History Headscratchers / Rent

2nd Apr '16 5:55:17 AM Sheepeditor
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** Except that The Man (here personified by Benny) ''is'' doing something for them, by allowing them to live in a building rent-free (a luxury that many people on impossibly low income would die for). He later goes back on his eviction notice despite the protest going ahead, which suggests that it may have been an empty threat all along. He also ends up paying for both Angel's funeral and Mimi's rehab. This whole issue continues to be a point of contention between the show's fans and its detractors: some of the characters often go out of their way to ''avoid'' earning money honestly out of supposed principle or dedication to their art, but are still happy to let rich friends and family pay their way for them, or even re-wire ATM machines to steal from banks. The play even points out that both Mark and Maureen's championing of the homeless is also self-serving, and arguably not actually helping the homeless that much. Whether you sympathise with the main characters or not mostly ends up being a matter of personal perspective.
2nd Apr '16 5:41:29 AM Sheepeditor
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** Possibly also because Musetta's Waltz is simply the most recognisable theme from ''LaBoheme''.
27th Jan '16 10:43:13 PM kanskje
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** Mark is an observer, living vicariously through his friends. "That night" (Christmas Eve) brought together what elsewhere in the play is referred to as a "family" - Roger and Mimi, but also Angel and Collins, and acquainted Mark and Joanne, and Angel and everyone else (and Angel is the heart and conscience of the play.) This "connection" is what sets everything that happens over the next 12 months in motion, when what Mark might have done every other day was go to the protest with Collins, and then go home to Roger.




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** Roger isn't really trying to "go" anywhere - he's just trying to get out. That's what Mimi calls him out for - always being "run away, hit the road, don't commit". He can't deal with what is happening so he wants to bail. Collins puts the idea of Santa Fe in his head, and it probably seems as good an option as any, considering what Roger is really trying to do is escape himself.




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** This is one of the elements that hasn't aged well in the play. Interestingly, when the Original Broadway Cast reunited for the film, ten years on, they acknowledged that their read of the play as adults was different - that there is a petulance to the Bohemian characters and their behaviour. But also, Manhattan - and specifically Alphabet City - was financially destitute at this point in time, historically. Artsy types were drawn there purely for the vibes even when they came from better backgrounds (Mark for example is firmly middle class and still in contact with his parents, as is Joanne, whose parents seem to be political figures of some kind), but plenty of people were also living that way out of necessity. The block where the apartment is is described as a "tent city" and is full of homeless and addicts and people dying from a poorly understood, worse-treated disease. Mark and Roger (per the title song) feel like they're witnessing the worst of humanity - their former Bohemian friend Benny trying to run out the homeless and the destitute that he used to live with - and their response is that paying rent is paying "The Man", and the man isn't doing anything for them, so why should they?
27th Jan '16 10:31:08 PM kanskje
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*** On Broadway it is abundantly clear she has heroin with her when she goes to see Roger. Carrying AZT with her doesn't really mean anything - a lot of AIDS patients were taking up to 15 doses a day at this point in time.

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*** ** On Broadway at least it is abundantly clear she has heroin with her when she goes to see Roger. Carrying AZT with her doesn't really mean anything - a lot of AIDS patients were taking up to 15 doses a day at this point in time.



**** The Roger/April heroin flashback only happens in be film. That's a specific artistic choice, but it's not canon to the play.



**** The Roger/April heroin flashback only happens in be film. That's a specific artistic choice, but it's not canon to the play.



*** I think this is it. Roger is dealing with a lot emotionally around his illness because of the death of his girlfriend, who died because they shared drugs - he might feel a degree of responsibility there. He's also definitely attracted to Mimi (this is clear in "Light My Candle") and from the lyrics to the song he knows something would happen ("our temperatures would climb, there'd be a long embrace..."). It's a breakthrough moment for Roger because not knowing what to do about Mimi is part of what gets him out of the house finally, but he responds aggressively probably because he's as angry at himself as he is at her.

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*** I think this is it. Roger is dealing with a lot emotionally around his illness because of the death of his girlfriend, who died because they shared drugs - he might feel a degree of responsibility there. He's also definitely attracted to Mimi (this is clear in "Light My Candle") and from the lyrics to the song he knows something would happen ("our temperatures would climb, there'd be a long embrace..."). It's a breakthrough moment for Roger because not knowing what to do about Mimi is part of what gets him out of the house finally, but he responds aggressively probably because he's as angry at himself as he is at her. It's also justifiable he would be angry that she brought heroin into the apartment at all, since he is only a recently recovered addict.



