Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Watching - Prologue and Scene 1

Observations of a psychotic mind
- there and back again


Stage directions: Cyc only so that we see shapes of people. As the chorus sit the only light will be a spotlight on Saul. Breaking the word ‘watching’ up before people start to gather on stage. Overlapping syllables and sounds (w, wa, t, ch, ing, chi, ng, etc) The cast appear and sit as if watching a performance or film, facing the audience. It is then that the word ‘Watching’ emerges out of the sounds made. Long silence. Once established our protagonist begins with their opening speech. They have been a part of the mimes.

Saul: I was like you once; sitting in the audience watching. Watching. Just sitting in the audience watching.  Watching. Doing nothing but watching. I didn’t think it could happen to me because I was just sitting in the audience.  I was merrily going about my normal life, sometimes struggling with getting work and paying bills, sometimes not; sometimes in love, sometimes not; sometimes pursuing a hobby, sometimes not – I liked sport, writing, going to gigs and films – sometimes going on holiday, sometimes not; sometimes partying, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes busy, sometimes lazy. Everything was sometimes. Everything was average and therefore in normal proportions and then... then...

Stage directions: the chorus pace and mime activities of interest, including cooking, fashion, books, sports etc. The word spoken by the chorus is the word ‘interesting’ which overlaps in a myriad of connotations and intonations, from curious to delighted. Up lights brighten so we can see shadows of the chorus on the cyc to give the illusion of more people being on the stage. Saul stands and paces among the others.

Saul: (Stands and paces among the chorus) Funny how one thing, just one thing can change everything, even when that one thing is normal and therefore an average occurrence. And in my case that one thing was something that no one is exempt from. In fact it can be expected, should be expected to happen to every single one of us. But I was unprepared. Most of all I was unprepared for how everyone I knew reacted when that one thing happen and that... that, yes... it was that. That is what was made all the difference.

Scene One

Stage directions: The word spoken by the chorus is the word ‘interesting’ which overlaps. The chorus return for a repeat of ‘interesting’ but this time they chatter until one person announces above the rest to another that their “husband has died”, upon which everyone stops to look at who has spoken and whispers in a hiss aking to how we imagine a snake might say...

Chorus: Interested.

Stage directions: Amber spotted DSR area, up lights are faded to a low level. Immediately everyone fusses including Saul who is turned to a lot by everyone. A mix of dialogue and mime. All the logistics of sorting the funeral, offers of support, a dropping of a deluge of sympathy cards and bouquets of flowers from above; phones ringing, and a succession of knocks on the door with people visiting to chat and food being brought and encouragement of getting out and about, and shoulders to cry on etc. Phones ringing and voices saying “So sorry to hear about ... he was a good man... how are you doing... I’m here if you need anything... I remember when he...if there’s anything I can do you know where I am... etc” individuals guide the bereaved woman to see a vicar, to pick out flowers, to a coffin, to help sort through clothes, papers and the deceased’s effects. Reading of the will, the funeral. All short tableaus. And after the funeral simple tableaus of continued support ending in smiles and laughter. Near the end of this our protagonist Saul announces the death of their father. The ‘interesting’ mime resumes but quieter. By sharp contrast there is nothing by way of response for Saul - people are only interested in their normal activities. Saul listens out for phone calls picks up his mobile phone to see there are no messages. Saul receives a deluge of red reminders, flyers etc, no sympathy cards. General lighting as people wonder about their daily business as usual Saul tries repeating to individuals that their Dad has died to which they get, “Oh, really sorry” and “you ok” but it is never followed up with anything more and people move on. Saul stands in the same position for a delivery of cards and flowers but none arrive. He visit a coffin on his own. He wonders about looking lost and forlorn but no one notices. After this, comments such as “What are you doing for Xmas – spending it with your Dad?” from people already notified are met with “No, he’s dead” “Oh sorry mate” and still no one registers his plight. Successive tableaus to develop the idea of isolation, lack of response and passage of time, Saul getting progressively withdrawn. A year passes as indicated by a ripping off of calendar pages in chunks and punctuated by comments amid a repeat of the word interesting.

Chorus: Hi mate, not seen Saul about recently have you? Wanted to borrow a book off him.

Chorus: Must be busy with work.

Chorus: I think his dad died, I expect he wants to be on his own for a bit.

Chorus: Oh right. (‘interesting’ mime, then laughter)

Chorus: Yeah do remember that gig... who was it that shoved Rick in the boot of the car to get him in?

Chorus: That was Saul.

Chorus: Yeah that’s right. What’s happened to him lately? Haven’t seen him in an age?

Chorus: I wanted him to help me fix my car, but he didn't even reply to my text.

Chorus: Yeah I know what you mean. He’s been odd. I wanted him to help me organise my party and got the same.

Chorus: Not responded to my email to help me with my application. Really pissed off with him on that, I helped him.

Chorus: He’s changed, just disappeared.

Chorus: We’re obviously not good enough for him anymore.

Chorus: Fuck ‘im, I say. He always was a bit up his own arse.

Chorus: I popped round; his car was there but no one in. Place looks a mess... too depressing for me.

Chorus: I reckon he’s flipped. Can’t be doing with that. Got enough on as it is.

Chorus: Same here.

Chorus: Going to the gig on Saturday? Stacy’s gonna be there.

Chorus: Damn right. You?

Stage directions: up lighting at medium level.‘Interesting’ is spoken in unison once. The chorus walk about the stage as they mime getting on with their lives, now totally oblivious to Saul who watches. Vocal sounds of wind and waves. This time we see Saul watching in a foetal pose from on top of an extraordinarily high over-sized kitchen stool. Lights fade up on Saul once he’s in position spot USR.

Saul: You think I want to do cartwheels and throw parties you self-centred little fucks? My Dad’s died! He’s dead, you understand? Football? Gigs? What do they matter to me now? Work? Girls? It’s all pointless, meaningless crap. My Dad’s DEAD! What I want to know is what are you going to do about it? You’re supposed to be my mates and where are you? You’re supposed to help me once in a blue fucking moon. What you doing? Where are you? Why are you pretending nothing’s happened? The sky’s fallen in fuck you! You should have stopped it. I should have stopped it. I should have been there. I... should. Dad! Dad! You can’t have gone. Where are you? Dad?  (Gasping, choking) DAAAAAAAAAAD!

Stage directions: The chorus fades and moves off. Up lights fade to leave spot on Saul before slowly fading out completely to total blackout.

PLEASE NOTE: Currently in the UK no mental health professional ever wears white coats and seldom wear uniforms of any kind unless they are nursing staff. CPN is the abbreviation for Community Psychiatric Nurse and they do not wear uniforms. Sectioning in other countries is the term that used to known as committed i.e. placed in hospital by decree from a medical team. 

In the UK it takes a committee of medical staff trained in mental health to agree that you are too ill to be left to cope on your own and it is very common for a member of public not related to you to ensure that medical staff are not in breach of the law. 

All people in the UK can appeal against being placed in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

By kind permission of Mel Dixon, the Mindwalking team is proud to publish a joint venture in the form of a play. Copyright and performance rights remains with Mel Dixon who we would like to thank for writing this piece with us and for all of us. 

We hope this will enable every to understand what both isolation and loss can lead to if people are left unsupported. No one should suffer alone, but sadly all too many still do.

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