Camille Intson is an emerging multidisciplinary artist working in theatre, performance art, multimedia, and music across Southern Ontario. Western’s current student-writer in residence, a theatre artist in residence at TAP: Center for Creativity, and this summer’s Theatre Ontario Youth Scholarship recipient, Camille has written, produced, and directed for the stage through festivals in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Newmarket, Toronto, and London, and earlier this year won the Lillian Kroll Prize in Creative Writing at Western, where she’s currently completing an undergraduate degree, and cultivating a growing academic and practical interest in post-humanism and digital performance art.
Language is on trial again.
Three witnesses come to the stand:
A lawyer, a grade school teacher, and a poet.
The lawyer begins:
“I saw language at the office the other week,
slinking and slithering its way around the fingers of truth as if it had any right.
I senses the absence of its meaning and, to be brutal,
I looked language straight in the face and yet still could not see it.”
The lawyer takes his place on the bench and sips away at his coal black coffee.
Next comes the grade school teacher:
“Language is hurting our children! It’s bleeding to death on the open street!
How can we trust our youth with such a thing if that thing doesn’t know how to control itself?!
It’s destroying, it’s convulsing —
What are we supposed to do with all of this violence?!”
The grade school teacher becomes hysterical. She is escorted from the courtroom.
And finally, the poet:
“I can’t speak for the others, but language isn’t doing anything for me anymore.
It doesn’t know where it’s headed — I’m afraid it’s lost control.”
(The poet breaks down sobbing —)
“I’m sorry. I’m trying my best.”
The jury sits there, hands in their pockets,
Chins buried in the creases of their fabrics.
The judge is stoic, resigned.
He fiddles with the stones in his socks.
He contemplates sentence.
We begin in absolute silence and darkness.
This is the kind of darkness that makes something sound like nothing.
In a space like this, time can only pass slowly and with caution.
It seems for a moment that this darkness is absolute, impenetrable.
We are surrounded.
From this silence comes static.
Sensitive, sensual static.
Static that separates darkness from light, silence from sound.
This space is at once a convergence of senses at the limits of darkness, of silence.
It starts in a low frequency.
Some muffled noises.
Space that, now, gasps for light.
And three partial bodies, engulfed.
It’s me again.
Are you there?
You didn’t pick up.
I got kind of worried.
I’m sorry I can’t —
We’re breaking up.
I mean not that we —
Is anyone there?
Not that you have to —
I’m right here.
Are you there?
Please pick up.
A dial tone.
Projection: fragmented flashes of cityscape.
Splintered bodies and buildings.
Construction, chattering, feet shuffling, automobiles.
Lights up on MAN and WOMAN.
WOMAN I am a stranger to greyness.
I grew up on a farm outside of Caledonia.
Green is in my blood.
But he knows this greyness intimately, knows every flailing light and rubber wheel, every drill churning flesh to steel, each crane and corner, an electric cacophony of here and now welding life with life, body into body.
MAN She is a stranger to greyness.
But I know it intimately, for here is the deadening sushi joint on Locke, and here is the coffee shop where the bearded man wails for nickels, and this is the grid which takes us from King to Main, back down to Queen and then out to Highbury, a convergence of line with line, square with square.
WOMAN Here is the man in the red hat smoking. Here are the cranes, hovering high above the progressive rubble, desire unhinged, and here is my body, a cyclone of shapes, and here I am, caught up in the debris.
MAN This is how things are in our city.
WOMAN Green is in my blood.
MAN And here is the three-legged dog.
WOMAN Here is the bus stop waning blue.
MAN Here is the crack of life.
WOMAN And here we are.
MAN Her face
WOMAN His touch
MAN Her love
WOMAN Her eyes
MAN His hands
WOMAN On hers
MAN On her
WOMAN All over her
MAN Until one day she loses her sight.
MAN Without warning.
WOMAN In the middle of the kitchen.
MAN So we take her to the doctor.
WOMAN He drives.
MAN They do all the required tests.
WOMAN Her blood work is fine.
MAN Her tests show nothing.
WOMAN There is no doubt she is in perfect health.
MAN Except that she is blind.
WOMAN Without explanation.
MAN Or diagnosis.
WOMAN The doctor said, apply a cold compress.
MAN ties a black compress over WOMAN’s eyes.
MAN The doctor said, get lots of rest, drink lots of water.
WOMAN And here is the ambulance rushing north rushing east —
MAN Her blindness.
WOMAN And steps — out — in front — behind —
MAN The crack
WOMAN The ripple
MAN and we
Projection/sound: a broken cityscape, fragmented bodies and personalities, somewhere, in the distance, wailing.