About Silence is a performance text that I am making available for free to anyone who would like to perform it.
About Silence explores topics ranging from paranoia, beauty and the pain of intimate human relationships to sex, violence and tenderness. It has been performed hundreds of times by performers all over the world under my direction and with Proto-type Theater. In each of the performances that have been shown to date, both the performers and the audience encounter the text for the first time. It is typically performed by three people. The rules of the performance as it has been directed by me are:
- The performers do not see the text until the performance begins; this means the text is printed out and placed face down on a table for the performers to turn over and read once they start.
- All of the lines must be said in order and no lines can be skipped.
- If a performer starts a line, they must complete the entire line (even long, paragraph-length lines).
- There are no characters or set rules about which line each person should say, except as number one above. This means that the performers will choose which lines to say in the moment of performing the piece.
- The text is printed on paper and at the end of each page, or whenever a performer wants to, the page should be crumpled up and tossed on the floor. Some performers do it literally at the end of each page, while others hold pages back and crumple them when they feel like it.
- The performers stay seated throughout the performances and speak directly to the audience and each other.
- If two performers start saying a line at the same time, they should try to synch up so that the text is audible.
The performance itself becomes about the moments of silence in between the text as we consider what was just said or anticipate what will be said; it is also about the choices the performers make in the moment. No two versions of the piece have ever been the same, even though the text has only occasionally changed (and only modestly). Typically, the performance is accompanied by a score of music by [zygote].
Here is a snapshot of what the performance looked like during a student run through in preparation for performances at KSU in Georgia:
I have decided to make this text free to use because I feel I’ve had enough chances to hear and see the piece and am interested to see what others do with it. If you want to use the text for teaching, as a professional performance or for amateur performances, these are the rules:
- To gain access to the script, fill out the form below stating who you are and what you’d like to use the piece for (i.e., teaching, professional performance, just to read, etc). You will be sent a link to the script directly as a PDF.
- You must not publish the text on any websites.
- You must not edit the text IN ANY WAY. There are dirty words and adult themes in this text…you may not edit these out under any circumstances.
- Please credit me as follows: About Silence written by Peter S Petralia, first produced by Proto-type Theater. Please also add the url drpetralia.com to any promotional material, programs, etc.
- I request that as payment for the text being given to you, you share any documentation of the piece with me that you are able to capture.
- After you perform the text, I ask that you send a quick note to say what it was like for you.
- You may choose to follow the performance rules laid out above, but I am fine if you want to do something totally different. If you do, I’ll look forward to hearing what you change.