suicide.chat.room – Flashpoint Theater

suicide.chat.room

Taffety Punk Theater Company
Flashpoint Theater, Washington D.C.

Back in 2000, on a bar stool at the Galaxy Hut, when Marc Nelson, now Marcus Kyd, told me that the Most Secret Method was going on hiatus so he could study Shakespeare and pursue acting I was devastated and agitated. Any one who knows me well enough is aware of my violent aversion to Shakespeare and my great love for the Most Secret Method. I got a DUI two days later from that meeting. I do not believe they are unrelated.

Fast Forward to 2007, it’s the summer, Marcus Kyd produces a one act play called The Devil in his own Words. This piece is culled from dozens of texts about the devil. Using literature and religious texts, Kyd created a singular, striking, compelling and dare I say in this Christian climate, sympathetic voice for the fallen angel. Seeing this performance was akin to watching Lungfish play music, or a screening of the film Gas Food Lodging. It stuck with me as the greatest thing I have seen on the stage of actors. Watching this, I knew that despite my own hurt feelings, Kyd had made the right choice. A fine musician, singer and lyricist he may be. But his passion is for the theater. It fuels his life’s blood.

So with the arrival of suicide.chat.room once again Kyd has re-appropriated the text of others. A Shepard Fairy of the theater almost, Kyd takes what we believe we know and feel about something and renders it into a new, more intense image. And this time, he has help from two very talented people, that bring this dark, mysterious world to light.

With everything in this play that is striking and intense, the piece that captures the urgency of the topic begins with the choreography. Designed by Paulina Guerrero, the weaving of these handles nearly accepting and always rejecting each other, displays the longing of the words found from a screen and turns them into wanting voices. Without these movements, so intimate and longing and yet still dismissive and full of agony, we have vacant words pulled from a computer screen. The anonymity of the internet always seems to forget that there is a voice behind that written language. Guerrero’s choreography highlights the humanity.

Along with music by The Beauty Pill, it also visualizes the internet as actual, physical space. The broken soundscapes that accompany the chaotic movements helps to highlight the same anonymity these chat rooms employ. Under this social confidentiality contract, people weave there innermost anguish in full public. These are not closed forums mind you, but the desire to enter them is singular to one type of person, those who have considered, attempted or witnessed suicide. Ultimately, we find that the movement and sound become the internet space, fractured and separated, but no less real or intense. Chad Clark, Beauty Pill’s mastermind, cracks open his masterful song writing, and lets the contents spill into a beautiful chaos.

And so now we face the text. Before seeing this play I was very angry about it. Kyd after all took much of this text from actual suicide chat rooms. These are the true and real words of actual people. And though I trust, and have now witnessed, Kyd’s delicacy with this world, I still feel as though some violation has occurred. But, much like the subjects of this play, I can not articulate this anger. I find there is a fine line between what Kyd did with the texts of religion and literature and what he has done with the words of those who want to end their lives. Having said that, it is a beautiful, necessary and intense piece of art. And until I can articulate this fury (and I hope never to be able to) I support this vision. suicide.chat.room is what art should be, controversial.

From the subject to the pretext of the source, the music, the body movements, it is confrontational and contentious. The audience will not be rendered the same before they enter that black box. Even if you lack the understanding as to what brings people to this point, and I do not believe that is the aim of this piece, you will be supplied with fodder for the brain. No one talks about suicide, no one talks about depression. These ideas are considered abnormal, but suicide.chat.room, in exploring the anonymity of it all shows us, that it is very real and very prevalent. The voices in this play could have come from anyone, anywhere, for any reason. They resonate as the voice of so many among us all. This is where dialog can begin.
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