One week (okay, 4 days–eek!) left, one more blog post to go, a whole laundry list of things to accomplish. (Plus, you know, packing for school and writing a thesis proposal and getting ready for theatre auditions and all that jazz. No big deal.) My goal for this week is to finish all my analysis, and then to leave the actual compilation and organization of my research for next week–technically beyond the 7-week time period of my project, but it will be a) before the final due date and b) necessary for a satisfactory completion of my project.
Which brings us to a very important point: research can (and perhaps should?) take way more time than you think it will. But when your time is very distinctly limited, you have to make choices about what to pursue. During my week in Washington I came across a number of sources and leads that presented tantalizing options for further research. For instance: Grace, the play I’m working on now, was originally produced in the UK under the title On Religion. In an effort to clarify what may be a typo or may be a particularly enigmatic line in the text of Grace I found select pages from the script of On Religion–and realized that they were substantially different from the text I had been using. Fascinating! What contrasts, what insight into the play’s development, what bonus Easter Eggs of information had the playwrights and editors deemed unfit for American eyes?
I eagerly started to order a copy of the UK text–and then stopped myself. Realizing that I had only a week and a half and a considerable amount of analysis left, I had to ask myself–do I have time for this new area of investigation and is it imperative to my research goals? The latter answer was no, so the former answer reluctantly followed suit. Comparing the two scripts would be fascinating and is absolutely something I would do in an actual production of the play, but would not definitively contribute to what I am trying to achieve with this project in the time I have left.
So that was kind of a bummer lesson to learn, if you’ll pardon the informality. I wish I had infinite time to pursue all the opportunities opening up before me–because that, I feel, is what research is really about. One off-hand reference will lead you down fascinating new paths. However, time is always a factor so I do have to be realistic about what I can achieve.
On a more positive note, I found a book published by one of Grace‘s playwrights containing the interviews he conducted with notable UK thinkers, both pro- and anti-religion, which he used as the basis for the play. There are passages from the book, anecdotes or quotes from the interviewees, which found their way verbatim into the script. It’s basically a blueprint for the play, and it’s awesome. The book is called Conversations On Religion and I highly recommend it as a fascinating read providing all sorts of opinions on the role of religion in today’s world. I will say that Richard Dawkins’s interview made me throw the book across the room (and then rant to my startled but understanding father) but Karen Armstrong’s chapter restored my faith in humanity. Read some Karen Armstrong, y’all. The woman knows her stuff.
Productive procrastination is over, time to return to the grindstone!