TateShots speaks to Keren Cytter and members of her dance company D.I.E at Tate Modern, November 2009.
History in the Making or the Secret Diaries of Linda Schultz is a new live theatre piece by Israeli artist Keren Cytter, created in collaboration with D.I.E. Now (Dance International Europe), a theatre group recently formed by Cytter.
John Webber, a political activist, and Linda Schultz, a graphic designer, awake one morning to discover they have each been subject to an unexpected and radical sex change. The repercussions of this event have a domino effect on society, sexual politics, and personal identity, ultimately leading to revolution, as Cytter playfully tells the story via film, language, imagery, choreography, performance and light projections.
History in the Making takes inspiration from a diverse range of influences, including Pina Bausch, Bat-Sheva dance group, Samuel Beckett, 'Disney on Ice', Michael Jackson, Yvonne Rainer, and the exotic rhythms of the 1980s dance-floor filler the Lambada, creating a highly stylized theatrical performance, addressing the ideas with insight and humour.
This piece is called The Secret Diaries of Linda Schultz, and it started as a group show that was travelling the was travelling. ‘If I can dance I don’t want to be part of the revolution’. It’s a Dutch foundation initiated, and they invited me to make a performance. We are called DIE Now – Dance International Europe Now.
Extract of play:
"It all started a year ago. I transformed into a woman. Before I died, I looked like the dancer behind me. The night I transformed into a woman, I fell in love with a woman. She was simple and she was not."
Extract of play:
Blood, smoke, no tears. I don’t cry. My hands are tight. Can I get some green tea, please?
Forget the please. Just green tea.
You look… good.
The play is about John Webber and Linda Schultz. It is two people who met only one time. The next morning they wake up and they discover that their gender has changed from female to male. All the world has changed its gender.
Hi. I just wanted to say hi to all our supporters. We’re missing only one day to the great revolution. So come and please join us.
My name is John Webber, and I think I’m a wannabe liberal activist. I’m confused for being the person that starts the revolution which is men turning into women and women turning into men.
Extract from play:
Man and woman together: Oh God!
Can we start again? It’s not my best day.
Why, who are you?
Well, who are you?
I asked first.
Well, I asked second.
I will hang up.
It’s Linda. Hello?
Oh, shit. God. Yes?
Linda, it’s me. It’s Sylvia.
Man’s voice reporting:
Can a psychiatrist distinguish between madness and sanity? A man called David Rosenheim devised a dramatic experiment. He assembled eight people, including himself, none of whom ever had psychiatric problems.
Keren’s work is in general super-layered, and there’s a lot of things that are about fiction and reality that fuse in a very interesting way. We have these daily life moves that we keep doing all the time, and it’s this kind of banality that once you sort of take them out of there and bring it into another context, it just becomes, like, super hilarious.
Peep! To make like a ‘peep!’ – I think it’s very funny, and it’s something I see every day because I love the supermarket. Peep!
Peep. Peep. Peep.
…challenge them to send some more day patients, guarantee they will spot them this time. Rosenheim agreed, and after a month, the hospital proudly announced they had discovered 41 fakes. Rosenheim then revealed he had sent no-one to the hospital.
November 2008. Dear Diary, I told you a few days ago that you are here for my secrets, so here is a secret that everyone knows. My heart was the truth, and my feelings were secrets, but my body has changed in one night.
There is the silent revolution that is just happening. People wake up and they are suddenly transformed into the other gender, and then there is a second violent revolution that is just about everybody fighting for the best jobs. The new men who used to be women are now in a position of power, and don’t allow anything out of the system to happen anymore.
It’s a wild mixture, you know, it’s like when I first read the play and met with Keren and the other performers, it felt a bit like the Wizard of Oz meets the West Side Story meets Sartre.
Extract from play:
Do you want to work in the supermarket for the rest of your life, or do you want to be a graphic designer? Yes? Or no?
Well then, this is your chance.
It talks about change, you know, that change is good and important a lot of the time, but also it can be dangerous. I guess my character is an example for that, you know, someone who is sad and depressed, and who gets a chance, and then, you know, uses it to fulfil her own, his own ego trip or whatever.
Extract from play:
Do that with the right amount of acting. The rest of the characters will move to the sides and clear its way to the top of the pyramid, where he always wanted to be.
What are you doing? I’m every woman.
Shit. Me too.
Everybody likes revolution because it’s like an idea of a change, but [inaudible 00:06:10] they don’t really believe in revolutions, they are like everything is a bit of a lie.