A new nation, conceived in liberty (and women)

Since we didn’t bring our A-game to the 9x22 talkback last night (might have had something to do with glue, cold pavement, and adrenaline), I figured I’d throw out a bunch of facts about the piece.

Laurie asked for a list of our influences before the show. Here's that:

People we know, Wheel of Fortune, our bicycles, radical women, Christianity, Gypsy Rose Lee, Pauline Kael, Graham Greene, veneration of flesh, the human creation of gods and celebrities, this quote about famous people "once they're in our hands, we decide just how famous, and for how long," suffragettes, bicycles, Vegas, Guy DuBord, the human spirit.

These texts also influenced the piece:

We watched Gypsy Rose Lee (a lot).

Our pieces, for all that they are based on what we read and watch and see, are moving into a realm of feeling, using the stage to create things we want to see exist in the world. I don’t know what it means to say that; almost nothing in the show is something I want to exist outside of the stage (Creepy high school teacher? Tuberculosis-ridden strippers?)

We talked a lot about “the picture of free untrammeled womanhood”: how do each of the images read in the context of freedom and liberation? How does pursuing desire support or distract from the work of liberation? Does glittery gold fabric titillate or empower? In a culture that encourages and denies desire, what does it mean to pursue any desire at all?

Being part of Mad King Thomas means I get to construct realities, can obscure myself with Vanna White, can talk about what I like, do what I like. And sometimes other people want in on the conversation. For which I say thank you a million times.

Here's our piece, Fish on Bikes: A Picture of Free Untrammeled Womanhood:



I don't know, it looked pretty A-Game to me.

And what was particularly apparent in your talkback part of the 9x22 was the mutable dynamic among the three of you. (And that you are very funny women.) No one was going to give a straight answer because there is no one straight answer. Thank god. (And this without being glib or evasive.) I think that's important.

Part of what I find so fascinating about the MKT works I've seen -- and this one just as much if not more -- is the complex instability of the images I'm seeing. For all the transparency of the impulse behind the piece (i.e. “the picture of free untrammeled womanhood”) it was complicated by both images of its opposite and the way it never settled, never resolved or clarified itself.

Glittery gold fabric both titilates and empowers, as well as references Solid Gold (or Dance Fever), circus, Aphrodite, and the Weimar Republic. Although the interest for me was not the range of references but their multiplicity and instability -- who is what when? "Not me, not here, not now, not for you. What about this? Nope, not that either. And this?"

What is the function of this construction of a reality? Is it a replication or a response? Or does it present another way of thinking about reality? And how will it stand up to the most devious eyes? From where I sit in envy it is approaching the intense rigor of a demand. One that demands things of reality (and of us) not through its images or its language or (most important) its point of view, but through its differences from reality.

Although sometimes you are so funny it takes a moment to catch up with this.


Hey, Charles--

Thanks for the feedback.  It's so helpful to have people articulate things from the outside that we struggle with on the inside.  The questions of the construction of reality and how that appears are really important and hard for us to answer, with our almost perverse dedication to not looking at our own work or having an outside director.

Phew. I think I'll be referencing your questions for a long time.