphotoby Katie Freeman

Currently we are in previews for Boston Court’s production of Stupid F**king Bird. The F word is used a lot during the show, which made me curious as to how the word became such a bad word nowadays. Was it always considered bad? I decided to investigate.

The exact etymology of the word is hard to trace, but there are some similar words from history that we can safely assume brought about modern day’s most versatile curse word in the English language. When looking at the word’s early beginnings, we need to look pretty far back.  In an article from the Huffington Post: “The f-word is of Germanic origin, related to Dutch, German, and Swedish words for ‘to strike’ and ‘to move back and forth'” (Mohr). adeleAnother article from Vanity Fair writes: “[…] the word initially appeared in a satirical poem composed sometime around 1500 that takes aim at the Carmelite friars of Cambridge. […] Drained of its cryptic Latin and less cryptic cryptology, ‘non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk’ begets ‘they are not in heaven because they f*ck wives of Ely [a town near Cambridge].'” (Weiner). And yet, Dictionary.com claims: “It is remotely derived from the Latin futuere and Old German ficken/fucken meaning ‘to strike or penetrate’, which had the slang meaning ‘to copulate'” (Dictionary.com).

The general consensus seems to be that the word’s derivatives are descriptive of a verb that means movement. At first, it doesn’t seem like this would be negative. But, according to Slate.com, “F#ck has always been an offensive word” (Tsai). fornicate the authoritesIn Mohr’s article from the Huffington Post, “Only in the early to mid-nineteenth century did it begin to be used non-literally, as most swearwords are, to insult and offend others, to relieve pain, and to express extremes of emotion, negative and positive.” It all has to do with the time period of which the cursing is taking place. “But what determines the words our society categorizes as too taboo to say? Mohr says swearing “reflects our cultural obsessions,” so whatever topic is considered obscene or problematic in our culture can be implicated in the curse words we use” (Bloom, Teich).

In the recent film, Wolf of Wall Street, the word is used 506 times. Many may think that this is used too much. However, ask any American high school-er about the language used in everyday interactions between peers. The word “f#ck” is typically now used almost as frequently as the word “like.” Makes you feel all warm inside, doesn’t it? In the opinion of a CNN writer, “I remember the teachers who tried to convince me that the main problem with the f-word was not its power to offend, but the evidence it gave of your limited vocabulary. I blew that criticism off back then, but I’m beginning to think they were onto something” (Clark).

mpaa-ratings-reasons-PG+Source: Randal S. Olson

The usage of foul language is in forms of media: movies, tv, music, etc. The graph above reveals an interesting trend in the usage of mature elements (language, sex, violence, drugs) in movies rated PG+ since 1991.

Even on TV, during intense scenes that you would normally expect any normal person to curse, the shows contain odd words that are supposed to replace expletives. During an interview with NPR’s pop-culture blogger, Linda Holmes, Neda Ulaby reported, “Maybe you remember all the characters employing their own F-word — ‘frack’ — on Battlestar Galactica. frakHolmes finds made-up curse words distracting. ‘If you know that frack is just f- – – , it feels phony,’ she says. ‘It takes away from the moment.'” Holmes also brings up the fact that many non-cable channels are now looser with language, “ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox don’t allow characters to use the S-word, let alone the F-word. But that said, these days words such as ‘dick’ and ‘bitch’ — which would’ve been found too vulgar just a decade ago — are bandied about even on Glee and other shows that draw younger audiences.”

On cable TV, there are some shows that have a quota for foul language. Breaking Bad has such a rule; once they reach the limit, the expletives are silenced out. It is good to note that because society shifts its values as time marches on, so do the power of curse words. According to Mohr, “other types of cursing, like referencing sex or excrement, ‘were not powerful in the Middle Ages because . . . they did in public a lot of the things that we do privately and are ashamed of.’ When bodily functions are out in the open, society doesn’t need taboo words for them.” However, during the Renaissance, “as privacy increased, words that had been acceptable to use in the Middle Ages became taboo” (Mohr). This shift in values and thus influence of curse words continues today. Which sparks another question: Now that the F word is used so frequently, will it lose its effect? History will agree this is a good assumption, but, how soon will we tire of the F word?

How much longer will we continue to use f#ck until it becomes obsolete?

Sources: A Brief History of Swearing, What the $@** Is Up On Cable These Days?, The F-Word Is Everywhere, A Concise History of “Fuck”, A F*cking Short History on the F-Word, Whence the !@#$?, What is the origin of the F word?.

