Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Dissecting Dominos

I don't know about other performers but I find that the rehearsal process is a setting up of dominos inside the body. You work on one action which is a cue for a line which is in turn a cue for another line or bit of on-stage business. The performance is simply following the course of all these moments that are set up alongside one another inside of you. You are living out a deterministic world view where you might believe that you have choice up there as that character on stage but really you're just following the cause and effect laws of a universe lacking free will. Or at least that's one way of looking at it.

I would love to write a play where all the lines of said play are written out on dominos in tiny perfect detail and then at the top of the show as the first character utters the first words of the script, the first domino is knocked over to begin the chain effect that would go on in tandem with the performance on stage. Or at least that's something I'd like to see on stage as part of a play.

Speaking of falling over, I've almost completely healed from my Saturday night fall on stage for the Fringe Festival Bowling Cabaret. I started the night out with the intro to my piece DISLOCATED LIPS and as there were no lights or sound effects I thought it would be interesting to fall over to transition into my next scene. I fell like a Douglas Fir, crashing down on the wooden stage with such a resounding boom in the tiny little Carousel Theater that people gasped with fear. Sorry about that. I woke up with a very sore side the next day. I didn't intend on doing myself any bodily harm up there on stage. I wasn't trying to pull off a Jack-Ass stunt. (But hey wouldn't it be funny to see the dudes from Jack Ass performing some piece from Shakespeare ? I'd love to see them tasering their butts while doing Henry the fourth. Or at least that's something I'd like to see as part of a bigger play.)

Okay well let's get to the short, short story for today. Or at least this is something I'd like to see. (I'd like you to imagine these last lines as dominos that move this text forward, paragraph after paragraph.)


"I saw many bodies opened up everywhich way but loose. I thought this is as good as it gets. I was interesting," Mina Yoshimoto explained slowly over hurdles of "mmmmmmm"'s and "aaaaaaaaa"'s. She had just arrived in Canada two weeks ago and still clung for dear life to a wealth of English movie titles that she knew by heart. ( In Japan, just like most other parts of the world, North American movie titles are changed to something more suited to the tastes of the particular market. Most ESL students in North America don't know movies by their English titles.) Mina was such a movie buff that she went out of her way to commit to memory as many English titles as possible. So whenever she opened her mouth to speak English, a movie title was the first thing that came to her mind.

Tom, Mina's instructor at the Language Construction Zone, listened carefully to her cinematically enriched explanation of the plastination exhibition that was in Tokyo. A doctor in Germany had developed a process whereby he could preserve the inner parts of people even while their innards were exposed to the world. This doctor had artistically cut up cadavers to reveal different frozen vistas of our inner selves. Tom had read all about this years ago and was still amazed at how horrific the whole thing was.

"You mean you were interested ?" Tom corrected.

"Yes I was interested. Was that the fatal mistake ?" Mina asked this question with a rather obscure title from a mid-60's Roddy McDowell film.

"It's not a fatal mistake, just remember adjectives end in "ed" when you say them."

"So the bodies were very Silence of the Lambs," Mina continued to explain with great care and intensity.

At that very moment across town, a couple was in a video store talking about the phenomenon of plastination. As they picked up and looked over various video jackets, they talked about how beautiful and creepy the whole thing was. They looked at exactly the same titles that Mina was mentioning in her language across all the way on the other side of town. Their conversation was the exact inverse of what was being said in the Language Construction Zone. Two identical set-ups of dominos falling in opposite directions.

These things happen.