Friday, February 13, 2015


A very strange play on and by women


The ternary structure and motif of the play is fascinating or even mesmerizing. It should make this play or this life spin like a top and yet it does not really move. And that is the mystery of the play itself. Three seems to become a curse. The language is extremely repetitive with a great number of pairs and triplets and at times structures of four elements.

“We had a beautiful red and white bungalow on a beautiful beach by a beautiful bay.”

You have the three “beautiful” but also the there adjectives “beautiful red and white” and the three nouns in “b”: “bungalow,” “beach” and “bay.” This music is then amplified with modulations in the next lines.

“A dilapidated old bungalow in New Jersey on a dirty beach of a dirty polluted bay.”
“My father bought a great big red and white boat with a great big windshield and a great big motor.”

The three examples here are practically one after the other within ten or twelve lines.

The three sisters are like Shakespeare’s famous three weird sisters. They have like a magic that becomes a curse. Elizabeth, Gloria and Muriel, ordered like that according to their age can either be children with their father, or grown ups at their real age in the action, but what action? The play itself is the intertwining, at times overlapping association of three media: We can hear the recording qualified as “poverty tape,” watch the images on the screen at the back of the stage from a 16 mm projector of films that were made by some uncle and that show the past, and finally the action on the stage itself and the three sisters constantly shifting from the present to the past and vice versa, present or past they just tell.

The quotations I have given are at an essential moment when the three sisters remember their father in that bungalow on a  beach who renovated an old boat. The text tells us it took him three years, three summers to restore it to an acceptable shape. Yet on that third summer he tried to sail it and it took on water and sank, till eventually the next summer when the father would work on it again.

If we take this story of the boat we can consider it represents life and that people are engaged in such a life without any possible escape from or change in their routines, in their lots. That is the curse of permanence in this life. So the ternary motif, structure and language can evoke a top spinning but it is spinning all the time and forever without the slightest change, the slightest movement from one spot where it seems to be glued. That’s the vision of this life given by the play. It is in no way Indian per se, or even feminine per se. It is the fate of all people, male or female, Indian or not, who take life as a routine, and the vision seems to imply that life is always a routine, an unchanging repetitive predesigned and pre-digested sequence of events. In this play the permanent pattern giving character seems to be the father, though we could also consider it is the poverty recorded on the tape that is playing behind. It is difficult to really imagine what the play would be if it were performed. The text itself is far from being clear enough to “see” the production we could have on a stage. In fact we may think the poverty tape continues all along and yet we do not have the full tape, just one excerpt at the beginning and the stage direction (Poverty tape continues.) And that is all.

That tape tells us two girls are 13 and 15 and we can guess from the play that the third one who is called a baby is a lot younger. Gloria is keen on saying she is not the eldest but only the second, whereas Muriel is supposed to be the youngest. But that poverty tape is not really about poverty but about teenagers who want a dime for some machine to make 60 cents  with the two quarters they seem to already have. It sounds a lot more childish than poor.

Altogether this play is a mystery as for its feminine or its Indian dimensions. We are dealing with three girls who are absolutely contemplative in front of the world, which may be a characteristic of any young teenager who has not been able to have great contact with the outside world, who has been sort of locked up in her (and it might be his) family.


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?