C Dylan Bassett, The Invention of Monsters/Plays For the Theatre, Plays Inverse, 2015
1. THE INVENTION OF MONSTERS
[1 Act, 18 Scenes]
The difference between pretend and become is slight in these scenes.
Bassett bluffs, so we scramble up his steep deceit.
The stages manifest across "various sampled geographies," a best-fit plotline by which the audience must apprehend its principal actor.
The audience is obtuse. We lean in closer, await patient explanations: "You misunderstand, my funny demon voice is my real voice."
Play becomes real.
There are paradoxes in the representation of self:
This is a metaphysical form of hypochondriasis.
as when he performs his gender one last time before self-castration. The uncanny lop.
The patent on this monster is ever-pending.
The costume department has fashioned a "Dracula mask from a paper plate" for the occasion.
It sustains the tension between what's macabre and what's mundane.
Yellow is a solute that can dissolve the book's savagery. Here it basks in various beams directed at the stage.
2. FANTASIES ABOUT COWBOYS
[1 Act, 13 Scenes]
One might implicate the stagehands in a light bulb joke.
Instead, Bassett displaces the cliché, stems the wound of stereotype by asking, "How many cocks can you fit inside one cowboy?"
On stage, nudity makes everything equitable again: "we cannot remember whom to pity, whom to blame."
The blade is a constant prop, its utility universal. It de-robes (reveals), eye-gouges (conceals), castrates (transforms), and mutilates (deforms: a doll at a gendered campfire).
Bassett doesn't subscribe to organ permanence
or object permanence. "Autumn downloads its leaves" suggests pixelated pigmentation (technological sublime) or a malapropism for leaf shedding.
The nearest thing to permanence is memory, its concentric recall:
The speaker has been placed into abyss, a mise en abyme in which memory rewards itself with accession ad infinitum.
3. SCENES OF HEROISM
[1 Act, 9 Scenes]
This play begins with deceit too. "The sentence begins in terror"—though, in fact, the sentence begins "The sentence" and ends "in terror."
Bassett solicits a closer reader. I become an audience so proximal I might be mistaken as a background actor.
In this act, the theater is a global microcosm (think warfare). The theatre reflects the audience's complicity.
Bassett's multiple-negative constructions ("Whatever hasn't happened never will.") resolve to a positive, and language is potentiated by the speaker's syntactic failure to oppress.
Verse can be worn like a reversible shirt: a rigorous rhetoric for all political climates and seasons.
Consider the elasticity of Rumsfeld's double ignorance (i.e., "we don't know we don't know").
Infantry coalesces as the theatre: "The jungle is soldiers in jungle camouflage." This is the nature of violence.
4. A TENT FOR THE NIGHT
[1 act , 9 scenes]
Now, Bassett invokes Marina Abramovic's Balkan Erotic Epic in which
These are plays for the theatre in so far as where there's an observer, there's a performance.
Gender roles are folkloric, apocryphal.
We broadcast seeds and wait to reap; in the meantime, we chew on ourselves like a "Hawk eats its own wings."
Autocannabalism is one manner of staying grounded.
On the stage, as on a plane, one must "secure [their] mask before assisting others."
If ouroboros—like living in a photograph of yourself—is a zero-sum game, a parlor trick that equally disintegrates and replenish the self, what is an authentic acquisition?
For Bassett, love is an affectionate brand of theft: "To love something you must carry it on your back."
Aronson, Arnold. American Set Design. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1985. Print.
Brockett, Oscar. The Theatre: An Introduction. 1964. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974. Print.
Jovicic, Mile. "Marina Abramovi?." Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 5 June 2014. Oct. 2015.
Welker, David. Theatrical Set Design. 1969. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1979. Print.