The Penis Elegies: The Fifth Elegy

I took you in my hand – you, your penis. 
Swallowed whole this turgid organ filled with stoic exuberance
Filled with vigorous, pumping ecstasy.

I took you in my hand – you, your penis. 
Thought how honest it was
Free from mankind’s distorted nature.

I took you in my hand – your, your penis. 
Softness turned hardness turned softness again
Fickle like my heart’s desires.

I took you in my hand not knowing
How much hurt you would cause when you let go
When you left me an empty shell
A flaccid yolk splattered like a blood stain
Melted like warm flesh across the pavement.

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The Penis Elegies: The Fourth Elegy

They sought me out, the tarnished one
The one who fucked freely
The one who enjoyed the taste of life’s sweet nectar (cum)
The one who shamelessly spread his legs for accommodating strangers.

I am hung from the rooftops 
I am fed to the dogs
I am burnt at the stake
But I am no killer, no vermin, no witch.
Not a charmer or madonna
Not a player or whore
I am just a man with longings and yearnings
With lusts and deep desires.

You should never fall for a cock
Only beautiful, baby blue eyes.

You should never fall for a cock
Only chiseled jaws carved from marble.

You should never fall for a cock 
Only voices, deep and cavernous.

Didn’t you know?
To put a gun in another man’s mouth and pull the trigger in the name 
Of war is bravery.
To put a cock in another man’s mouth and shoot your load in the name
Of love is deviancy.

A man should never love a cock
But I love cock and I love you.

The Penis Elegies: The Third Elegy

This dripping tends to leave me with a tendency
Filled with hopeful histrionics that make sense of nothing.

A pearl-white necklace worth little more than spit or piss
Covers my face with a glaze of broken desire.

Disappointment washes over me more than I can bear
When you fuck me like you care.
Like I’m some sort of virgin school girl.
Like I’m some sort of innocent lamb.
Like I’m some sort of Disney princess.

I need you more when you disgrace me
With affection that resembles a heart
Shaped like a loaded pistol.

Gestus part 1

Rooted in Chinese Opera, Geste is a dramatic tool, utilising gesture to convey character rather than psychological acting techniques.

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In it’s simplest form Brecht used the term Gestus to refer to a strong image, a tableau vivant, that could ecapsulate a scene without words. He also used a similar term, Geste, to refer to the simple strong physical gestures that could be used by an actor to convey or embody a character without having to inhabit the internal reality of a character as an actor following, for example, Stanislavsky’s teachings. Both of these ideas can be discussed under the banner “The Gestus”

So what does this mean for our production of Outbreak? Theory’s all very well but without practical applications it becomes, by turns, the terrifying and tedious contents of textbooks. Well, one way that the Gestus has proved invaluable for us has been as a way of displaying the power relationships between without having to tell the audience everything. Our set is very simple; black, plywood platforms set…

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Scripts by Audrey Baldwin

It is Saturday. I have an appointment at 2.20pm. I don’t know what for.

All I know is this: performance art.

Arrive early at the Art Space and wander for 10 minutes or so.

Appointment in the booth, but booth is occupied.

Two voices. One female. The other male.

2.25pm. Audrey, who I am meeting, pops out, as does the unknown male.

They say goodbye. He leaves. I enter.

My session, appointment, show, whatever…begins.

We talk – I know Audrey from the past.

The past: Christchurch.

Right hand lies open. Fingernails ready to be painted.

Covered in red nail polish. Red like blood. Dark dark dark red.

A table laid out with assorted items. Pick up to 5, she says.

Boost, googly eyes, charcoal, rope. Why?

I don’t know.

She strips. Turns her back towards me.

Her ass is covered in eyes.

Eyes (mine) watching her ass. Her eyes (ass) watch me.

Stare at the ass and the ass stares back at you.

I draw her.

Tick tock…boost fizzes, counting down like an hourglass.

We speak of our art briefly as this goes on.

We both wish for audiences to be less passive.

More… involved.

More… engaged.

More… culpable.

Artaud is mentioned.

Maybe a cinema or theatre of…

Desire.

She hands me the script.

A prescription, perhaps.

A script to live by, perhaps.

A gift, perhaps.

The show is over. Life goes on.

Nathan's script

The Penis Elegies: The Second Elegy

I saw you struggle to contain it
Within the seams of your dirty jeans. 
This was the charming of the snake.

