When You Show Your Strings

If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.

1. “A small big space for experiments.” 2. Photo of my non-functioning photo-taker (dead battery not-pictured).

All of New York was hung-over two nights ago, but that didn’t stop a room from filling the Ars Nova Theatre for Samantha Chanse. The show, titled “About that Whole Dying Thing”, was written and performed by Chanse as monologue. Her characters included herself… but “her — selfincluded three to four seen and unseen personas ranging from a spoken-word poet, a transgendered Chinese artist, and a drameter (more on this later). Before you get out your beret and talk about the nature of the human condition, take some advice from two of the show’s patrons, married couple Julia and Adam.

“Sam is really keen. She’s a great performer and satirical, she’s really funny,” noted Julia. When asked how funny, using the measure of LOLs, Adam remarked “there has definitely been some LOLs in the past.”

So, as I sat in my high-top stool, admiring McClure’s pickles at the bar and the disco ball hanging from the ceiling (always a sign I’m a good space) I prepared myself (with relief) for some laughs to come.

1. Sam! (Writer and performer; blurry because the photo was taken with a phone.) 2. Adam and Julia! (happily married)

The crux of the performance centered on the drameter, a job defined loosely as someone who steps within and outside of the play’s structure to articulate and comment on the performance. As was stated, “We call this meta,” which elicited laughs from the crowd. It was a relief to sit back and watch a show performed about the conversations that go on in any writer’s mind. You’re at once a dreamer, drunk with ideas, an egoist who wants to create “literature,” and then human, filled with failures and second-guessing.

And sometimes you’re just drunk.

The comfort I settled in with — “Oh, this is a smart-commentary play to which I am allowed to laugh” — pivoted sharply with the closing line and lights. The dramatic whiplash unfolded the entire play upon itself with six-words that took an entire play to get to. If that isn’t the purpose of language-based art, I don’t know what is.

Play — (word)Cloud: “Failure, fractals, flickering”

ArsNova — Cloud: “Reggie Watts, pickle, cardboard”

Sam — Cloud: “Ginger-martini, strings, song-writer”

***

— Craig Moreau, author of Chelsea Boy, has just finished a book tour and is currently drinking a beer. He is interested in identity, democracy, and word-clouds.

More Like This

I Just Want to Hang Out in the Wardrobe

The older I get, the more I want to linger in the in-between place before the magic starts

Jan 22 - Amber Sparks

19 Books Coming to TV and Film in 2021

From "Macbeth" to "Where the Crawdads Sing," here are the adaptations to look forward to this year

Jan 22 - Christopher Louis Romaguera

Witchcraft, Hysterical Teenagers, and Heart Fetishists

Mariana Enriquez's "The Dangers of Smoking in Bed" features sociopolitical horror stories set in modern-day Argentina

Jan 21 - JR Ramakrishnan
Thank You!