*** She's also 19. She doesn't have it all worked out, even when she claims
otherwise ("if you're so wise then tell me, why do you need smack?"). She refers to herself as "old for her age" and "born to be bad", both very 19-year-old things to say. "No day but today", "Today 4 U" and the other maxims of the play are interpreted differently by different characters in the play - Mimi uses the same logic to try to lure Roger out to do heroin with her that the Life Support meeting does to support people who know they're going to die. Those different interpretations are part of the characterisation.

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*** She's also 19. She doesn't have it all worked out, even when she claims
claims otherwise ("if you're so wise then tell me, why do you need smack?"). She refers to herself as "old for her age" and "born to be bad", both very 19-year-old things to say. "No day but today", "Today 4 U" and the other maxims of the play are interpreted differently by different characters in the play - Mimi uses the same logic to try to lure Roger out to do heroin with her that the Life Support meeting does to support people who know they're going to die. Those different interpretations are part of the characterisation.



*** Also, Roger is pissed because he's just found out Mimi has had some kind of contact with Benny, since Benny claims (sleazily) it was Mimi who convinced him to let them back in the house.




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** A few alternate possibilities: Roger is a former addict and knows where to get drugs. AZT is one of the drugs the street dealers are selling. Collins had (until recently) a job, and could have been helping out. Some AZT was distributed by the government in what were essentially trials on the general population, and Roger could have gotten it this way.



** Joanne ''is'' a practicing lawyer and does have friends outside of the ''RENT'' cast: She's shown once discussing cases with other lawyers on the phone, and in the same song also trading gossip and stories about friends and coworkers, and her parents talk about her obligations to other people than Maureen. In fact, her parents talk ''down'' to her because of what she does with Maureen, pointing out that "those unwed teenage mothers need [her] help, too" (Exact wording? I'm not sure) and acting confused/surprise when she says she's working on Maureen's production. It all implies that she's a crusading social justice lawyer, very active in that scene with lawyer co-workers and like friends, who has only ''just now'' started hanging out in the style of the show after getting involved with Maureen.

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** Joanne ''is'' a practicing lawyer and does have friends outside of the ''RENT'' cast: She's shown once discussing cases with other lawyers on the phone, and in the same song also trading gossip and stories about friends and coworkers, and her parents talk about her obligations to other people than Maureen. In fact, her parents talk ''down'' to her because of what she does with Maureen, pointing out that "those unwed teenage mothers in Harlem need [her] help, too" (Exact wording? I'm not sure) and acting confused/surprise when she says she's working on Maureen's production. It all implies that she's a crusading social justice lawyer, very active in that scene with lawyer co-workers and like friends, who has only ''just now'' started hanging out in the style of the show after getting involved with Maureen.
** Joanne's parents are important (political figures?), but it's clear from their phone message for her that she has an artsy streak - "No Doc Martens this time. And wear a dress. And a bra-". She also has "friends at Legal Aid" - so it's reasonable to assume she genuinely feels part of this community. She's also gay, and in the late 80s politically that maybe makes her a better fit with queer artsy friends than with other lawyers - she had to meet Maureen somewhere.




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** We don't really know how long it has been since Benny moved out. Benny's relationship with Mimi (whatever it consisted of) reportedly happened "three months ago", which is well within the realm of Roger's "half a year of withdrawals". It's also not clear whether Benny even lived there at this point, or if he was already married, which would make the relationship an illicit affair anyway - there may be no reason for Benny to have ever brought Mimi into contact with any of the others (although we do know Roger does recognise Mimi, apparently from the Cat Scratch Club, but possibly also because he's seen her elsewhere.)




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** He was fired, and it's not established he was a lecturer or professor, just some kind of teacher - tutors, especially grad students, don't necessarily make much money. In terms of how he feels about his work, we know he lost faith in MIT because they were ignoring "actual reality". Being gainfully employed doesn't seem to get much love in this community anyway - see also Mark and Buzzline.
27th Jan '16 10:07:11 PM kanskje
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** Remember also that Roger is essentially a shut-in at the start of the play. There's no reason for him to believe that anyone other than Mark (who he knows doesn't have a key - Collins has that) would be at the door.

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** Remember also that Roger is essentially a shut-in at the start of the play. Collins makes a point of saying that he doesn't even answer the phone. There's no reason for him to believe that anyone other than Mark (who he knows doesn't have a key - Collins has that) would be at the door.




