A bird that could be called Zeus.
The five days workshop ‘Dramaturgy through the lens of Poetics’ led by Konstantina Georgelou and João Da Silva took place in January 2020. Focusing on the notions of poetics, dramaturgy, form and formlessness amongst others the workshop offered the possibility to experiment with a work by giving it different forms. Philosopher Boyan Manchev in his essay The New Arachne talks about the activity of form and its relation to the form’s limits: ‘Form cannot be thought without its limit, and therefore without transformation. It could reach its limit through its activity only’( 2015, p 18). A form can only be understood in relation to what is outside its limits. I perceive the form of an apple because of everything around it that is not an apple. The work I brought with me to the workshop was a film depicting various scenes of my family’s everydayness. First form: the film. Then came the myth. My family’s everydayness transformed into a myth that was told to a few classmates and was written nowhere. A few days later these classmates were asked to retell the myth to a new audience as they remembered it. Second form: myth and oral tradition. Then came the text. I transcribed the film into text, which was given as a script for the imagination of the reader, asked to mentally replace my family with their own. Third form: the text. Right now another text is being written. A text that reflects on what happened and moves forward. It is April 2020 and no one can say when a performer and a spectator will be able to physically meet again during a performance. Until further notice all I have to offer for the encounter between you and me is words. As I write them I wonder what the form of this encounter is right now, what it is and what I want it to be. Not just a text, I want the co-presence, the encounter-ness, the me and you together not me here and you there and me and you nothing. This text wants to be a performance. Per-formance as Manchev calls the activity of form that searches for its limits (2015, p 18). I am searching for the limits of this text, the limits of the form that is us, the limitations of the distance between us. Don’t surrender come on, limits limits why some words have to sound so negative, some limits are there okay but some limits I put and some you put and that’s okay that’s not negative, lack of presence, I want to make this lack a strength like in Georges Perec’s novel A Void. I want the distance between us to be like the letter e in A Void. I wonder why he didn’t call it ‘The Void’, daaaah there is an ‘e’ in the ‘the’ so if he had chosen this title he would have already broken his self imposed restriction. This text wants to be a performance. This text is written in one go, from beginning to end like a performance. During a performance I cannot tell you ‘wait a little bit, I need to go to the toilet, be right back’ or ‘oh no do not remember what I just said, delete it from your memory, edit it, what I meant to say was this and that’. This text is written in one go and I ask you to read it in one go. If you really have to pee take me with you or just hold it until you arrive to the end, okay? Writing it in one go makes this text a written stream of consciousness and you know what is the problem with a stream of consciousness? Today’s mood is quite an influence. I’m having a terrible day. All the other five attempts to write took place in much better moments but you see that’s the whole point of this text wanting to be a performance. I am expected to an encounter with you and my mood is coming with me no matter how it is. It is Easter. I am receiving pictures of friends and family in the sun day-drinking transparent liquids containing high levels of alcohol aka 40 per cent aka tsipouro while I am on tea pot number two in a messy house aka a war zone aka in the middle of a huge fight with the boyfriend. My mind is somewhere else, in revenge, war strategies, how to hurt a little but not too much so that things can become good again, do I want them to, do they have to, what if they don’t become good again, escape plan, maybe I go to Greece, no nothing flies to Greece right now, maybe they should become good again after all, how many times can they become good again I am e x h a u s t e d. At least during a stream of consciousness the feelings that appear become somehow relevant to the subject. This text that wants to be a performance wants to talk about exhaustion. There is a pandemic going on, yes? Yes. We have to stay home, yes? Yes. We can take a pause, yes? No. Some things have to go on, like universities, bills, biological procedures. Let’s talk about exhaustion. I present you two forms. Let’s say two neighboring pizzerias or two lovers, quite the same at this point. One form begins to exhaust itself. The pizzeria cannot pay the bills, the lover cannot give anything in this relationship anymore. I am looking up the definition of the verb exhaust. It means to use up, to consume completely, to expend the whole of, to draw up all that is essential. All that is essential is taken away from a form, a pizzeria or a lover, standing next to another form (pizzeria or lover) that still contains all that is essential. What we have then is one form that is exhausted and one form that is not: danger, crisis, destruction, exhaustion is bad, failure, surrendering, the end. But let’s start again and think that both forms exhaust themselves simultaneously: two lovers are falling out of love simultaneously, two neighboring pizzerias have less and less customers simultaneously. What we have then is not destruction, exhaustion