Wendy, the Giant Vagina (Philoktetes Redux B Two)
These little multi-part posts are difficult to finish. I dont have the BLOG Muses on speed dial the way I do when making well-meaning art on the road to Hell. Im not a player in this regard. Im a bitch . . . or more accurately; I am a big pussy, making this story oh so appropriate. I keep hoping the piece in question will stop sleeping around and catch feelings for me in the way I have for her. As in life, I am not man enough to call her out on her selfish behavior. At least, in this particular masochistic medium, I have something to show for it . . .
Besides, you cant hurt the dead or imprison the damned. Its what they call in the S&M circuit, topping from the bottom.
Back in the Early-mid Nineties . . . I rolled up heavy at the Yard. I was extremely well versed in the avant-tard. Everything I worked on got strong reactions. Several of the plays I directed were popular enough to remount. This is enough to enlarge any young Theater Fags ego. You kinda need it if your gonna try to make a career in a vocation that is generally NOT commercially viable.
And it was with this inflated sense of self that I chose what was to be my final project in my graduate studies . . . PHILOCTETES. Now, I didnt step to this project lightly. I did ass-loads of research, reading every version of the play I could get my hands on. Ultimately, I went with Henier Müller’s adaptation for its cruel ending. For those of you who are in the dark, Müller was an East German bad boy on the experimental scene. All you really need to know, for the purposes of this story, was that he was one erudite motherfucker and I had chosen to direct an English translation of a German adaptation of an ancient Greek tragedy. I told you I was a masochist.
There are many tawdry yet noteworthy facets to the mounting of this production, as it turned out to be Herculean in task . . . there was the sound designer, who was getting a divorce at the time . . . there was the composer, who I threatened to stab in the neck with a pencil . . . there were the actors, who were much happier watching CLASH OF THE TITANS than Pier Paolo Pasolinis MEDEA . . . and then there was me waking up at five in the AM to study Kyudo. (Youre gonna have to Google that one on your own as it is way too esoteric for me to divulge here.) But the most remarkable begins with the set designer, the very talented Pi-te Pan.
Now, Pi-te spoke very little English, which made it difficult to talk about the play, as my Korean is nonexistent. To compensate, he brought in a great many images, some of which were fairly intense . . . for example, he showed me cross-sections of human bodies from medical text books as well as documentation from abattoirs. Im not squeamish in this regard so we got along great. We resolved to make the main feature of the set this giant cave, which was to resemble a large wound. The title-character was bitten by a snake at a shire to Hera. The bite grew infected and would not heal. Apparently, the wound also (I couldnt make this stuff up) smelled very bad.
Deep breath . . . you know where this is going . . .
The set piece more than resembled a giant Vagina; it was an exact replica. It had labia, both minora and majora . . . it had a clitoris, replete with hood . . . but the most shocking aspect, which just screamed Mega-Muff to everyone who laid eyes on the seven-foot Fur Burger, was the texture. It looked and felt like giant slabs of pinkish, milk-fed veal. If it were still around I would submit it to the Bodies Exhibition.
. . . it gets better . . .
The cast named the oversized Orifice, Wendy as in Peter Pans special friend. Was this a tad racist given the similarity between the name of the Lost Boy who never wanted to grow up and that of our hard working set designer? Perhaps. But I was way too stressed out to rein them in. The composer desperately wanted the play to be a music driven piece so all the actors had wireless head-set mics. The performers looked like Madonna back-ups but I was trying to make everyone happy . . . always a losing proposition. Also, as I mentioned, the sound designer was in the middle of getting dumped by his wife. Tech time was not pretty but we got it done and opened the show on time . . . a-hem . . .
OK . . . this is it.
During one special performance, while one of the characters is giving a rather impassioned speech in front of our veritable Meat Cave, the sound designer, who happens to be running the show, decides not to turn off one of the other actors microphones. Unbeknownst to him, the off-stage actor explains the set to some of his buddies backstage, Have you see our set. Its a big pussy! We named it, ‘Wendy.’ No for real. You gotta check it out!!!
His comments came through loud and clear over the speakers above the audience, which contained me that evening, like an incontinent miles away from a lavatory. Looking back, I imagine my reaction was pretty comical. I’ll let you guess unto the bodily harm I inflicted on myself, both in the moment and on the bar room floor afterwards.
Here are some links to a guy who had sex with a Japanese beer can with a fake vagina inside as well as a site where you can hear how Mr. Garrison from South Park pronounces Poontang:
It aint easy being green. ~ ivan of the bellmen