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The Play Only Speaks At Night: Franz Fanon's Disobedient Eye

05.18.2023 10:30 AM

Event Summary

Tamara Guhrs and Stacy Hardy discuss the multiple failures in their attempt to stage Franz Fanon's 'The Drowning Eye.' Written in 1949, with its mad blend of surrealist imagery, existentialism, love lyricism and life philosophizing, there is more than a touch of young 20-something angstyness, but the dark undertow of trauma, and lines that are hauntingly prescient for Fanon’ later works, gives it a feeling of fluidity, maybe even timelessness. It is the kind of text you can immediately see in your mind’s eye - yielding imagery, fleeting ideas for experimental staging, musical resonances.

It is thus a text that seems to invite directorial interpretation, that opens an imaginative landscape brimming with “so much potential.” But on the rehearsal floor, it could only be described as resolutely disobedient; a text constantly straining against the bounds of discourse, defying interpretation and representation, rooted in a language-driven reality that gave us something living to hold in our very mouths, while at the same time refusing to be held. A text that's roving disobedient eye, knotted our tongues and festered our throats with its refusal to articulate and be articulated, to reform and be performed, pinned down or tamed.

Research facilitated by the Pulmonographies research project at the Neubauer Collegium.