Letter of Intent: Lorgean Theatre Residency
There is a Czech travel story that goes like this: a man was once traveling back to Prague and his plane had a stopover in Buenos Aires. The man found himself with a few hours to spend in the small hours of the morning (1-4), so he hired a taxi and
drove through the city for an hour to see what he could see. At one point, he looked
up (at 3 a.m., let’s say) and saw a man standing on a balcony in his pajamas, playing a violin. When the traveler arrived back in Prague, he wrote a newspaper column about his travels and began, “In Buenos Aires, it is a national custom for men to get up in the middle of the night, go out onto their balconies in the small hours of the morning, and play the violin.”
This story was an important motivation for this performance proposal, as was my friend’s comment (forwarding the online notice) “this project has you written allll over it.” The third motivation was my repeated reading of the Griffin and Sabine books years ago.
My intent is to take advantage of this opportunity to become my shadow self, a shadow self I take to be a man who lives in Rumania, on the other side of the world and the other side of the gender (and possible age) gap. I am going to assume that this man, about whom I know nothing, and whose life and character I will not study or research until I arrive in Rumania, in fact represents Rumania as a whole.
The fictional springboard I have is that I have a long-lost relative (a sixth cousin, perhaps) wrote and invited me to come and visit him in Bucharest. He says he would like me to know about him, so we can explore our trans-national connection. He is interested, he says, in building a personal bridge between our two countries. As a translator and around-the-world traveler, I am very interested in exploring this idea. But when I arrive in Rumania, he is not there to greet me. I receive a key and some money that he has left for me, and perhaps a letter or a map or a riddle and instructions from him not to ask anyone direct questions about him, because it will “raise suspicion.”
As an actor as well as a playwright/poet/fiction writer/translator/traveler, and a natural empath, I am very interested in other people’s worlds and mindsets.
My intent therefore is to write a series of short performance pieces to be performed in the space, based on my developing picture of my European male shadow shelf. These may be dialogues, monologues, mime, performance poetry, music, art.
I will complete the equation my private self= his public self= Rumania. In so doing, I will make it possible for theatre goers to view my performance piece and make the equation “This performance = the American who was here” or even “This performance is America.”
My intention is to become Rumania.
The Performance Piece
I will be open to what information I can glean from friends and neighbors and, above all, from the apartment itself. I will not ask directly about him unless he directs me (indirectly) to do so, but will stay keenly aware of, alert to, things people say about this man unprovoked.
My main source of information will be his apartment. (I am also respectful of boundaries, so if there is anything marked “hands off” in the apartment, or if verbal instructions await me, I will respect those directions.)
Many (perhaps all) of the books in the apartment will be in Rumanian, and I do not read or speak or understand Rumanian, so I will be looking especially at English-language materials (anything I touch to be put back in its original place) and non-verbal clues– What sort of cooking utensils does this person use? What sort of towels? What kind of a man has a make believe theater in his real apartment, when I have a make believe apartment in a real theater (a set). What images are on his walls?
Perhaps the man, my shadow self, will have left clues or puzzles for me, or even a kind of treasure hunt. Perhaps he will leave non-verbal clues. Will I recognize them as such, though?
The performance piece (to be presented in the theatre) will use real objects in the apartment and real people (who come to see the performance of which they are part) and be a mixed-genre, mixed media event- sort of the mirror image to Waiting for Godot, hence called Godot is Waiting.
It will have built in the possibility for the shadow self, when he returns, to respond with a performative evaluation of the woman who lived in his apartment, based on her performance piece and whatever clues, riddles, maps, drawings, she leaves behind.
I believe my friend was right– I think this opportunity does have me written allll over it.
LOL (lots of lotuses)