[notes from one of our polish collaborators, marcin cecko]
We were invited to stage two short pieces by Erik Ehn from Soulographie cycle: Every Man Jack of You and Forgiveness. They both hold a special place, Every Man… opens the cycle, and Forgiveness closes it. An overture and a coda.
Knowing the central problems that Soulographie draws to spotlight, which are acts of genocide, these two plays may seem surprising. Both are intimate and existential, and don’t cover almost any political issue that one may connect to main topic. Although there are few means that show us a larger context, we are forced to deal with mediocre individuals, their big/small problems, their singular choices, their wounds and bruises, their pieces of memory. Their imagination. Because it is an imagination that becomes poisoned (Every Man), and imagination that needs to be salvaged (Forgiveness).
In the first piece, Jack, a salesman, leaves his wife Clair and rides away looking for a drinking-bout and gambling. Once he enters the casino, he finds himself isolated from surrounding world, unable to communicate with his wife and probably without a free will anymore (what’s significant his story is mostly narrated by women he met). Sent by himself on a five year long exile in a motel room, he fails to construct anything helpful and merges into an image that devours him. An image of a Bosnian girl in a grove of trees. He watches as she prepares to hang herself, and finally accompanies her in an act of self suffocation.
Forgiveness throws us into dreadful scenery that reminds more of a graveyard than Jack’s and Shirley’s house. The couple is in state of decay re-experiencing the death of their offspring under wheels of a truck. Here it is less about the story, it’s more about heavy atmosphere filled with the voices of the dead. “[…] If we negotiate a bad domestic peace for the sake of inert deadlock (where authentic expression is repressed, where growth is shut down), how do we move forward in the struggle for historical and cultural reconciliation?” asks the author in a short description of the play, as do countless souls that inhabit the abstract space that surrounds Jack and Shirley…