Scott MacLeod
    Theater & Performance Texts

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     Tuesday, April 04, 2006


This performance was made at Southern Exposure on January 25th, 1995, within the large installation, Even If Such An Object Outside Us Were Unimportant, that I'd made on the main floor of the gallery. Like the installation, the performance was focused on the ambiguous nature of ideological language and physical symbols, particularly as they refered to Communism, Fascism & recent political transitions in Eastern Europe. For all intents & purposes, this was the end result of the mutations undergone by the first Southern Exposure Brief Amaze performance (described in the previous post.) This text below is the actual script for my performance. I don't think there's any documentation of this performance, so the photo above is from my 1991 performance at Dobřany Psychiatric Hospital, Czech Republic, entitled The Dreams of Albrecht von Wallenstein: Coal.


Performer enters space wearing dark suit and two-wheeled “golf caddy” strapped to one leg, so that performer’s gait is: step, roll, step, roll, etc.

Climb short ladder and smash hanging light bulbs with hammer.

Turn on boom box which plays Mekons’ Eve Future from Retreat From Memphis.

Turn on light bulb hanging over table center stage.

Turn on German Vocabulary tape. Sit unraveling used typewriter ribbon from IBM Selectric II cartridge.

Kevin Pontuti walks on stage and carries boom box offstage while Mekons song still plays. Turns volume all the way down slowly after he’s completely offstage.

Keep unraveling typewriter ribbon until German tape stops & tape of Laurie Amat singing Simon & Garfunkel’s The Boxer begins.

Put down typewriter ribbon, take of suit jacket, shave head with foam, water & straight razor.

Put suit jacket back on, open suitcase, take out black paint & brush and paint a necktie onto my white shirt.

Put the brush into a glass of water, get out shot glasses and Stolichnaya bottle.

Turn videotape on. Turn slides on (auto-advance).

Stare at audience for awhile, then ask for a volunteer to read the following play with you:

My Struggle

Two actors sit at a table with a bottle of vodka and two glasses between them. One close light suspended above. One pours into both glasses, they toast each other, “To the Fatherland!” or “To the Motherland!” or similar sentiments, and drain the glasses quickly, in the Russian style.

The Old Professor:
All my experiences, particularly after I had outgrown my adolescence (which in my case was an extremely painful process), reinforced my profound distaste for the profession which my father had chosen for me. My conviction grew stronger and stronger that I would never be happy as a civil servant. The fact that by this time my gift for drawing had been recognized at my high school made my determination all the firmer.

Neither pleas nor threats could change it one bit.

The Old Professor:
I wanted to become a painter and no power in the world could make me a civil servant.

And yet, strange as it may seem, with the passing years he became more and more interested in architecture.

The Old Professor:
At that time I regarded this as a natural complement to my gift as a painter, and only rejoiced inwardly at the extension of my artistic scope.

He did not suspect that things would turn out differently.

The Old Professor:
There arises in me a confused muddle of memorized facts. Facts which are not only useless but also make me, their unfortunate possessor, conceited.

He now believes himself in all seriousness to be “educated,” to understand something of life, to have knowledge, while, in reality, with every new acquisition of this kind of “education,” he is growing more and more removed from the world until, not infrequently, he ends up in a sanatorium.

The Old Professor:
Or in parliament. Pause. Never will my mind succeed in culling from the confusion of this “knowledge” anything that suits the demands of the hour.

His intellectual ballast is not organized along the lines of life but rather in the sequence of books as he has read them, in the same order as their content has piled up in his brain.

The Old Professor:
If Fate, in the requirements of my daily life, desires to remind me to make a correct application of what I have “learned,” it should indicate title and page number, since poor fool I will otherwise never in all my life find the correct place.

Poor fool he.

The Old Professor:
But Fate does not do this.

These bright boys in any critical situation come into the most terrible embarrassment, cast about convulsively for analagous- He is interrupted by the Old Professor.

The Old Professor:
Anyone in this world who does not succeed in being hated by his adversaries does not seem to me to be worth much as a friend!

Here there is an awkward and silent pause as the two actors look at each other. Then the Old Professor passes out drunkenly, his head lolling onto the table.

For if a generation suffers from faults which it recognizes, even admits, but nevertheless (as occurs today in our bourgeois world) contents itself with the cheap excuse that there is nothing to be done about it - such a society is doomed. The characteristic thing about our bourgeois world is precisely that it can no longer deny the ailments as such. It must admit that much is rotten and bad, but it no longer finds the determination to rebel against the evil, to muster the force of a people of sixty or seventy millions with embittered energy, and oppose it to the danger. On the contrary: if this is done elsewhere, silly comments are made about it, and they attempt from a distance at least to prove the theoretical impossibility of the method and declare success to be inconceivable. And no reason is too....

A bell ringing at some point during Mephisto’s last speech ends the speech and wakes up the Old Professor, who pours two more shots of vodka and thanks the volunteer. The bell is followed by a tape of Lenin speaking. When it’s over, the performer once again solicits a volunteer from the audience and performs “My Struggle,” which is again interrupted just before the end by the ring of a bell and then an audio excerpt of Stalin speaking.

The performance continues in this fashion, alternating performances of “My Struggle” with audio segments featuring, in order: Hitler speaking, a Cancerian astrology tape and an excerpt from Peter Maxwell-Davies’ “Eight Songs for a Mad King.”

During “Eight Songs…” the performer will make a sort of bed or ceremonial bier of the table by throwing a red sheet or Russian flag over it. Performer will then lie on the table motionless during the first movement (“Elegy”) of Shostakovich’s String Quartet #15.

When it’s over, the performer arises and once again solicits a volunteer from the audience and performs “My Struggle,” which is again interrupted just before the end by the ring of a bell and then an audio excerpt of Trotsky speaking.

The performance continues in this fashion, alternating performances of “My Struggle” with audio segments featuring, in order: Breshnev speaking, “Love On the Dole,” “Der Leid der Begarbeiter,” “The Red Flag” and a song about Stalin. After this final audio segment “My Struggle” is performed once more. When it’s over the entire performance is over.

[Note: In a situation in which there is no desire for or possibility of video or audio, the actors may simply repeat the toast and “My Struggle” over and over until the bottle is empty or until they are too drunk to continue.

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