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*** She's also 19. She doesn't have it all worked out, even when she claims
otherwise ("if you're so wise then tell me, why do you need smack?"). She refers to herself as "old for her age" and "born to be bad", both very 19-year-old things to say. "No day but today", "Today 4 U" and the other maxims of the play are interpreted differently by different characters in the play - Mimi uses the same logic to try to lure Roger out to do heroin with her that the Life Support meeting does to support people who know they're going to die. Those different interpretations are part of the characterisation.




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** Joanne is a lawyer. She starts dating Maureen and suddenly she's being asked to lug audio/visual equipment around in the cold and "stage manage". Mark is artsy and a filmmaker - maybe this is a role he was happy to play in his relationship with Maureen - but Joanne isn't, and Maureen's assumption seems to be that Joanne will fill the gap anyway despite Joanne's protestations ("Maureen, I'm not a theatre person! I'll never be a theatre person!"). Also, she already knows Maureen has cheated, so Maureen so quickly running back to her ex for help with the show would make her understandably uncomfortable.


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** The US government distributed quite a bit of AZT in effect to make up for the fact that it was poorly tested - basically to see what would happen.


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** We don't know if Maureen dated women before she dated Mark, and the reaction to the news about Joanne from Collins and Benny seems to suggest that she didn't (at least to their knowledge). Mark is also a bit of a square, so there's no proof he was into the same things his friends were into (i.e. drugs). There's also the shitty real life fact that Black and Hispanic communities were disproportionately affected by the epidemic. Mark is canonically Jewish.
27th Jan '16 9:49:45 PM kanskje
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** This is almost [[Fridge Brilliance]] - because the song Roger finally writes is so much more amateurish than the ones in the musical, it's clearly set apart from the rest of the songs and libretto.

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** This is almost [[Fridge Brilliance]] FridgeBrilliance - because the song Roger finally writes is so much more amateurish than the ones in the musical, it's clearly set apart from the rest of the songs and libretto.



*** We know Roger has AIDS ("his girlfriend April left a note saying "we've got AIDS...") as do Angel and Collins ("this body provides a comfortable home for the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome"). The distinction between HIV and AIDS was much less well-understood around the time the musical is set (1988-1990), and that was part of the reason the treatments available (like AZT) had limited efficacy. It's probably safe to assume Mimi had AIDS also.

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*** We know Roger [[spoiler:Roger has AIDS ("his girlfriend April left a note saying "we've got AIDS...") as do Angel and Collins ("this body provides a comfortable home for the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome"). The distinction between HIV and AIDS was much less well-understood around the time the musical is set (1988-1990), and that was part of the reason the treatments available (like AZT) had limited efficacy. It's probably safe to assume Mimi had AIDS also. also, or that her HIV becomes AIDS during the play, which would account for her declining health.]]



*** Opportunistic infection? [[spoiler: Mimi had just either been to or dropped out of rehab, which would be a physically exhausting process for a body simultaneously dealing with AIDS.]]

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*** Opportunistic infection? [[spoiler: Mimi had just either been to or dropped out of rehab, which would be a physically exhausting gruelling process for a on the body of someone simultaneously dealing with AIDS.]]


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***** Bingo. The connection with ACT UP is important, because ACT UP were most active during the period before antiretrovirals became available, and splintered later before combination therapy proved to be effective in the mid-90s. At this point they are still operating on pretty bad science. AZT at this point alone was wildly variable in how useful it was from patient to patient, but it was put into mass circulation very quickly because it was cheap and the only viable option available at the time. AZT used alone fell out of favour not long after the period this play is ostensibly set.


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*** I think this is it. Roger is dealing with a lot emotionally around his illness because of the death of his girlfriend, who died because they shared drugs - he might feel a degree of responsibility there. He's also definitely attracted to Mimi (this is clear in "Light My Candle") and from the lyrics to the song he knows something would happen ("our temperatures would climb, there'd be a long embrace..."). It's a breakthrough moment for Roger because not knowing what to do about Mimi is part of what gets him out of the house finally, but he responds aggressively probably because he's as angry at himself as he is at her.


