I am very interested in the parts of a text that are not dialogue: the setting instructions, the stage directions, character descriptions and notes. It has taken me a long time, and a shoving on of both my dramaturgy and design hats to decide what exactly they are for, and I know you are all desperate for my opinion on this crucial topic of our time…
At their worst, stage directions serve to protect legacy, the prescriptive details of Strindberg including a ground-plan for Miss Julie. At their best, they provide another layer in showing you how a play should live off the page. You stand here – not because you must stand but because the stakes and the energy have changed. There are rusty farming tools on the wall because we want you to understand that the countryside can be a dangerous place. The text that sits outside lines to be spoken in And the Rest of me Floats reflects the play itself: a beautiful messy dance of instructions, rule breaking and expectations.
There are no ‘characters’ as such. Performers tell their own stories, wear their own clothes and speak in their own accents.
Reviewing And The Rest of Me Floats feels dangerous close to reviewing people. One of the banned phrases of criticism is anything along the lines of ‘I want to be friends/go to the pub with the cast’. Sod it – I want to fly to Mars and turn it into a queer-disco planet of dreams with the And The Rest of Me Floats’ crew. We’ll hold a never-ending space rave with Emily Joh Miller shredding it on electric guitar and Elijah W Harris getting us all involved in hourly karaoke.
Don’t be afraid to change the order, rewrite the text and break the rules
Any play or performance exists only in the moment in which it happens; tonight’s Waiting for Godot will not be the same as tomorrows, no matter how many rules gatekeepers set. The stories of these seven trans, queer and non-binary artists intersect, blend and cut across each other like a glorious weaving of technicolour threads. How much is autobiographical becomes irrelevant when everything spoken is so true.
Numbers symbolising ages symbolising moments of realisations, of comings out, of losses and gains scatter the pages. It’s reminiscent of the jumble of numbers in Sarah Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis, where being able to recognise a linear timeline is taken as evidence of a stable mind. Here, there is a ‘queering of time’ , a restructuring of the laws of physics to suit shifting stories and identities. Tamir Amar Pettet and Yasmin Zadeh act out an encounter in cyberspace where avatars allow them to be their true selves – to be other. On the internet anything is possible, there are no limitations of what you can be in binary code – in 1s and 0s , so why do we find that so hard to understand in Xs and Ys?
Their walks are exaggerated performances of each other’s gait
They vouge, they strut, they sway, and they stomp.
She accepts and rejects the clothes until she finds the outfit that feels the most powerful for her
A riot of sequins and neon scatter the floor. Performers are caught naked, clad in fur coats and insecurities in the beam of a torch. How do you differ the spotlight from the harsh beam of an interrogation lamp? Look at me, but see me, on my terms.
Bore someone else with your questions
(I’m cheating, that one’s dialogue).
And the Rest of Me Floats is testament as to why self-authorship is important. It’s political and emotional but above all it is defiant, resilient and celebratory. It is Josh-Susan Enright dancing in the middle of the floor at 2 am as the glitter ball spins and spins, transforming Boo Hoo into Balenciaga. Go ask someone else, we do not, and we never should have entertained any debate with you as to our right to exist and take up room on the dance floor. Move bitch, we need space to throw these shapes
Lots of silly string
And the Rest of Me Floats is on at the Bush Theatre till 16th March. More info here.