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"To describe a mise en scène by verbal or graphic means is like trying to make a drawing of a certain kind of pain" —Antonin Artaud

Herzstück by Heiner Müller

One     May I put my heart at your feet
Two     So long as you don't
            soil my floor

One     My heart is pure
Two     We'll see to that

One     I can't get it out
Two     You'd like me to help you

One     If you don't mind
Two     It's my pleasure
            I too can't get it out

One     [Cries]
Two      I take it out by surgery
            What do I have a penknife for
            We'll get this in a minute
            To work and not despair
            Well, it's done
            But this is a brick
            Your heart is a brick

One     But it beats only for you

32 actors. Sitting in a gallery. In pairs, sitting in chairs, one facing the other. Thus, 16 pairs, arranged in a 4 X 4 grid. The Blind Director sits in a wheelchair, naked from the waist down. The audience is on the periphery, drinking white wine and mineral water, nibbling hors d'oeuvres.

The performers are all trained actors based in the greater Los Angeles area. This is necessary not because the execution of the text requires particular acting skills, but because of the emotional distance any trained actor brings to the performance of a text. Some of the actors are currently romantically involved, some formerly, others (knowing actors) will subsequently become involved. The audience is aware of this because they are reading this description in the program they are given.

At seven pm the actors begin speaking the text. A quiet synchronized murmuring.
The mute & blinded Director has a bell, a whistle (attached to the gag), and a buzzer.

*    When the bell rings, the actors flip roles i.e. the one offering the heart now becomes the one receiving the heart.
*    When the whistle is blown once the actors playing #1 all move one chair to their right or, if the sound issues twice, two chairs to their right. Or three chairs, or four, depending on the number of times the whistle is blown. If it blown twice in quick succession, the movement is in the other direction.
*    When the buzzer buzzes, each pair of actors, upon finishing the piece of dialogue, falls silent until the sound issues again and they resume.

The frequency and time of the bell and whistle will be established in advance. This is to ensure that each actor will act with every other actor, but they will be unable to predict at exactly what point that will happen, i.e. at what point each actor will encounter the once, present, or future Loved One.

The effect is the creation of emotional paralysis in a vortex of fear. Abraham offers his only son to God but is released from his act of faith. Actor #1 offers her own heart but Actor #2 sees only the brick, not the sacrifice. The modulated repetition (for no actor, in the effort to express his/her "unique individuality," can help him or herself in trying to vary the style of delivery) operates in complete denial of the violence of the text.

The director sits in the center of this event- refusing to relinquish parental authority, but mortified by his paternity of this monstrosity.

The performance concludes at nine pm.




32 variations on a geometric heart