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The Boy & La Cucuracha's Siren Song
No matter what else could be said about La Cucuracha, she was a cheap date, no need to deal with the messiness of real life. She fed off of The Helix Boy, growing stronger as he grew weaker. She devoured it all--his life, his mind, his heart, his soul. She fed off of him. More and more, The Boy found himself hiding away in the dark, losing himself in the glow of the computer screen where she lived, entering her world, fearing life. She called herself his "Mrs.", he called her "my baby," they had "their song," though they'd never met and never would, (that was her allure--he would never let that happen, reality terrified him.)
La Cucuracha Photoshopped his profile pictures to look like she and The Boy were together, , creating a twenty-first century trompe l'oeil—at one point even superimposing her national flag over his face. People in the real world who knew The Boy, professionally and personally, knew beyond a doubt that his mind had slipped away. He hid behind the cyber facade, the character he'd created for the internet. In the real world, he spoke of his fear of his "enemies." His paranoia and phobias grew--of bridges and heights, of riding in cars, of animals, of crossing streets; his terror of taking a chance; of love...of getting hurt. He sunk deeper into the screen, descending into isolation and fear; windows covered, he sat in his dark rented attic room in the crumbling house, lost in the screens--watching films on an old and dusty tv when he wasn't "with" La Cucuracha. He masked his recluse despot reality behind the illusion of the computer, created an online persona and life until even he was taken in and could not escape. Only La Cucuracha was real to him now. He told her the Woman did not exist (this came as a surprise to his friends who knew him and the woman together.) The chimera was safely on the other side of the world, she put on a good show. He watched endless streams of dvd films on the old television from the mattress on his floor, then wrote about them on an obscure blog online. Played guitar and sang alone in his dark attic room in the crumbling house, posting songs for La Cucuracha to MySpace. Rarely leaving the house at all now, the illusion was complete. Isolated, paranoid and alone but for La Cucuracha, love, light and life passed him by. In the end all that remained of The Boy was the husk of an empty shell, Alone in the moldering dark and littered squalor, smelling of mildew and decay, lit only by the colorless glow of the screen, he had slipped into insanity, lured by the clicking siren song of La Cucuracha.
Woman, flesh and blood, loved The Boy. They had attended the same childhood school, and met again 45 years later. Now, through the seasons, they were inseparable; they loved, cracked up at life, shared secrets and friends. He left his dark attic room; they went everywhere together hand in hand, curled together to watch a thousand movies on his mattress on the floor. They held hands through thirty two films at the film festival, and he called her the Queen of Cinema P. She brought him food, stocked his cupboards; they cooked for each other. She brought him medicine when he was sick, balm when he was wounded, sheets and pillows for his mattress on the floor. He covered the holes in his coat with duct tape and long strips of packing tape, the Woman mended his clothes. She edited the manuscript of a tawdry, cheap dime-store novel he had written. He said he felt human again, and Woman did, too. Arm in arm, hand in hand, he introduced Woman to his friends as his girlfriend. Woman reached for him, cried for him, tried to pull him from the tentacled grasp of La Cucuracha, but in the end, he slipped away into the small dark movie of his mind. Woman could only watch helplessly, weeping, filled with pity and love as he faded back into the small dark fantasy of the screen, a sad savant, devoured by La Cucuracha. (While La Cucuracha wasn't the only woman that had slipped into his virtual delusion [the kindhearted Grecian who called him William-o, he said, was "loaded"], La Cucuracha sang the siren song that brought him down.) He sat in the dark, lit only by the cold blue light of his computer screen, tattered hand towels at the ready, balanced on his broken chair, his only chair, next to his mattress on the littered floor, playing his guitar, composing and posting songs for "my baby", La Cucuracha.
The woman last saw him at the end of 2010. A hunched 60-year old man, dwarfish, with old platform shoes, white tufts of unkempt thinning hair, his remaining teeth yellowed and rotting, pitted pasty skin and chronically dripping nose. A broken, cowardly little man, he was alone with his phobias and fears, consumed by La Cucuracha. In the spring, the woman returned home to find he had entered her apartment with the key he still had while she was away. He left books and cd's she had loaned him and took
MTPI no.13: Nebulous Disappearance Productions Presents Medea
For this miniature transient public installation, I wanted to construct a realistic sculptural still-life of a staged theatrical production.
I chose to recreate a scene from Death of a Salesman using unconventional casting. For the scene, Willie Loman was to be played by Richard Nixon and his sons by Ralph Nader and the political theorist Robert Nozick (not to be confused with conservative pundit Robert Novak, a true American patriot unjustly pilloried by the Left for exposing one of the spies in our midst – Valerie Plame. And to those who claim “but she was our spy”, I say a spy is a spy is a spy.)
I went down to Pearl Art Supplies to buy modeling clay, but was scared off by cost of the roughly 1,200 5lb blocks I’d need to complete my vision and the impracticality of fitting them all in a ’97 Honda Accord in one trip. It’s no wonder so many sculptors these days are working with scrap metal and found objects.
I needed to find cheaper actors. So I bought some mannequins at a local thrift store and quickly recreated a preliminary version of the scene in the laundry room of my apartment building. The result was uninspiring. It lacked a certain verisimilitude.
When you get right down to it, part of what makes live drama so riveting is that the actors tend to move and speak. The only play I ever heard of which bucked this trend was the 1917 production of Eugene Neublanc’s “The Paralysis”, in which the great French actor Henri Recard reclined motionless in a bathtub staring at the ceiling for 3 hours – or at least would have if the riot had not broken out.
So I needed speech and movement, and frankly, possibly a better understanding of how to actually stage a drama. Where better to turn than the ancient Greeks?
I settled on Euripedes’ Medea. I identified with Medea in the sense that I’m pretty sure I’ve dated some of her descendents.
I updated the text to take place in Greenwich, Connecticutt circa 1986 and slightly tweaked the main characters of Medea and Jason into champion dog breeders (Medea’s two children were now “Gepetto”, a miniature-schnauzer, and “Beauty”, a Chinese crested hairless).
For the vocals, I was able to remix audio clips from the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, the collector’s edition DVD of “The Best of the Dean Martin Roasts”, and a tape of the 1985 Westiminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
After blanketing the city with fliers for “Nebulous Disappearance Productions presents Medea”, I ended up staging it in the storefront window of an abandoned building in Olde City, choosing a curtain time of 2 AM to capitalize on the foot traffic as the bars let out.
Apparently, there are not that many fans of experimental drama on the streets at that time.
And apparently, the bouncers at these establishments are not very good at making sure no one leaves with a beer bottle.
Less than 15 minutes into the performance, after repeated cries of "this sucks!" from the assembled crowd, the bottles started flying. I had to join in myself at one point to get away in one piece, although I do feel a little guilty at pointing to a harmless street musician and yelling, “There’s the director there! He’s the one! Get him!” to cover my exit.
Maybe Euripides was right:
Many a hopeless matter gods arrange.
What we expected never came to pass,
What we did not expect the gods brought to bear;
So have things gone, this whole experience through!
Storefront window, Joan Shep, 17th & Walnut, Philadelphia, PA
Under my theory of "If you can think it, someone's probably already done it", by now someone has to have tried staging a play in which the actors are remote-controlled mannequins and the dialogue is 100% remixed audio samples.
Maybe not Medea by Euripides though.
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