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** AIDS is less frequently spread in male-female sex (especially where the female is the one infected, since she is the one likely to experience any kind of skin-breakage). But Benny and Mimi have also been involved in the past, and it's unclear how long Mimi has been sick or whether she was infected at that time, which could also have bearing on Benny's willingness to get involved with her again.
27th Jan '16 9:30:23 PM kanskje
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** Remember also that Roger is essentially a shut-in at the start of the play. There's no reason for him to believe that anyone other than Mark (who he knows doesn't have a key - Collins has that) would be at the door.



** This is almost [[Fridge Brilliance]] - because the song Roger finally writes is so much more amateurish than the ones in the musical, it's clearly set apart from the rest of the songs and libretto.



*** We know Roger has AIDS ("his girlfriend April left a note saying "we've got AIDS...") as do Angel and Collins ("this body provides a comfortable home for the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome"). The distinction between HIV and AIDS was much less well-understood around the time the musical is set (1988-1990), and that was part of the reason the treatments available (like AZT) had limited efficacy. It's probably safe to assume Mimi had AIDS also.



*** Opportunistic infection? [[spoiler: Mimi had just either been to or dropped out of rehab, which would be a physically exhausting process for a body simultaneously dealing with AIDS.]]




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*** AZT was of limited use for treating AIDS around the time the play is set (1988-1990ish). Typically a patient would take it, would experience a rapid recovery for a few months, and then deteriorate again very quickly. We find Mimi apparently fairly healthy at Christmas but by Halloween Mark notes she's [[spoiler: running out of time.]] It's not difficult to believe she was [[spoiler: definitely going to die.]]


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** Note that Angel says he has identified both ways since he was a child ("I was a Boy Scout... and a Brownie til some brat got scared"). His gender is ill-defined and it may be that he simply doesn't care, but his feelings are clearly long-term.


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*** On Broadway it is abundantly clear she has heroin with her when she goes to see Roger. Carrying AZT with her doesn't really mean anything - a lot of AIDS patients were taking up to 15 doses a day at this point in time.


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**** This is the best interpretation. He found out he had AIDS when April died, he hasn't played guitar in a year, and he's "just coming back from half a year of withdrawal", so it's reasonable to assume it's been about a year since he was diagnosed but he only got clean a few months later.


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**** The Roger/April heroin flashback only happens in be film. That's a specific artistic choice, but it's not canon to the play.
23rd Jan '16 9:06:49 AM orrink
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** Question-asker here, and yeah, that seems about it. The line in the first part of "Goodbye Love", "Who said that you should stick your nose in other people's business?" could showcase that, but then that could also be an angry friend giving, like, bitter advice. I dunno.

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** Question-asker here, and yeah, that seems about it. The line in the first part of "Goodbye Love", "Who said that you should stick your nose in other people's business?" could showcase that, but then that could also be an angry friend giving, like, bitter advice. I dunno.dunno.

* What is "that night" that Mark and Roger are singing about in "What You Own?" Roger had a great night because he met Mimi and fell in love with her, but Mark watched a performance by Maureen went to a restaurant and had his meal paid for and told Benny to f- off in song. Not that it wasn't fun but it sounds like what he does every day.

* If Benny and Roger used to be roommates, how did Roger not meet Mimi earlier?

* Did the playwright think through the fact that Collins is a guy who teaches at MIT and NYU? He seems pretty poor and not that proud of his career for someone who teaches at two of the most prestigious schools in the country?

* Why did Roger go to Santa Fe? Wasn't that Collins' dream?

* Kind of obvious but what specifically is the justification for not paying rent?

* Why would anyone think that someone drumming non-stop would be a great strategy to kill a dog?
4th Dec '15 2:06:35 PM JBK405
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** Joanne ''is'' a practicing lawyer and does have friends outside of the ''RENT'' cast: She's shown once discussing cases with other lawyers on the phone, and in the same song also trading gossip and stories about friends and coworkers, and her parents talk about her obligations to other people than Maureen. In fact, her parents talk ''down'' to her because of what she does with Maureen, pointing out that "those unwed teenage mothers need [her] help, too" (Exact wording? I'm not sure) and acting confused/surprise when she says she's working on Maureen's production. It all implies that she's a crusading social justice lawyer, very active in that scene with lawyer co-workers and like friends, who has only ''just now'' started hanging out in the style of the show after getting involved with Maureen.
6th Nov '15 5:53:41 AM dragonridingsorceress
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** I understood it to mean that Collins was a TUTOR at MIT. That's far more likely for a twenty-something. Add in the complaints which have shown up a lot in recent media about sessional university staff in the US not making a living wage, and it isn't too surprising.




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** Empathy.
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