is not an end, what we have is a new form, they transformed into a friendship into a new condition, into a painless break up if there is such a thing. Exhaustion then is not an end but a new beginning. I wish I could be more clear and less poetic today, my previous attempts were less heavy but this text wants to be a performance and I am coming to you as I am as Kurt Cobain commands. I always follow Kurt’s advice he was my only flatmate for five years in the form of a black and white poster taped on my wall in a house where I used to live alone, would be easier to be living alone right now. Choices, choices, this text chose to be a performance. The reason for writing in one go is to attempt to draw up all that is essential from this mind to this text within the given parameters. If I exhaust and you persist then exhaustion means end. We need to find a way that we exhaust together, for exhaustion to be a new form. Imagine a circle of five people (four is a square, three is a triangle, two is a line, one is a point). One of the five is really thirsty. Her bottle of water is at the other side of the room. If she walks abruptly to her bottle the circle is broken, the form is gone. If all five walk together towards her bottle or if they all walk backwards opening up the circle until she can reach her bottle the form remains. There are limitations right now that don’t allow me and you to come physically together for a performance to take place but if we walk backwards simultaneously the form that is us remains and this text is a performance. This text wants to be a performance. I am trying to do my part while wondering about your part. I am preparing for this text for five weeks, I could not write it in parts because it had to be one go, but for five weeks I am reading, thinking, drawing in order to be able to write it. I am thinking of you reading, how when what you need to do for the form that is us to transform without collapsing. I realized all this time I didn’t mention the words poetics and dramaturgy. No it wasn’t my intention to go Perec style, poetics and dramaturgy are not my letter ‘e’. I prefer the word poesis over poetics, because I instinctively associate poetics with poetry and there I lose it. (Like a few lines before where I said something about being poetic today, although the mood of the day is definitely a form of poetics of the work). As I prefer the word autobiography over diary mostly because I associate diary with diarrhea but we will discuss this further next time we meet. The poesis is how I make my part of the encounter, what I do for the thing to take a form. It is the methods I use to approach you. Once the form is ready it comes towards you and once you see it dramaturgy appears. Not completely up to my hands and not completely up to your hands, I understand dramaturgy as the behavior of our potential child that we couldn’t control after a while. It goes like this: you and I meet and from that a child is born. This child grows up, she is now a teenager and starts smoking. One day she cannot find her lighter so she asks a stranger for fire. Whether she is going to ask politely or not you and I cannot really control, of course we could try at the beginning when we were bringing her up (during her poesis) but once she is out there we cannot, she has her own dramaturgy. Got it? It seems like I really need to turn some notions into metaphors in order to understand them better. How does that work for you, holding on there? 1.728 words. I want to move on, talk about the future, our future. No war strategies or escape plans just a speculation. Right now I am writing this. I put it online. You go online and right now you read it. Both right nows you see? Time is composed by millions of right nows and to do things in the right now is very important in my research. Right now is the minimal form of the place where you and I can meet. It doesn’t matter if it is the same right now, because now is the form, so now is always inside the circle even when she goes to get her bottle because she is thirsty. As long as you and me manage to meet in the now, this text manages to be a performance and ‘the poetics of my work are dramaturgically relevant’. The struggle now that we do not see each other is that we need to establish a certain trust. Like a long distance relationship. You need to trust that I do write this in one go and I need to trust that you either didn’t pee or that you took me with you to the toilet. On the other hand maybe something new will come out once we lie to each other, once we pass the limits of our trust. Choices choices, truth or lie? Come on don’t judge the word by how it sounds, maybe lie is a better starting point for poesis. Once I say I am striving for the truth you might always doubt if it is really the truth, it might be difficult for you to trust me. If I already told you that I am lying, wouldn’t you trust me easier then? Choices choices, truth or trust? Sorry I don’t quite know where I am going with this right now, I am exhausted aka empty by drawing out all that is essential. Blaaaaah what a corny end. That’s better.
2057 words. This limit is exhausted.
P.S. I’m only writing a p.s. to tell you what you probably already know, that the end is never the end. The form is transforming. Form then formless then form again then formless then form again. Fuck it’s Easter and I haven’t even touched a red egg.
Manchev, Boyan (2015) ‘The New Arachne: Towards a poetics of dynamic forms’, in Performance Research 20:1, 18-26.
Perec, Georges 1995. . A Void. (La Disparition.) Translated by Gilbert Adair. London: Harville Press.