« "Why are you so angry?" (trickster part deux) | Main | home for a minute »

Shahrazad

Completion of communication. Not missing parts. Time for full receiving and resolve; go all the way to the end of the exhale. Also, the giver receives the impact of what they gave, they see their effect. Often we are afraid to let an action proceed, complete and let go. We are afraid that if it ends there will never be anything else. Know that the next impulse will always come. Following through moves us forward through time. Something has happened. Something is different.

This is what actors do. Figure out what is them and what is me. You can never not be yourself.
In someone else's world, all parts and secrets of that world. They are only one piece.
There is an instant when you see the world change.

We are working with the story of Shahrazad (1,001 nights). The idea of telling stories. How we tell them to survive, and how people might be redeemed in the listening. Simply: there is a vengeful king. He caught his wife cheating and so each night he will sleep with a virgin and then the next morning, she will be killed. He does this until the only two virgins left in the kingdom are the executioner’s two daughters. There was a deal that said the executioners daughters would not have to go, but Shahrazad, the older daughter, begged her father to let her go. She went and took her younger sister with her. She hid the sister under the bed so that she might learn---from what she did right and wrong.

As the king was falling asleep, Shahrazad started telling a story. The king fell asleep in the middle. The next morning, he did not kill her because he wanted to hear how the story ended. She was very well educated and knew many stories. She kept this up for 1,001 nights. In this time, she had three sons. On the 1,001 night, the king granted her freedom from death and they were married.

My thing about all this: the stories she told were violent and demeaning to women. She was saving her own life by joining with exactly the thinking that put her life at risk. This made me wonder about the stories we tell and even the language we use (I wonder about this often). Our stories, each time we tell them, do they free us or do they keep us bound?

Also operating is the lens of the story of Lucia Joyce. “Lucia” is the piece that Mabou brought to perform and discuss and I think it is significant to the way we are seeing this story. Lucia was James Joyce’s daughter. She was institutionalized for most of her life. She was brilliant without boundaries. She was Joyce’s muse and it is thought that much of his experiments in language came from her. Jung worked with Lucia. She thought that he was stealing her soul…but maybe that was her father. Jung said of Lucia and James: two people are going to the bottom of a river. One is diving, the other is drowning.
In the telling (…researching and constructing) of the piece “Lucia” were issues of telling a real person’s story and making them property of your fiction. Appropriation, silencing and broadcasting seemed to be themes of Lucia’s life. She was silenced—she was locked up for 50 years, however, her words and musings on them have become some of the best know literature.

I was thinking about the silent partners in the creating of this reality. I was thinking about the trickiness of any stance or action. I wanted to write a subversive stance for 1,001 nights. I wondered how we could speak the unspoken. Shahrazad told so many stories, but what was her story? (in terms of the big picture of this project, the story of her emotions has been interpreted in a song that is being sung in English and Farci). Yeah. This has a lot to do with speaking the unspoken, speaking for the silenced, and also with letting the unspoken speak. Ruth worked with me on and off for over two hours, getting me to write in the voices I’ve been told not to trust.

(so these are my sections of text, they will be book-ended with a poem and, in between, other things happen. This is like the textual frame. P.S. all the while there is live music, movement, and puppets in an installation)
*************************
(1)

Yes. Sleep, you vile bastard. Stop asking me to speak. What if I have nothing else to say? What if I’ve been screaming all these years but you never heard me through my volume? What if I have nothing else to say to you? You voyeur. You’re always watching. What else can you steal? Fall apart for yourself, for once. I can’t hold anymore of your pain.

So what? She was unfaithful. Now you want to kill us all? Not me, though. You love my stories. But the stories are really you. I spit you back your own words as my dowry. Word by word, I build my tomb. But in the breath between words hangs the unspoken. The dance of these silenced women and lives cut short.

Guilty. Why am I living? I compromised just enough. Today, you said that I can live to raise our children. Now, do I live out this story I wrote? I can’t remember if this is how I wanted it to end. This breath: is this my last dream?


(2)

Sister, are you there? I guess you’re sleeping. That’s good. I want you to be happy. But I need you to listen now. You see what I’m doing here? This is woman’s work. Silence is necessary for survival. It’s okay to tell them what they want to hear.

It’s a kind of triage. Its okay if you die on the inside a little bit right now. Shhhh! Would you rather be dead? It’s time to grow up and claim your ignorance. This is what women do. The truth is spoken in code.


(3)

I am the story listener. I don’t know why.
I listen with the innocence of a child. And I am moved.
I look for the Question in this sea of answers. Maybe this world is real. For a moment,
I am redeemed. And I am in love.

They have walked off now, and left me alone. My breath is my dry tear. Inhale, and I ask: What is exhale? What does it mean to come to it’s end?

Please. Tell me what “mercy” means.
Give me refuge in your words.

*************************************************
I came with the idea of three voices and Ruth made me see how they were mine.

The first voice is my anger. Especially at the times that I’ve had to be Shahrazad and fuck and tell stories to survive. I’m cool with him now (that he’s been dead for ten years). But this voice speaks to my father.

In the second voice, Shahrazad speaks to her sister, Dinarzad. What the first voice was fighting has now been internalized. I wrote this to my sister. She’s thirteen. That is probably about right.

The third voice is the redemption. Stories build our cages, but they also free us. Maybe the king truly was transformed in the listening. Maybe Shahrazad really was transformed in the telling. Maybe they each came to a place in themselves where they really could love another. I wrote this to my path as a therapist (and as a listener in general).


By the time I finished writing, my right eye was turned all the way in. She questioned and validated me until I was looking all the way in and out. I looked up at Ruth. She said, “oh…you’re eye has a squint in it.”
“that happens sometimes”
“Lucia’s eye had a squint in it, just like that. You see it in the pictures”
“uh oh”
“no. its good! Its good. And I will have to show you the book, your notes look like James Joyce’s”
It seems I am both the diving and the drown.

Post a comment