I recently came across an old text (circa 2005-6 – so not that old), which I thought I’d post here. It is an adaptation of words that were spoken by the performers I was working with on a piece called Invisible Messages, which was commissioned by PS122 in NYC. The performers, Meredith Smart, MeeAe Caughey and Alessandro Magania were given a series of tasks to do including one that asked them to start every line with ‘this is a story about’ as a way of trying to figure out what we were doing. Another taks involved reciting ‘letters to no one’ that they composed on the spot and another asked them imagine the last time they saw someone, how they would die and a few other things that I can’t remember now! My rehearsal assistant transcribed much of it down for me and then I reordered it for the text below. I don’t know if I changed any of the words here, so really they are not necessarily my words but the result of a set of directions I gave and a bit of my editing. Full disclosure and all…
Here is a picture of the performers from the rehearsal were most of this text was spoken:
Here is the text from the rehearsal process:
Voice One: This is a story about drinking and drinking and drinking till you only remember the good times.
Voice Two: Drinking and drinking so you can remember the bad times.
Voice Three: This is a story about surveillance.
Voice Two: This is a story about magic, magical cures and magical disappearing acts.
Voice One: This is a story about how everything magical is becoming more of a reality.
Voice Three: This is a story about being ready to kill or prepared, at least.
Voice Two: This is a story about thanking god that you can still smile.
Voice One: This is a story about learning that you don’t have to smile all the time.
Voice Two: This is a story about wondering who you should thank any time you think you should be thankful for something.
Voice Three: This is a story about homeless men telling you to smile when you walk down the street when you weren’t unhappy you just cant smile all the time.
Voice One: This is a story about being so desperate that you would kill somebody.
Voice Three: This is a story about jumping into a lake or a river.
Voice Two: This is a story about blowing your brains out with a shotgun.
Voice One: This is a story about people who laugh when they are uncomfortable.
Voice Three: This is a story about feeling like silence is a black hole.
Voice One: This is a story about drowning.
Voice Two: This is a story about a girl who has dreamed about 3 people drowning in 3 nights and wondering what all this drowning can mean.
Voice Three: This is a story about breathing.
Voice One: This is a story about David Bowie.
Voice Three: This is a story about Fleetwood Mac.
Voice Two: This is a story about not accepting rules, including the rule that you should breath.
Voice One: This is a story about not caring whether you breathe or not.
Voice Three: This is a story about falling off a cliff.
Voice Two: This is a story about recognizing when something is wrong with another person and choosing to ignore it.
Voice One: This is a story about knowing something is wrong and not being able to do anything about it.
Voice Two: This is a story about falling into a hole.
Voice Three: This is a story about falling repeatedly into a hole.
Voice One: This is a story about what do you do to get out of the hole.
Voice Two: This is a story about silence becoming words.
Voice One: This is a story about nothing.
Voice Three: How difficult the story will be.
Voice Two: This is a story about control.
Voice One: This is a story about fixing things.
Voice Three: This is a story about things that are not fixable.
Voice Two: This is a story about slow realizations.
Voice One: This is a story about the whole world becoming ridiculous.
Voice Three: This is a story about not believing.
Voice Two: This is a story about being afraid.
Voice One: This is a story about being afraid.
Voice Three: This is a story about secrets.
Voice Two: This is a story about forgetting everything.
Voice One: There was a person in the lake gulps of water. Last breath.
Voice Two: I am afraid of holes.
Voice Three: I have to think.
Voice One: So blank.
Voice Three: Well I am afraid of getting fat …. And really ashamed of that.
Voice Two: I’m gonna keep on asking you questions I guess. I am taking this as an emotional response. Feel free to answer or not answer. What color do you like wearing? Do you feel calm most of the day? Any questions you want to ask me. This is getting awkward. How many siblings do you have? Would you describe your relationship to your siblings as normal or abnormal? Does your father or mother still kiss you good night? When was the last time? When did you last hug your mom or your dad? Can you talk about problems with friends? Or are you more of a listener? What would you do tomorrow if you could to anything you wanted to? What’s your biggest desire? What’s your biggest fear? When was the last time you had a nightmare? How many masks do you wear a day? Is your hair naturally that color? Are you more a sweet person or a salty person? What’s your Chinese zodiac sign? Do your believe in horoscope? Tarot cards read? Palms read? When was the last time you were scared? Why are you walking away from me? When do I get to stop asking questions?
Voice Three: The dark hump gets closer to her, I start getting worried, she holds an arm out and asks for help, I hesitate.
Voice Two: Tell me about a time you had to get rid of all connections, personal and business.
Voice One: What would make you feel completely erased?
Voice Three: I see her floating underwater, reach to pull her out, she starts to move.
Voice One: What would make you happy?
Voice Two: Tell me about a time you weren’t so frantic. What would make you stop scribbling?
Voice Three: I dreamt last night about intruders. A scary old man was heard but not seen. He cleared his throat, then an army worker comes and does his bidding. Suddenly I’m in a doctor’s office, he is checking me for allergies, pollen. He tells me to eat 6 honey ambrosia a day. After a short amount of time I don’t feel pollen allergies any more, he also gives me a pill.
Voice One: I woke up this morning and realized I am afraid of dogs.
Voice Two: What would make you feel like you existed?
Voice One: I was thinking about dogs and had to stop because I got too scared.
Voice Two: Tell me about a time you were really scared. What would make you happy right now? Tell me about a time you felt really alone.
Voice One: I always feel alone.
