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Credits: Annika Tudeer. Michigan Theater Detroit 2019.

In the middle of the night

“What are you verdrängen, Annika”, asks Alice in one scene that never made it to the performance. She continued explaining the shaming mechanism through the event of a cheese stick at a birthday party, where everyone laughed at the fictional little me including the mum of the birthday kid. This unsettling event led in turn to the fictional conviction, much later, that everyone laughed at me in bars, in cafées, wherever the I appeared. You know the fantasy, where YOU are in the middle of everyone’s attention and one day YOU will be found as the worthless creature you really are.

When working with a new performance there are always several scenes that are ”verdrängt” (displaced, repressed, thrown out) or left out as we proceed in the work. Scenes that merge with other scenes, scenes that transform into something new, scenes that are merely about the idea of an atmosphere or something else but never become a fully formed strong scene. These scenes are simply left out because they do not fit in, in the end. 

Like the story of the cleansing ritual that involves me naked strewn with ashes lying down on the mother’s white couch, the parade of angry ghosts and ghosts of former tyrants, the schlager version of ”Take me home country road”  sung walking on the knees evoking images of poverty and abuse in the hinterlands of America, and much more. 

Sometimes the impulses came from outside the realm of the performers. Yiran asked us not to use existing songs, so we wrote our own instead. Anna-Maija whose maternity leave is starting these days, moved from the ”inside” to the ”outside” of the stage, following the rehearsals and working out the dramaturgy, and the scenes with us who were to perform. This displacement has only been for the good. For the first time for the group work, we have had an outside dramaturgical eye watching all the rehearsals. It took a while to get used to it, but wau what a luxury, what a joy. 

In general, the verdrängung process is hard at work in the microcosmos that the creation of a performance is. In the process of Verdrängen Verdrängen Verdrängen perhaps more than usual. More scenes than usually hava been discarded and added to the compost heap from where performances grow. This is a very benevolent and organic verdrängung process, a process where the material that was left out is growing into something new. I am pretty sure that it will not return and haunt us asking: why was I left out, why was I not good enough? Because we can always say: you are there, you just look different and even if you have not been transformed at all and feel that you are a cast off and left hanging, you will return one day in another performance, when it is your time to appear and be transformed.