||[Mar. 25th, 2007|08:01 pm]
All the characters I have played, that I have truly been for a brief moment or for several months, are my ancestors. They become part of what brought me to this place. In my history, my blood, there lie the memories of Auschwitz concentration camp, of the animalistic strength which kept Fania Fenalon alive, of the rape of Persephone. I came from a woman who felt the hands of a terrifying, unknown god upon her body yet grew to accept her fate, as Queen of the Underworld. Emily Webb of New Hampshire lies in the narrative of becoming me. The tale of her wedding is as familiar as that of my parents. The Country Women’s Association catered for them and did not provide enough plates. Guest had to eat off of saucepan lids. Emily was terrified at the door of the church and it was only the comforting words of her father and husband-to-be which kept her from fleeing. Victoria’s sexual revolution led to my creation. My heritage is in her leaving her manipulative husband. I came from a fox, a cat, a dog, a bear and a bird. Skin and bitten fingernails grew from feathers, fur and claws. I am the product of animalistic fear, fight and lust.
However, I am not these characters. They are my ancestors but are not me. When I relinquish these roles, they become part of the process which created me but a process, a memory, a heritage and not my life. The terror of Persephone belongs to her, my history, and not to me as Fleur. One cannot hold onto all their characters. We must shake them off, bid them a fond farewell and leave their instincts, their urges, their passions and neurosis behind.
Being the fox taught me much. I responded with my body, not my mind. I became more primitive; more truthful. However, being human is responding with our minds, morals and intelligence emotions. The fur was borrowed, just as the protective skin of Victoria, hardened by the misery her husband inflicted upon her, was borrowed and the fluttery, panicked hands and quivering lips where borrowed from Sylvie Moon.
Each characters brought me a step closer to where I am today but to linger as them is t not take the next step. It is to become sick and insular, too caught up in someone else’s life to live your own and return to Self.
I lingered once, as Fania Fenalon, locked in her experience of survival, hunger, weakness, fear and anger for the entire duration of the performance run. I did not step out of her after each night’s show to return to Fleur. That week I spent much time alone, angry when I was disturbed and fearful in the light. I lay for two hours, curled up in the darkness between the floor and the stage, feeling strangely disembodied and weak. Her reality became more real then my own. That week taught me much.
There must be a transition, a moment when the slumbering Self returns, when the body unfurls and becomes human. I do it through breath. The transition is very physical. As the body adjusts, returning to its usual posture and breath, the mind resumes ownership of it and Self takes over. Laughter or self-critic help some people but I prefer the moments when I can simply step aside and, without reflection or embarrassment, make the experience part of my heritage and continue to be Fleur.