Selection from Deep Trance Behavior in Potatoland
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On film: Jewish letter appears with moving numbers around it. Fade to English girl with arm up.
Male Voice: Pose . . . pose for me
On film: wipe back to Japan scene 2
Voiceover: The visitor sleeps Amidst the excitement of The experience
Male Voice: Aware of no new theoretical basis
Japanese Woman: You understand me immediately when I say . . .
Male Voice: He that drinketh of this water
Japanese Woman: Knock, knock
Joel: Guarda la mia scarpa sporca
Japanese Woman: You understand me immediately when I say . . . mental activity plus nobody home. Knock
Voiceover: Mental activity plus
Male Voice: Alert, but no new theoretical basis
Japanese Man: I understand you immediately when you say, I too am always in the same place. knock knock
Voiceover: I understand you immediately when you say . . .
I too am always in the same place . . . [End Page 110]
Japanese Woman: I understand you immediately when I say
Voiceover: resonance inside this . . . . . . personal belief system
Male Voice: Speaking dead always
Japanese Man: I understand you immediately when you say, I too am always in the
same place. Knock, knock
On-screen text: I 2
Male Voice: Ah the continual
On-screen text: ?
German singing: Ich habe dich . . . ich habe dich
Voiceover: the visitor is always dead amidst the excitement of the experience
Male Voice: Erase the frame
German Voice: Ich will
Male Voice: The arena in which no promises are made
German Voice: Ich will
Voiceover: erase the frame . . .
Japanese Man: I understand immediately when you say I too
Male Voice: A door opening. No relationship exists between what happens on stage and what is happening on the illuminated screen except suddenly click and a profound relationship
woman screaming: 1,2,3,4
Male Voice: Does now exist click
woman screaming: 1,2,3,4
German singing: Ich habe dich
Male Voice: It’s that simple
On film: Wipe to Japan scene 2
Voiceover: make this . . . . . . mental experiment
Male Voice: The feeling of no feeling . . . that deep feeling
On-screen text: ? [End Page 111]
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This storyboard for my production Maria del Bosco—simple stick figure renderings of characteristic moments from the succession of scenes from the play, is typical of what I usually make mid-rehearsal to assist me in “getting a handle” on a play which inevitably, mid-way in rehearsal, has not yet crystallized into a coherent conceptual whole in my own consciousness. My plays are purposefully non-narrative, since I believe that if one is sucked into following a story, one is so distracted by plot and character that as a result one loses the full ability to deeply “see” and savor each moment as it sits before one, in all it’s dense, multi-layered complexity as a concrete “pure thing.” And the isolating of the perceptual mechanism to empower such reawakened “seeing” has been my one aim for forty years of theatre-making.
But we human beings are trained by life to turn everything into story, which allows us to feel oriented in the complex flow of things only as we chop confusing experience into little “narratives” providing an arc of “beginning, middle and end” which allows our lazy brains to feel we “understand” what’s happening in the flux of our lives—when in fact we inevitably leave out and overlook most of what is really happing to us and around us, on many different levels.
But in making a kind of theatre that tries to immerse itself in the “buzzing blooming” continuum of this life of ours—which in our minds we immediately transform into the simplified gestalt of “story”—I am making something that the human mind (mine included) finds, at first, hard to handle. To teach myself the “shape” of my play—I make this little storyboard so I can glance at it to quickly orient myself—to remember “where I am” at any given moment of rehearsal—to intuit the aimed at “whole” of the play in its succession of moments linked by association and resonance rather than by plot.
In working on the play through a long rehearsal period, I try to find ways to articulate a kind of musical and thematic development which will provide the spectator with the feeling that he or she is present at a coherent, organized and energizing event, even if the normal crutch of conventional story development is specifically withheld. So this little sketch is not the “story” of the play, but a bird’s eye view of the “whole thing at once”— which I then hope to make present onstage as I try to evoke one extended “eternal moment” in which all elements of the play are somehow, continually present.
Richard Foreman [End Page 115]
Other PAJ features in the ongoing series “Performance Drawings”—
1. “Geneva, Handfall,” by Trisha Brown, PAJ 89 (May 2008).
2. “The Threepenny Opera,” by Robert Wilson, PAJ 88 (January 2008).
3. “Research Events,” by Ralph Lemon, PAJ 81 (September 2005).
4. “Studio as Study,” by Melinda Barlow, PAJ 71 (May 2002). [End Page 116]