day 11 – see previous post “towards day 11” – @ sf, The Mother

Day 11 at the Soap Factory had been a long time coming. Sickness and the making of a side project at, a 3 minute short, “The End of the World,” had intervened. When it finally came, I’d spent the morning at Children, Youth and Family, otherwise known by the inauspicious acronym of CYF’s, dealing with a particularly vexed interfamilial issue. Tuesday afternoon found us, Barney, Jeff, Erika and I – Paul missing in action, on a paid gig – auto-piloting into the ‘rendering’ (pages opposite) entitled “RJF.”

The piece, Erika’s, in the character of a Survivor, who meditates on the possibility that humans were made by the Nazis into soap, contains, for its figurative depths, only figural surface: how does Erika hit the points of performance in rehearsal which represent depths without plunging into them, or skating over them, and draw into the ambit of what she does, in the diagramme of character, all those ideas we’ve had about what she is? In the event, we have a breakthrough.

The day redeemed itself. We saw the places of the missing objects and heard the absent people. We had the rehearsed reproducing the Great Original, wherein all objects and people were remembered there, without the loss of the present (of the text), without the failure of imagination and memory. It worked.

Next, we rehearsed Barney’s piece, the Kafka character, in his conflict with Jeff’s four lines, three of which are simply the word “No.” Barney kept hitting up against the power-relation: his, the submissive character, takes power from the dominant one, Jeff, while on his knees, Jeff holding the back of his head as if to rub his face in the dirt, without any overt act of resistance, with a simple turn of the head. Barney couldn’t see it. Fair enough. But couldn’t do it or find it in the doing.

The piece has ultimately little to do with the power-relation or its paradox. This was the hardest to explain. We said, Jeff’s “no” and his physical act of domination is tangential with regard to K.‘s present – in the same way as the expressed is not the expression. But how deal with a performer’s resistance to this special form of resistance, which may feel like submission?

I have to say this remains a constant theme, the “attack by sudden and strange surrender” (Wilde, Dorian Gray), the subversion, and its limitations. Again, getting there, to the surrender, completely, is the crawling one has perhaps to achieve by first running and then walking. It’s a job for the autist-savant, and in the rehearsal, because it involves so much hope, perhaps, has to be brought back to the surface of “do it because it works (worked)” or, at worst, “because it reads (read)”! (Is this the logic of perversion affirmed before you can accede to its before before?) You have, of course, to get there before you can deal with the horizons, the limited vista offered, after. All.

Barney brought up in discussion afterwards a wholly, and globally, connected problem: the mother. K. has a girlfriend, a mother and a dead father. The mother is somehow a condition of what plays out between him and the girlfriend insofar as she never meets the girlfriend before the latter dies of negligence and is left hanging half in, half out, of his burrow. The girlfriend is like a coveted and then neglected pet. The mother is the buried platform on which the negligence is staged.

For the outside of all five performances, is there a mother? A mother theatre?

the history of depths begins with what is most terrifying: it begins with the theatre of terror whose unforgettable picture Melanie Klein painted. In it, the nursing infant is, beginning with his or her first year, stage, actor, and drama, at once. Orality, mouth, and breast are initially bottomless depths. Not only are the breast and the entire body of the mother split apart into a good and a bad object, but they are aggressively emptied, slashed to pieces, broken into crumbs and alimentary morsels. The introjection of these partial objects into the body of the infant is accompanied by a projection of aggressiveness onto these external objects, and by a re-projection of these objects into the maternal body. … We call this world of introjected and projected, alimentary and excremental partial internal objects the world of simulacra. Melanie Klein describes it as the paranoid-schizoid position of the child. It is succeeded by a depressive position which characterises a dual progress, since the child strives to reconstitute a complete good object and to identify himself with this object.

– Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, p. 215

You might see here echoes of the part objects I’ve talked up earlier, those products of half-mime, that fill the room (theatre) which is otherwise empty, those stand-ins for properties. The question I now ask is, Can we generalise the mother role as Deleuze suggests above? How do we let an audience know?