This is not the most representative of the 15 or so Brief Amaze performance "scripts" but it is the only one at hand. This was the second performance, made at Southern Exposure on June 29th, 1990, just before taking the piece on tour throughout Eastern Europe. Brief Amaze was specifically designed as a modular, mutable inquiry into the physical & conceptual nuances of each site in which it was made, and thus each has, in retrospect at least, a thematic core. Responding as it is to recently lost love, an imminent birthday & an impending adventure, this version heaps on the bathos in an attempt to suture it through irony and exaggeration. The attempt is probably a failure. For more discussion of this version's merits & deficits, see the appropiate posting on the Brief Amaze 1990 blog.BRIEF AMAZEMan, blindfolded with a gauze bandage, naked, crawls out from under a white shroud. Around his neck hangs a rope tied to a parking meter, which he drags over to a pile of clothing, also shrouded, center stage. He uncovers this clothing and dresses himself: black suit, tie, shoes, white shirt. Taped to his hands are two quarters. Once dressed, he moves drags the parking meter to the front row of the audience, where he feels the faces of the audience until he finds the one he’s looking for. When he has found her he tears the quarters from his wrists and offers them to her. He holds out the parking meter until she places the coins in the meter, turning the handle. He then takes the rope off his own neck and ties it around hers. He then moves to sit at a chair in front of a table.
This is where we begin.
He takes a stone from the table and crams it into his mouth. He pours water from a large silver bowl into a glass. Water spills. He holds the glass with his right hand, which begins to shake more and more violently, spilling water as he raises the glass and attempts to drink. The stone prevents this and finally the glass falls from his hand to the floor. After a moment he takes the stone from his mouth and carefully wraps and ties it with twine.
Pray for me who am so miserable. He laughs.He ties the stone around his neck, then holds his hand out as if reaching to touch someone.
Anyone.Eventually someone from the audience comes up and touches his hand. As soon as this happens, he unwraps his blindfold to reveal bloodied eyes. He pulls a paper from the pocket of his coat and reads.
It is precisely for this reason that we continue to regard these phenomena as extensions of ourselves, continue to put words around them as if we are describing what we see. As if remorse had four legs and feathers. As if joy raised blisters on the fingers. As if sorrow laid lips on our neck. As if pain were actually the tip of the knife.He picks up a large razor blade and makes several incisions into his forearms, deep enough to provoke a steady flow of blood. He moves to a standing blackboard and begins to write.
THE HORRORS OF
THE POSSIBILITIES FOR LOVE
THE POSSIBILITIES FOR
THE POSSIBILITIES FOR REDEMPTION ARE ENDING
THE POSSIBILITIES FOR REDEMPTION ARE ENDLESSHe erases ENDLESS, writes it again, erases it, writes it again, over and over until his piece of chalk is reduced to nothing. He then dismantles the blackboard, lays it on the floor. He walks over and takes the rope from around the woman’s neck, puts the end of the rope in her hand. He moves to another shroud, uncovers a heavy suitcase which he drags over to center stage. When he opens it, light shines out from flashlights, already on, under the stones which fill the suitcase.
Blistermen. Pus for seventy and down again, that noise again. Wagons of salt, heaps of salt. He whistles. Your mother’s crawled out of her basket again, witing to be fed. A trail of burnt-out campfires. Empty food tins and small piles of shit poorly buried. I lay down again in the dirt to spit my love out. Later we separate, look up at stars and try to dream.He removes flashlights from suitcase, lays them on floor, shining onto suitcase. He picks the suitcase up and dumps the squarish stones onto the floor. Puts suitcase away, then piles stones into a pyramid. Put flammable paste on top stone, lights it. Takes off his clothes and crawls in a circle until the fire goes out. About ten or fifteen minutes. Puts his clothes back on. Goes to audience, gives someone a razor blade with which to cut rope holding stone around his neck. Then Man gets this person to come up on stage, bringing his chair with him and sitting in it.Then Man gets a woman from audience to stand on stage with him, holding his hand for one minute. Then he puts camouflage mask on, holds her hand again for one minute, takes mask off, gets woman’s chair and seats her in it next to the seated man. Then Man fastens a large dog muzzle over his face and somewhat brusquely tells another woman to take her chair and sit on stage next to the others. Then he takes off dog muzzle and puts on a black vapor respirator and pays a man a five-dollar bill to move with his chair to the onstage row.Then he removes the respirator and puts on a kind of jester’s hat, picks up a short golden hoe and gets a man to stand on stage with him. He shoves this man around until this man gets angry, then Man gives him the hoe and kneels before him. Once the man does something, anything, the Man tries to talk him into getting his chair and adding himself to the onstage row. When all these people are in place, Man hangs golden yams around their neck and places party hats on their heads. Man then takes off his jacket and shirt and sits at table. After he finishes painting half his face black and half white, he begins a conversation with himself which quickly turns to an argument. As he speaks, he turns first one side of his face, then the other, towards the audience. As White speaks he is seated. As Red speaks he stands.
Despite that. In spite of that. Because that exists to be struggled against.
Passion. Commitment. Madness.
Hah! Get Real.
A lifetime of vicious and inconsequential lies.
White:Sort of growls, then holds up a fist, uncurls finger for each of his points
: Penetration. Squalor. Romance. Ignorance. And injury.
Red:Bends over closer to White’s chair
. Laziness. Points at his own head
. Sentimentality. Points at his own eyes.
Cupidity. Points at his own lips
. Nostalgia! Points at his own ass
.White grabs Red’s neck.
Imagination.Red pushes White’s wrist away.
Imaginary.White slaps Red’s face, Red slaps White’s, they slap each other four or five times until finally White spits at Red. Red grabs White by the neck and lunges at him. Together they go tumbling backwards over the chair onto the floor, where they roll around wrestling with each other until they are too tired to continue. After a moment’s rest, Man crawls over to pyramid of stones and tries to stack stones one on top of the other. He stops when the unstable stack finally falls over.Then he gets up and unshrouds a bundle of red candles upstage left, crawls onto table, lights candles and holds them over his head so that red wax drips onto his naked back. Then he crawls back down off table, takes off the rest of his clothes, goes over and unshrouds wheelchair, puts on party hat, grabs bugle, lights firepaste which is on a stone on the seat of the wheelchair, pushes wheelchair to downstage center, plays Happy Birthday to himself on bugle. Then he drops to the floor and crawls around wheelchair until fire goes out. Man gets up and puts clothes back on, sits at table, powders his face, puts makeup on lips and eyes, sips from large silver water bowl for awhile. He takes some deep breaths and then lowers his face and head into the water for as long as he can stand it. When he finally comes up for air, performance is over.