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PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 27.1 (2005) 65-81

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(Landscape in the Aftermath)

Carles Batlle Translated by Sharon G. Feldman (with Pere Bramon and Neil Charlton)

Combat, origianally entitled Combat (Paisatge per a després d'una batalla) in Catalan, premiered under the direction of Ramon Simó at the Sala Beckett in Barcelona on January 21, 1998.


HE: twenty.

SHE: between twenty-five and thirty-five.


A small room without any remarkable features. At first glance a question arises: A cell? A prison, a convent, a hospital? It may be a tiny, passionless room in a bedroom community, or a post-nuclear shelter. In any case, it is a habitable space: there is a very simple bed and a chair. The person who lives here surely has no money or lacks taste, or perhaps both. No sign of personality. Oh yes. There is something, something that begs for attention. Hanging on the wall, a two-toned image and, below it, on tear-off sheets, the black and red days of each month. But what is it? Let's see. It is a reproduction of a pre-Raphaelite painting: The Lady of Shallot by John William Waterhouse, painted in the year 1888, which, as everyone knows, bears the reference number "01543" from the Tate Gallery in London.

This cell is her room. She is always in her bedroom, as is the picture from the calendar. Intruding up this immaculate space, spread about, are some apparently essential objects: a lantern, diverse articles of clothing, a bar of soap, a towel, a pen, paper, a blanket . . . Ah! And everywhere, in her hands, on the bed, in the corners, dark and pervasive, the long shining barrel of a revolver.


(Lights. She. She is looking in the direction of the door. She has the revolver in her hand. Her arms hang passively at her sides. Screams are heard—a crowd of people: "upstairs, go on up, the top floor, the top . . ." —and the sound of frantic footsteps on the landing. They knock at the door: one, two, three . . . She does not move. One, two, three . . . One, two, three [End Page 65] . . . She extends her arm with the revolver pointed at the door. One, two, three. Someone, behind the door, says: "It's me. I'm back. I've come to get you. We're . . ." She fires. Darkness. A short pause. Noises, reprimands, and the door falls to the floor, shots; piercing the darkness, the painful lingering scream of a woman . . .)


(When he speaks the setting does not seem to be the same. Is it the same? It is an ambiguous empty space. Only an unfolded sort of board in the midst of the shadows. An indefinite, orphaned, forgotten board. It does not belong to any particular time or place. Or material, either: it is not made of wood and it does not look as though it is made of metal. It seems, in fact, ready—suitable—for someone to lie down upon, to rest for a while or to undergo a medical exam, perhaps just to sleep . . . At first glance, the most natural reaction would be to lie down upon it. Of course, as a board, it can also be used for ironing. Sitting on one end, with his legs hanging and his back straight, he, almost motionless, will contemplate the emptiness and unsuccessfully explore its limits and depths. He will only move his eyes. And, when he speaks, his mouth and neck move, too.)

Be careful. Don't move. The slightest movement and all this black water will reach your neck and fill your clothes. And you wouldn't like that, would you? If it happens, you won't be here anymore; in your place, only the liquid, and the shadows . . . Don't think. Think about something else. You're fine, you're not cold, you're relaxed, you notice your body responds without difficulty to any impulse that you subject it to; you feel agile and strong...


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pp. 65-81
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