@BoCoIntern: My Thoughts about Stupid F–king Bird

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By Katie Freeman

I am the summer 2014 intern for The Theatre @ Boston Court. Here’s a link to tell you more about me. One of my first assignments as an intern was to read the script for Boston Court’s upcoming play, Stupid Fucking Bird, by Aaron Posner. Here are my thoughts as a member of the artistic community, as well as a member of Generation Y.

This play is an adaptation of The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov (or as the playwright labels it: “a sort-of adaptation”). Unless you are a theater person, you probably don’t know much about the playwright Anton Chekhov. However, for the purpose of reading my response, all you really need to know was that he was a Russian playwright in the 1800’s.

While reading the play, I found myself guffawing over the dialogue and how wonderfully terrible the characters are with handling hardships. They each lament over why they are unhappy and what they want, but can’t have. I especially appreciated the perspective in this line:

“Will anyone care in 100 years? About the muffins. Or the color of your kitchen cabinets. Or the relative success of your… backyard meta-theatrical skit.”          – Trig, Stupid Fucking Bird

The frequent laughter this play provokes gives it a clear, separate identity from The Seagull. Posner takes Chekhov’s oh-so-carefully placed subtleties, and forces them out in the open in Stupid Fucking Bird.

What I thought the playwright captured very well was the constant discussion of existentialism in almost all of Chekhov’s plays. Characters asking, “Why am I here?” “What’s the point of living?” “What’s it all worth?” can get really annoying, really fast. What’s nice about Stupid Fucking Bird is that it makes fun of this relentless questioning, and it never answers these questions. Essentially, you as the audience member decides what the meaning of your life is. There is no all-encompassing meaning provided for you.

The main character in the play, Conrad, is the most wounded of the cast. Okay, to be fair, all of the characters are wounded for one reason or another, which is why they are easy to relate to. Personally, I like that the constant complaining is over-dramatized in this adaptation. For example, characters at one point stand facing the audience (Chorus Line fashion) and talk about their problems through repetition of the same phrases, to the effect of: “THIS REALLY SUCKS. MY LIFE IS HARD. WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN TO ME?”

The characters in the play deal with self-inflicted unhappiness while actively pursuing a sort of martyrdom by continually discussing their problems. They all expect things to happen for them, rather than making things happen for themselves. They go through the motions of living their lives, and when things don’t go their way, instead of finding an alternative solution, they sit there and pout and complain to anyone who will listen. This is an issue that is still relevant…I can’t tell you how many times I am told my generation has problems with standing on their own two feet. Or, is lazy when it comes to creating opportunities for themselves.

If Chekhov could conceive of people who deal with these character flaws back in the 1800’s…maybe it’s not just my generation that is plagued with being lazy and helpless.

Maybe the human experience is just too much for some people. I think this trait is exhibited in people of all age groups, since maturity has little to do with age.

Another aspect of Stupid Fucking Bird which makes it unique is the frequent shattering of the 4th wall. This makes it difficult to get into the story and suspend your disbelief, which is what American audiences are so used to. In fact, the audience is asked many times for advice regarding the events that unfold in the characters’ lives, in real-time. The jolting effect of being continuously brought out of the mentality our brains go into while watching a show is intentionally supposed to be uncomfortable.

If you end up watching the show feeling on edge, you’re probably doing it right.

The number one thing I took from this show is that there is not always a clear answer. For people who like to problem-solve (myself included), this is a tough pill to swallow.

Another audience tip: Don’t get on your phone immediately after the show goes to intermission and/or ends. One of the aspects of theater is that you get to observe a live experience with complete strangers, after which you have the opportunity to discuss and share ideas. I challenge you to take a few moments to either silently process it in your head, or to talk about it.

I realize I may have presented this play as bleak, but it is hilarious and handles the angst-y plot points with just the right amount of dark humor for comic relief. Let it affect you, and see where you end up. Your life may not be shaken to its core, but this is undoubtedly a great piece of theater. If anything, you will get a killer ab workout from laughing.

The Wall of Death

death 1by Emily Abbott

I’ve gathered you all together to talk about the subject few people shy away from: death.  Now before you cringe and turn away this isn’t going to make you cry or anything terribly dramatic…I hope.  Death is the main theme of Alcestis and it’s the elephant in every room, all the time, constantly.  The play begs the audience to confront their own mortality and the mystery around it.  As a way to get audiences involved with the show we’ve started a wall with postcards that ask our audiences to finish the sentence, “Before I die, I want to…”

It can be a heavy question to answer.  What would you want to do before you die? Answering it, even as a joke, forces you accept your own mortality and confront your own values.  That can be hard to do for some people.  As Candy Chang, our inspiration for the wall, says in her TED talk, reflecting on your death focuses you, and forces you to rethink how you want to live.  It’s been interesting to see the different responses that death 4show up on our growing wall.