Voice Two: Well tell me about a time you don’t feel alone. When was the last time you were scared you were gonna die?
Voice One: I wish there was a pill.
Voice Two: If you could take a pill to make you less afraid but, as a side effect it also erased your memories would you take it? It could erase a few or all of them. You don’t know.
Voice One: Yes.
Voice Three: I measure myself with time. First erase all traces of existence. Tell me about a time you connected with someone. Make sure your photos are destroyed. If all I can be is a photo I want to destroy myself. I see you now. She drowned. I see you and touch you and feel you. This is me. Right here. This is me in 5 min, this is me in 2 days. God don’t you get it? God and me. Then you erase all your old habits. Smoke, go to church, or to a goth club or a motorcycle convention. When you are ready to give it all up, you are almost ready to not exist for other people but to you, you do. Now I can finally be all I wanted to be.
Voice One: She felt so empty the day after.
Voice Two: There was a tv program about a man who when got angry would turn into a green beast. There was a tv program where a lot of people were crying. There was a tv program about almost anything you can think of.
Voice Three: What does Titubate mean?
Voice One: Indecisive.
Voice Three: I feel a little shaken.
Voice Two: When I die I want to be cremated.
Voice One: When I die I want to go to a heaven of some sort.
Voice Three: I want to get out.
Voice Two: A new section called traces of yourself.
Voice One: This is where it gets a little weird.
Voice Three: Is there a reason for the stars?
Voice Two: The last time she thought about time was a long time ago.
Voice One: The last time he thought about time he couldn’t even remember how long ago that was.
Voice Three: When I die I want to come back as something bigger and better.
Voice Two: They cant. They cant. Then run now. Forward.
Voice Three: Dear No One, I start my attempt to unleash some of my anger in words. I’ve been really concerned about the way that I respond to people and let my anger take me over in situations. It really shouldn’t, so this is my effort to maybe put it into words and if by naming my thoughts and having to devote the time to put them on a page they will, the anger will fizzle or seem inconsequential enough, I won’t be angry anymore. As I sit here and try to think of the things that make me angry, I can’t. It’s the little things. I really hate skateboarders, especially the ones over thirty. That’s not really strong enough. I mean you’re thirty dude get off the skateboard, straighten your hat and pull up your pants.
Voice One: Dear No One, my mom called me yesterday and told me she is pregnant with a snake. I asked her to explain what she meant by this but she just said, “you know, a snake”. I said I thought snakes were hatched out of eggs and she hung up on me.
Voice Three: This is what happens every time I try to take a proactive step to work on myself. Anger management. Trying to be more focused. My brain is a blank page. I think I am still gushing. My heart is really bruised. It is affecting my daily life. Thinking that I should move on and it is really not wanting to let go and you told so many people you want them to let go but when it comes to you it is really hard and I feel like this really big walking cliché. You know what is good for you but you don’t want to do it like I know that right now… I can’t really speak right now. I am going to glue this photo that I just took for you. It doesn’t represent anything in particular, but as an accident it came out really pretty so let that be my leaving message, things that happen by accident are really pretty
Voice Two: Dear No One, its ok if you work in a petrol station, I worked in a petrol station a long time.
Voice One: Dear No One, it was good to hear from you, I am glad to hear you think about me everyday and even if I don’t really believe in the same god you believe in it feels good to know you are praying for me every day.
Voice Three: I feel fidgety and eager and dissatisfied.
Voice Two: Dear No One, Do you also see little faces in those electrical outlets?
Voice Two: Dear No One, Are you Chinese or Japanese or Korean or Vietnamese? I just realized I had no idea.
Voice Two: Dear No One, I don’t have much time so I will cram into the little time remaining, it was really good to see you, if you can please…
Voice Two: Dear No One, I’m sorry the last letter got cut off I figured I should send it anyway. All the best Voice Two
Voice One: When I die I want to be reincarnated as something that can fly.
Voice Three: The last time she talked to me I felt like I wanted to kill her.
Voice Two: It was my fault.
Voice One: When I die I want to be buried in a cemetery next to my grandfather and my grandmother and everyone who has died before me and then I will decompose in a box next to them.
Voice Three: I got you, I couldn’t live by myself, so close.
Voice One: I can’t stay here anymore.
Voice Two: Then you should leave.
Voice One: Why are you being so cold?
Voice Two: I’m not.
Voice One: Why are you being so cold? Well I am leaving.
Voice Two: Where are you going?
Voice One: Nowhere.
Voice Two: Nowhere?
Voice One: Yes nowhere.
Voice Two: Ok! Fine!
Voice One: I can’t stay here anymore
Voice Two: Then you should leave.
Voice Three: Then you should leave.
Voice One: I can’t stay here anymore.
Voice Three: Then you should leave.
Voice Two: Why are you being so cold? I can’t stay here anymore. I’m leaving.
Voice Three: Get some sleep.
Voice One: Feels ok to me.
Voice Three: We reach his apartment, not his actual one, a small apartment, he is on phone with his agent, shouting at him some details of a shoot he is doing the following day, I end up taking the phone and getting the details on some strange palm pilot he hands me, I don’t know how to operate it, I look out the window and see a man with grayish hair, I see him talking to us, as soon as I realize this I jump and secure all the fastening of the sliding windows of the hotel, I feel really good about doing that I feel really helpful, he doesn’t threaten me, he is talking but I can’t hear.
This text reminds me a lot of my older piece About Silence (video here) in its form, but the content is very different. About Silence will be performed at Kennesaw State University this autumn, btw…