Fourth Anniversary of the Virginia Tech Shootings. This morning, work continues on the VT project collaborating with Dor Atkinson (Director) and Suki O’Kane (Musician – also on Soulographie).
We’re looking to set up a structure (in the writing, in the production, in the style of producing) that creates a memorial space (still and open) vs. narrative (in the sense of moving to closure. This speaks to the seventeen-ness of Soulographie. We want the space to be authentic to our authorship, namely – proxy; from a distance. It’s called What a Stranger May Know. After a few visits to campus it seemed to me that the survivors and survivor community didn’t need interviews and documentation – there is still some woundedness over the media assault and a rush-to-appropriate. Nonetheless, the tragedy is vast in scale – I am caught up/implicated in it as a teacher, a citizen, a human… My relationship is much different from someone who stayed alive in the room by playing dead, much different from the husbands, wives, parents who remember (especially today), but there is a relationship. All the text derives from the public record.
Our plan is to create a play for each of the thirty-two people killed by the gunman, and a set of eight separate plays for the gunman himself. Each of the thirty-two plays contain thirty-two shorter plays; each of these shorter pieces is divided into eight sections (the Traveling Song, the Kuse and the Prayer derive from Noh; the Language section generally relates to their academic discipline and hobbies, there is a moment of silence, and cues for gesture; there is a contemplation of their names; there is an effort to spin images associated with their biographies into a story-in-formation). All the plays are meant to be performed together in a large open area, occasionally synching up for songs or movement sequences. In this way the audience navigates their own experience, as in a garden. So the piece overall is a time-garden, a garden made out of memory.
Below is a play-within-the-play I wrote this morning. I include it here not because it is the most representative, but because it is today’s writing.
Some context: Maxine Turner was in German class when attacked. She was a senior in Chemical Engineering. She studied Tae Kwan Do, she liked to swing dance; also liked Rammstein, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and horror movies – also Monty Python and the Holy Grail; frequently dyed her hair vivid colors. She was co-founder of the local chapter of the Hypatia Society – a support group for women in engineering. She was a member of AOE. She volunteered for several charities (the VT motto – “Ut Prosim” = “that I may serve”). She made a much-loved strawberry sauce for pancakes. Favorite video game, Zelda; one of her favorite words was Awesome. And, and, and…
Take the way the moon, now full, laces knots and loops
A pattern, different arcs
The stars in their moment are sparks
Light makes awesome space
And the clock of terrestrial power
She could dance ballet to a monster movie score
Hypatia, take as many
Steps as you’d like
They’re small, there’s plenty, we’ll make more
Structure of sanity – refuge in sorority. Finished her requirements early so – the arts, Chinese Medicine, German. Hokie stone. “Under intense pressure and temperature, calcium infused with magnesium and water.” Living in the levity and energy of engineering, playing continuously. Came into being about the same time as fish. “Chapultepec and Kingsport dolomite.” The dialogue of chemistry – its clarity, its chanting language. “Pink, red, gray, brown, black.” Collegiate Gothic. Laughter is a set of shadows, set of shocks to the breath. Stone bench. Wait here. Engineer is a scientist; freight train, heavy concepts move, convey. A German metal band.
Gratitude is how this tree is bent, the graceful shape of your life postures us for praise of creation. Engineer
Maxine. Hello Max
You continue to think out loud
Big sister to Beth Fairchild, AOE
“Extraordinarily close to her grandfather, Ted Malinowski; Grand-dan. Once this strong-minded child had a notion in her head, it was not easy to dissuade her.”
“Not sure what I’ll be doing yet. AWESOME.”
What, am I so beautiful that you have no words left?
Vienna Virginia close-knit cul-de-sac contagious love of life
The movies, light architectural for the missing, courtship: mental prayer discovering pattern in mess of it all. Her gift. What we don’t seem to hold, we hold, what we don’t seem to know, we know, we earn/lean into the pattern of presence and keep it in muscle memory, the anticipation and recollection of the dance. Communication between twins, telepathic sorority, because of the congruence in the math of it.
Tae Kwon Do:
Kahm sa hamnida
Once I am open, mind at full moon, I –
You take your chances finding the scattered High school orchestra: red magenta, blue.
Triforce of power is easy, Wisdom a harder stretch.
Peace will come to Hyrule, Link.
Silver arrow against Death Mountain. If only it were so.
Look for the Puppet Zelda look out for –
Ganon turned Midna into an imp.
Turner, the painter, in rendering the paleness and complexity of the sun, would make one by rubbing paint away with turpentine. Rendering light is a matter of taking away.
Osiris, the Holy Grail, say “ni.”
Chemistry pulls at the thread of a sweater, unraveling matter to linear equation leaving us with less defense. Today gets winds. Taped to a window but now that much more like light. Volunteer: Relay for Life, the animal shelter, and the Big Event.
“One Big Day. One Big Thanks;” Ut Prosim.
Talked to her parents practically every day.
Younger brother, Anthony; violin competitions and soccer tournaments.
Awesome strawberry sauce for pancakes.
Church of the Holy Comforter, Vienna.
Pray on the day of the memorial first for courage.
Look, I just don’t know.
You will never know.