ISOLATING ELEMENTS OR MODULES IN A STORY
Updated: Mar 30
Very early on I began to break up the components of the ‘play’ or story into their individual elements, and then I’d magnify them. I would focus an entire project just on one part, one module.
By making moments modular, then I could put modules in different configurations in order to create different things.
For example, in Epiphany: True Human Stories (2010 – ongoing), I isolated the turning point in a play, (the moment of realization and something in the plot changes because of it), and created a live project where the public shared their own turning points of their lives, in a performance setting. The “turning point” is just one module that can be found in a story. There are a number of modules. Another module is the “internal monologue” or “the pause” or “dialogue” or “stage direction” or “crowd scene” or “climax”. By isolating it and magnifying, we open up their potential. Through STO Union, I have or am doing shows now that focus solely on the turning point/realization moment (Epiphany), the inner monologue (SEOL), and the pause (still to be titled).
In STO Union’s first mainstage play in 1994, The Alistair Trilogy, Diane Cave and I isolated the ‘murder scene’ from some of the cannon’s great plays. Each scene was of a murder of a woman. We just took them out of the larger context they were in, and put them up against each other, and started to work with that, as a basic text. Iphigenia’s death by Agamemnon, Marie’s murder by Woyzeck, and Squeaky Fromme’s final monologue from Heiner Mueller’s Hamletmaschine. At the time, I believe what we were doing was called ‘deconstruction’. We were taking something apart as a way to remove its power and place that power somewhere else.
Personally, life was already just a series of disconnected islands of events, so it was natural for me to pull moments out and just work with the parts, as opposed to a whole.
I began to make whole plays out of parts that I would line up in different ways.
By highlighting the brilliance inherent each part of a story elements, how it is constructed and how the pieces can fit together, I was hoping to find my own story, a story that would make sense of what I had experienced in my life so far.