from A CERTAIN QUANTITY OF ACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS
plays for the mental theater
Editor’s Note: This is the second part in a weekly series of texts from a new work by Kristen Kosmas. Check back on Wednesday, Aug 14, for Part 3.
Read Part 1 here
Read Part 3 here
Read Part 4 here
Read Part 5 here
#4. A CERTAIN DESCRIPTION OF FEAR. OR: WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE HUMAN IN CERTAIN MOMENTS.
The actor imagines a puncturing
a small puncture
in the skin
A pinprick in the fingertip or somesuch
(It may wince, the actor
It may not)
The actor imagines a scene
it has heard described
from a movie: a razorblade
slicing across an eyeball
(“Or was it the moon?” it wonders, “Was it the moon or an eye? Was it a movie?
Was there a razorblade?”)
The actor imagines falling out a window
& being impaled
on a fencepost
The actor imagines being
The actor imagines being small enough
to be caught in a mousetrap
The actor imagines being caught in a mousetrap
(Perhaps the legs twitch here, perhaps not)
The actor imagines not being
The actor imagines not being able
The actor imagines not being able to spell the word “balloon”
in a spelling contest, aired
on a kind of futuristic
which is broadcast by satellite & no one even has to turn it on!
It just appears
In the mind
The actor leaves out one of the ells
in the word balloon the actor
imagines the failure the actor
imagines the awfulness
of futuristic, global, psychic
The actor imagines
being trapped under something in water
not being able to get its head out
from under water
The actor remembers
it did nearly drown once
The actor imagines everyone it loves
The actor imagines everyone it loves genuinely
The actor imagines everyone it loves genuinely
leaving forever, in various ways
Some with suitcases, some with clenched fists, some with raised voices,
some in pine boxes
The actor imagines a Chinese
delivery boy riding up behind it on a bicycle making a terrible racket
A terrific squeaking and screeching, it imagines a maniacal
Chinese delivery boy harming it with knives
(Wheels screeching sounds sound like blades crisscrossing sounds)
The actor imagines the delivery boy laughing, the delivery boy does not
kill the actor in its imagination, he only does
irreparable damage, permanent damage
The actor imagines permanent damage
of all kinds
to all kinds of things and persons, ideas and geographies
The actor imagines not having any legs
The actor imagines the life force leaking out
being sucked out through a small point on the chest somewhere near the heart
The actor imagines this with the body, not the mind
(This may inspire a rising, or bowing out, of the chest)
The actor imagines not being able to find the words
The actor thinks about its pajamas
The actor thinks about its soft parts, its vulnerable
parts under its pajamas and wishes it had
a permanent shell, permanent shells
(The actor’s hand may subconsciously
gravitate toward & fall
near or around its soft parts, near or around its vulnerable parts
But only SUBCONSCIOUSLY!
The actor’s hand may only subconsciously
gravitate toward & fall. Otherwise
the actor is in the wrong kind of play, is doing
the wrong kind of play.)
The actor imagines getting stuck
Getting stuck like a machine
Getting stuck like a machine in a certain
The actor imagines getting stuck like a machine in a certain rhythm of petting
Of petting another
The actor imagines petting the other creature
raw, not being able to stop because
the petting is inspired by— is an act of— is inspired by— is an act of—
is inspired by— is an act of— love.
The actor imagines forgiveness
The actor imagines plastic.
The many horrors of plastic.
The actor imagines the pinprick again
in the fingertip
The pinprick gets bigger and bigger
The hole at first swallows the whole
Then the arm
Then the self
Part by part
Then the chair the actor sits on
Then the room it sits in
Including the audience
The entire block
As far out as it can imagine
hole swallows the whole
The actor imagines the life force, which was previously sucked out
going out now to the very edges of the universe
And gathering all that was once within it (the universe)
and collecting it in a kind of imperial sweep
Completely disintegrating and annihilating it, without design, desire, or purpose
Then, the life-force returns to the actor on its monstrous path
bringing all along, but now all as nothingness, all as momentum
To clarify: The life force
goes out, gathers everything, destroys it (almost as if by accident), comes back
into the actor and then! Goes on until it (everything)
disappears into a pin-prick in the very center of the actor’s person—
the soft spot under the breast-bone/rib-cage—
The universe, dragged back there by the life-force, disappears into the actor
disappears into the actor & brings the actor with it
The actor disappears
To clarify: The actor
imagines infinite expansion
and then infinite retraction
out of & then back into the self
This ultimate expansion slash retraction (which destroys everything and returns it
to nothingness taking the actor and audience with it)
is difficult to describe, but easy to imagine
really super scary and weird
For the actor
To clarify: The universe
& then inhales
And then nothing ever happens
Or so the actor imagines
The actor has been sitting in a chair this whole time. There has been a blanket on its lap, which the actor now slowly lifts to expose at first the feet, then the ankles, then the shins, then the knees, then the thighs. When I say slowly, I mean: SLOWLY.
At this point, the legs of the actor open. The whites of the thighs are revealed as well as the white fabric of its underclothes.
On this whiteness is projected a film.
The film is one of nature. Things happening in nature.
The film plays for a time. We hear the mechanism
of the film projector.
Finally, the actor speaks.
I wish my arms were longer.
So I could reach all of you.
So I could touch all of you.
KRISTEN KOSMAS is an American playwright and performer. She has had new works commissioned by The Chocolate Factory (NYC), Performance Space 122 (NYC), The Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf (NYC), Seattle University’s SITE Specific, Dixon Place (NYC), and the New City Theater in Seattle. Her plays (see links below) and solo performances have been presented in Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Austin, and many downtown venues in New York City. She is the writer/performer of four critically acclaimed solo shows: Blah Blah Fuckin Blah, Again, Slip, and The Scandal! As an actor, she has appeared in many notable new plays including Potatoes of August by Sibyl Kempson, Mark Smith by Kate Ryan, ASTRS and Some Things Cease To Be While Others Still Are by Karinne Keithley, The Internationalist by Anne Washburn, Producers of Fiction by Jim Strahs, The Florida Project by Tory Vazquez, and Hurricane by Erin Cressida Wilson. Ms. Kosmas is a founding member of the OBIE Award winning performance series Little Theater; the Brooklyn-based experimental writer’s collective The Ladies’ Auxiliary Playwriting Team/Machiqq; and The Twenty-Five Cent Opera of San Francisco, a monthly event for the enactment of texts and theatricals. She holds a BFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College. She is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Whitman College and a member of New Dramatists in NYC.
Read more work by Kristen Kosmas:
Buy Hello Failure from Ugly Duckling Presse.
Buy This From Cloudland from PLAY A Journal of Plays
Buy Anthem and The Mayor of Baltimore from 53rd State Press.
A rave review of There There in The New York Times