Happening 2019: The Writing Apparatus

Photo & text: Mari Pitkänen

On the back wall, slightly to the stage right, paper taped to the wall. Roll is continuing down the floor. Writer walks from stage left, stops by the paper and begins to write. Sound of the marker on the paper. Every now and then, pause. Writer looking at the paper. Then continues writing until s/ he reaches the end of the roll.

As part of Schouskollektivet’s project Variations of Beckett, Mari Pitkänen has begun to research language’s relation to nervous system. This study has lead to examine durational writing as a bo- dily practice, that can function as a immersive method enabling imagined places and times, that show themselves in dream-like shape, to form.

Having been working as actor in Beckett’s Footfalls, in Norwegian Theatre Academy in 2017 together with Phillip Zarrilli, I have noticed how working in repetitions in Beckett play has impacted my body. By practicing Footfalls almost like a meditation, there has been created a poetic meditative non-place in my body, where certain rhythms and words repetitively come up. In that non-place overlaps, uncertainties and confusions of time, people and places occur. It is a dream like space, where I can write things that I cannot write otherwise. In Footfalls, there is May, a woman who ever so hunching down and holding her arms while walking nine steps back and forth throughout the play. There is also a voice, Mother, who May talks with. Both of the figures in the play are somewhat faint and ghostly. At one point May’s name turns to Amy — A me who is talking to her M-other — as we can see, Beckett is playing with overlapping these two figures even in their naming.

When diving into writing practice, that takes long duration, an hour the least, the rhythms of the nine steps and the melodies of the words in Footfalls resonate. They have not left my body as a performer, but they still offer me space to sit back and start to listen the illogical, quiet sounds in my body. That space works like a bridge, vagus-nerve that connects thoughts to body. Voices of subconscious, voices of dreams and stories that are with us, but most of the time left without notice. This space for writing is, where I can be both many and in many places at the same time — a space for body and space for freedom. In this time it is possible to point at things that have left us bothered, point at things that trouble us, but we didn’t pay attention to those ”grey matter” troubles before.

In the our Beckett “Happening”, taking place on 9th November, I will be attending to create space for Writing Apparatus, where I both write and share space for the public to take part to the writing. As a starting point, there will be texts around, which have been produced through this method earlier on. Equipment (paper, pens) for handwriting process will be available, put up in performative way. There is a performative focus on the spot, but there will be no ”in and out” from the Apparatus/ performance. We will create a composition of silences with our pens, and the continuum of writing will be documented.

The handwritten material is then taken to old type writer, where small fragments are typed to white A4 papers. These fragments can be cut from their context with scissors and re-organized together with another context. This is a concrete editing phase, where it is possible to enmesh material from different writers, and create ”exit routes” in case the flow of the text have come to an dead end.

When material is re-written and scissor-tape-edited, it will be sent by post to some of the writers who have left their addresses to me. They are asked to rewrite the text again, edit it as they like, and send them back to me by land post. After that I will do the finalizing re-writing/editing round with my laptop, and publish the texts on this blog.

Photo & text: Mari Pitkänen
Photo: Mari Pitkänen. Letter written by Sophie Barth.