Doug Beube
Puck's Arena: A Power Play

2000
altered book, collage, ink, tape
9 1/2 x 7 1/4 x 2 in.
In this work, commissioned by the University of Alberta in honor of Canadian hockey great Wayne Gretzky, playacting and hockey play coalesce around the double sense of p/Puck as sports object and character from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In its cut and altered form, G. B. Harrison's edition of The Complete Works of Shakespeare becomes a miniature setting which could function as either a theatrical set—a proscenium with receding stage flats—or, viewed from another perspective, a theater in the round or a sports arena with stadium bleachers. The removable single leaf with the words drilled out—page 99 in allusion to Gretzky’s team number—resembles not only a stage scrim but a goalie's net, stretched at full width to catch the viewer’s attention (opposite page, top), and is matched on the book’s end paper with the drawing of an ice rink delineated with recognizable hockey lines and circles (opposite page, bottom). These freehand drawings represent fictional strategies which players—either actors or athletes—might take in performing their roles. The tangle of swirling lines forms a frivolous display of absurd stage directions created, perhaps, by the whimsical Puck for the puck, thus performing as he does in Shakespeare’s comedy another act of impish distortion suggesting another type of play-within-a-play.
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