As our collage is gets bigger and bigger, the responses get more creative.  It’s entertaining to see how people respond to the question. Some answers are sarcastic; some are daring, some illegal, but most are genuine (let’s hope the “MURDER” one was a joke). Many revolve around the idea of traveling and new experiences.  People want to go everywhere from Greece to Bali to Bakersfield, and many places in between.  (Additionally, a lot of people want to see the Northern Lights, so I’m proposing a Boston Court trip, who’s in?) There are hopeful, idealistic responses, “I want to see peace on earth.”  Some allude to long life like, “I want to see my grandchildren.”  It’s truly amazing to see how original people are like my personal favorite, “Have a drink with Bob Dylan.” death 2Better yet, “try heroin.”

Personally, I’ve always dealt with tragedy by seeing the humor in things.  This is one of my favorite aspects of Alcestis.  I know that sounds like a shameless plug, but honestly the mixture of laughter and sadness make the piece THAT much more palatable.  If we didn’t laugh, we would cry.  One of my favorites is a card that was put next to the fire alarm saying, “I want to warn people about a fire.” Someone’s witty! Another one says, “I want to cheat death and laugh in it’s face,” don’t we all.

So what is the benefit of reflecting on death and preparing for it? I am 22, about to start my last year of college, and my adventures into actual adulthood (college is pretend).  Whendeath 3 I ask myself what I want to do before I die, it allows me to see more honestly how I want to live my life, and the decisions I will make.  Activities like this one are helping me make choices to ensure that I live without regrets. I think the biggest fear for many of us would be getting to that fateful moment and say to ourselves, “No wait! I haven’t gone skydiving yet!” Here’s to hoping we all reach that moment with peace in hearts because you crossed, “having a threesome” off your list.

PS: To the person looking to perfect the cookie, I  think I can help you out

death 5 death 6

I Volunteer as Intern! Week 3 Update

EmilyBy Emily Abbott

Hey there, Boston Courtiers!

I have now been @ Boston Court for almost 3 weeks, and I am having a blast. As a theatre student, it’s interesting to feel yourself using the knowledge you’ve acquired while in school in a practical way.  I can only describe it as the growing hope that maybe I can be a functioning adult in the near future.  That’s a good feeling! And everyone here is so willing to teach and answer any questions that I might have.

To give a little context to the rest of the post I thought I’d provide some background on myself. I am theatre and history double major at Occidental College about to start my senior year.  I have experience in production and stage management as well as prop design, scene painting and a little playwriting.  These skills are helping me do my job here but there are a lot of things that I am learning along the way. I spend time doing research and talking to the people I am working with.  Everything I am doing here is relevant, good theatre work, but much of it is new for me.

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The Intern Saga Episode 8: So Long, Farewell… (aka: My Generation)

Aufweiderschen, Goodbye.

Today is my final day in the role of the Intern here at Boston Court. Sad face, sad life. But also a happy day, for I brought cupcakes to the Court (and we all know that when cupcakes are at Boston Court, it’s automatically a good day). While I am eager to get back to school and continue my training, I will deeply miss the Boston Court staff and community. I’m glad that I discovered Boston Court this summer because it really is a gem of a theatre. I will not, however, miss being called an assortment of names that were not “Kelsey” throughout my time here… namely Chelsea, Kiki, Keeks, Keekster, KelKel, Casey, Intern, and Izzy to name a few.

So for my final blog entry, I’ve decided to leave you with some parting words about my generation, for another Intern from my generation will soon replace me come June 2013. And so on and so forth.

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Intern Vloga Episode 2

The Intern Saga Episode 7: Timing!

Timing’s such a funny little creature, isn’t it?

I attended the opening night production of The Government Inspector, and, having seen the show already twice before during previews and rehearsals, I had prepared myself for a show that would be changed once again, whether it be in its script, staging, lighting, etc. I just wasn’t expecting to be completely blown away by the completely tighter production than I had seen before. The show had changed again! But this time, the change was the timing. They nailed the timing and the focus of the play, and the play beautifully became the play it was supposed to be.

Timing can make, or break, any event. Really truly.

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