I must confess, with a certain doze of embarrassment, that it is only now that I've come to realise how significant, in the context of the world around us, the title of the short story about the girl-machine might sound. Some time ago, a month maybe, Marcin Trzęsiok commented on my idea for the work by saying: “What a title!”. I did not understand what he meant, at all. Most probably I thought he must know, as usually, something that I do not, that he notices some depth and some context that are yet inaccessible to me, so just to be safe, I did not respond. The day before yesterday, when the return to the stricter mask-wearing regime was anounced, I suddenly saw the light and I can now also say: really, what a title.
By the way, I am considering to use the Lojban version of the final title. According to the dictionaries that exist, I have two options to choose from: firgai (meaning: covering the face) or ticta’u (more broad word, disguise, camouflage). The first version reflects the straightforwardness of the original title, while the other is more of an interpretation and a suggestion of a deeper meaning. I am not sure yet.
I’m standing at the threshold of the ballroom. After the first canonical (though not very strictly) explosions and rushes, singing entered, following the main motif of the canon, in great rhythmic simplification and wide augmentation. The remnants of the first sentences of the story are uttered. The text becomes shorter and shorter. Good. In a moment, the door will open and the girl will join a noisy, moving crowd. It reminded me of the film entitled Le bal from 1983 (directed by Ettore Scola). It presents the story of the French social transformations, as a ball. There are no dialogues. But what is there in the film is a rank of characteristic, exaggerated tragicomical characters. Maja Kleczewska showed excerpts of this film to chorus members when she was directing Sudden Rain. She wanted to achieve a similar effect, of a mass of dancers that thickens and thins, alternating; offering the viewers the possibility of noticing individual comical or tragic micro-stories. Here someone stepped on someone else's foot, there someone gives someone else a passionate kiss, here someone drank themselves blind and fell asleep, there people raise toasts. And against that background, the main story takes place. Maja is the arch master of controlling chaos – both in the background and in the foreground. She can play the naturalness (with chaos being its integral part), she can make the impression that the actors do not play but take part in a story that is actually taking place. She creates the impression that nobody is faking anything, but at the same time – the sense of certain ineptitude. And yet she does not lose control, even for a moment. The viewers watch it with a shadow of a sense of impropriety, with the feeling of not being entitled to do so, with the excitement of a peeping Tom. The viewers get caught up in the story, but they do not feel quite so comfortable with it. By looking, the viewers lose innocence. You can get a similar impression when you watch films by John Cassavetes. And, by the way, one of Maja's recent productions is Under pressure on the basis of A Woman Under the Influence by Cassavetes. A woman that does not fit the generally accepted norms and rituals, and her ever deeper conflict with a group of honest but somewhat rude and brutal men around her, led by her husband who is torn between marital love and loyalty and the convention of male friendship and solidarity. And between all this, the kids. The inconspicuous witnesses of heart-breaking scenes, learning the world through them. In a moment, they will become the main characters themselves. Eternal drama. The film original – a masterpiece. The theatrical version – just as fantastic. The only thing that is bothering me a little about Under pressure, and it was also the case with Sudden Rain, is a certain over-interpretation of the reasons for this failure to fit into the convention (in Under pressure, of the main character, in Sudden Rain – of the Husband). In Maja’s works, there always seems to be a more or less clear suggestion of a mental breakdown, with symptoms directly taken from the ICD-10 classification. I do not know if this is necessary. Perhaps it is. But only assuming that we all fit in that classification somewhere. Anyways, this is great art.
The girl-machine will ask herself a question about her mental condition in just a moment. For now, she just woke up. She can hear the noise from behind the door, but she does not open it yet. She keeps her eyes closed. She can feel the “influx of gender”. In a moment, she will smile and move forward, to the sound of the dresses swooshing. Poor thing.
(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)