I saw you struggle to tame it
My ass was both carrot and stick.
This was the breeding of the horse.

I saw you struggle to explain it
As your seed exploded past my face.
This was the flapping of the dove.

Film Reviews: Wild Tales, The Reunion

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My reviews for Wild Tales and The Reunion can be read here at The Lumière Reader.

Film Review: Two Days, One Night

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My review for the Dardenne’s latest film can be found here at The Lumière Reader.

The Penis Elegies: The First Elegy

Your phallus, 
So stout in its erectness,
A statue of greatness,
Plants a warmth inside my lower depths.

Your shaft,
A willing member of our union,
Free of scruples and neurosis,
Acts on the purest animal lust, not love.

Your meat,
Too proud in its prime, 
Stands free, above all other meagre offerings,
Takes what it wants without hesitation.

Phaedra x3

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“I tried to suppress my mad feelings. That didn’t work. You can’t suppress Aphrodite.”
—Euripides (trans. Anne Carson), Hippolytus

“The first sight of him ripped my wounds open. No longer a fever in my veins, Venus had fastened on me like a trigger.”
—Racine, Phèdre

“Can’t switch this off. Can’t crush it. Can’t. Wake up with it, burning me. Think I’ll crack open I want him so much.”
—Sarah Kane, Phaedra’s Love

There are few figures in Greek mythology as tragic as Phaedra. And, if we accept Greek mythology as the benchmark of tragedy (rivalled only by the works of Shakespeare), then we must accept Phaedra as one of the most tragic figures in all of literature.

Though married to Theseus, Phaedra is in love with his son Hippolytus, her stepson. She cannot bear it. It literally makes her sick, killing her slowly. Her nurse, Oenone, tries to save Phaedra by telling Hippolytus of her symptom and the cause. Hippolytus is disgusted and threatens to tell his father. Phaedra, ashamed, kills herself, but not before leaving a note accusing Hippolytus of her crime. Theseus ends up cursing his son with the aid of Poseidon. Eventually he learns of the truth.

There are many iterations of this story in theatre. I have read three. There is the original Hippolytus by Euripides, which closely follows the above synopsis. The cause of Phaedra’s love is directly attributed to the goddess Aphrodite in this version, punishing Hippolytus for spurning love and women. Love is a tool of the gods, something humans cannot overcome. There’s a fatalism and inevitability in the premise.

The second version I am familiar with is Racine’s Phèdre. In this version the gods, while blamed, are never directly attributed to the cause of Phaedra’s sickness. So, while acknowledging the Greek setting and the relevance of the Gods at the time, Racine is more concerned with the psychological ramifications of the story. In his version, Hippolytus is no longer represented as a sort of asexual figure. This is used to add an element of jealousy to Phaedra’s love for him. Overall it’s a pretty faithful retelling of the story with subtle additions that ground it in a more modern perspective.

The last version I’ve read is Sarah Kane’s tragicomic bastardisation Phaedra’s Love. Her main contribution to the story is an intense nihilism mixed with sex and profanity. With no regard for the original setting, she makes the language contemporary. It works though. It’s a fucked up play. In this version Hippolytus doesn’t rebuff Phaedra’s affections, but he doesn’t quite return them either. He just uses her for (oral) sex and rejects her. The rest of the play follows somewhat closely to the original, though filtered through grand guignol.

It’s interesting to note that the naming of the later plays is indicative of an understanding (on the playwright’s part) that the heart of the story is Phaedra rather than Hippolytus. She is the driving force behind the narrative, both her love and shame.

I love this whole fashion of taking classic stories are remodelling them to suit your own needs and intentions. And I don’t just mean in a dramaturgical sense. I don’t mean changing Macbeth to a corporate setting and cutting a couple of scenes and you’ve got a new play. That’s not a new play. That’s looking at an old play from a fresh perspective.

I’m talking about building upon the ideas of our predecessors. That to me is the crux of all writing. Firstly, we must accept no thought or idea can be truly original. Secondly, we must accept nothing is sacred. Thirdly, we must to what we can to be, above all else, honest. Forget about originality. What matters is sincerity.

Bastardise. Steal. Adapt. Translate.. Recreate. Deconstruct. Rebuild. Abridge. Expand. Mutate. Invert. These are just a few our tools as writers. We’d be foolish not to use them.