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B A . , The University of British Columbia, 2002
August 2005
© Heather Arvidson, 2005
This report develops an interpretation of Gertrude Stein's theory that plays could be
landscapes rather than narratives, and describes the project of producing part of
Stein's "A Play Called Not and Now" as a landscape play. Over the course of a twoweek workshop and a final performance on June 2, 2005 at UBC's Telus Studio
Theatre, I directed a team of actors in an adaptation of scenes from the play. Informed
by her theory, this collaborative project provided the opportunity to concretely work
through Stein's idea of what was, in her time, a radically new kind of theatre. The
staging was based on physical theatre exercises inspired loosely by Anne Bogart's
Viewpoints. These provided a method for realizing Stein's sketch of a spatial theatre
in which spectators can remain continuously present to the sounds, sights, lights and
presences that surround them. The ensemble's movement and dynamic relationships
created a physical landscape to fill the basic, elliptical structure of a play that Stein
scripted in "A Play Called Not and Now." In this way, we took up Stein's invitation to
collaboratively animate her script and pose it in relation to a physical composition,
elucidating both text and theory in the process.
Theatrical landscape
The making a play of "A Play Called Not and Now"
Critical territory
A landscape called not and now
Appendix A: Selected scenes from "A Play Called Not and Now"
Appendix B: Performance playbill
Works Cited
I would like to thank my supervisor Adam Frank for his creative support and
collaboration, and my committee members, Patsy Badir, for her encouragement at
crucial moments, and Colleen Lanki, for her introduction to physical theatre
Thanks also to Sid Katz, management and staff at the Chan Centre for providing
performance space at the Telus Studio Theatre, the Dean of Arts for their support,
Vancouver Film School for providing rehearsal space, Vince Arvidson for filming the
performance and Michael Undem for editing and producing the DVD.
Special thanks to the cast, who were amazing to work with: Lindsay Barton, Daniel
Bruce, Jenny Craig, Wendy Dallion, Alex Day, Olivia Delachanal, Kellen Fo, Jenny
Kassen, Siobhan McCormick, Kevin Spenst and Michael Undem.
This project aimed to investigate Gertrude Stein's dramatic theory by putting it on the
stage. Over the course of a two-week workshop and a final performance on June 2,
2005 at UBC's Telus Studio Theatre, I directed an ensemble of actors in an adaptation
of scenes from Stein's "A Play Called Not and Now." Informed by her theory, this
collaborative project provided the opportunity to concretely work through Stein's
idea of what was, in her time, a radically new kind of theatre. This report documents
the work of my master's thesis, comprised of the "Not and Now" workshop,
performance and collaboratively rewritten script (see Appendix A), as well as a speech
given after the show, a colloquia presentation to the department of English, and this
Theatrical landscape
Stein's particular notion of a play came as a response to what she considered the
nervousness of watching traditional, narrative-driven theatre. She felt that "before
the play had commenced it was over and at no time had you been ready" {Lectures in
America 258), since from the moment the curtain rose, you had to keep pace with the
play's story even as you tried to figure out who was who on stage and allow your eye
the pleasure of roaming the scene.
Stein's solution - and legacy - was to eliminate the narrative arc. Although she
is little known as a playwright and scarcely produced, she was nonetheless an
influential figure of American theatre in the twentieth century. Marc Robinson
credits her for founding the alternative American theatre, and Stephen J. Bottoms
considers her the "single biggest influence on [off-off-Broadway's] evolving aesthetic"
of 1960s avant-garde (147). She had spent little time in theatres since childhood, but
wrote nearly eighty plays by the end of her career. What revolutionized American
See also Elinor Fuchs, Marvin Carlson, Kate Davy, Sarah Bay-Cheng and Arnold Aronson.
theatre, however, was not so much her scripts as her conclusion that "anything that
was not a story could be a play" (Lectures
in America
In her dramatic compositions Stein intended "to make a play the essence of
what happened" but "to express this without telling what happened"
261). What would replace the event is an intensity of movement, a
vibrational hum of layered, dynamically shifting verbal and spatial relationships on
stage. Inspired by the French countryside, she thus reconceptualizes plays as
the landscape has its formation and as after all a play has to have
formation and be in relation one thing to the other thing and as the
story is not the thing as any one is always telling something then the
landscape not moving but being always in relation, the trees to the hills
the hills to the fields the trees to each other any piece of it to any sky
and then any detail to any other detail. (Lectures
in America
"The essence of what happened," then, is composed of the relations between
dramatic elements, just as landscape is composed of relations between objects
visually perceived.
The experience of watching a landscape play would be like watching and
listening to a performance in a language one doesn't speak: "a very simple direct and
moving pleasure"
in America
259) that, as Betsy Alayne Ryan explains, is
"either not based on an alternate reality at all (the dance, bullfights) or based on a
story that [i]s so obvious (melodrama) or so foreign (Bernhardt) that it could be
ignored in the face of the physical relationship of actor and audience" (Ryan 46).
Spontaneous, visceral response would eclipse rising action and climax.
Arnold Aronson notes that when "relationships replaced sequentiality" (28) in
Stein's plays, "part of the creative process [shifted] from the artist to the spectator"
(31). Having quit the linear compulsion of narrative time, Stein hoped to keep the
audience continuously present in the spatial experience of being in a theatre. Free to
move in and out of the concrete, physical spectacle, viewers could compose the
landscape according to their particular viewing practices, measuring in their own
time any detail against any other.
The making a play of "A Play Called Not and Now"
The necessary physicality of Stein's landscapes poses particular problems for an
English study based on textual analysis. If even the spectator has her work set out for
her, the reader might well be overwhelmed by the interpretive work required. Too
open and too opaque, Stein's play texts often neglect to attribute speaking parts or
differentiate them from stage directions. Despite a surplus of detail, readers are
required to make preliminary (i.e., writerly) interpretive decisions about such basics
as dialogue, on-stage activity and character. Figuring out what or if a play means
comes second to adapting and committing to a strategy for seeing it: for making
Stein's signature linguistic play somehow physical in the drama of nothing happening.
Indeed, this performance project was inspired by challenged reading. I first
worked on Stein's plays and dramatic theory in an English graduate seminar in the
fall of 2004, taught by Professor Adam Frank. The sort of play Stein was proposing
was exciting to both of us, and since the play texts themselves so evaded literary
analysis, we decided to attempt producing one.
Our first steps in January, 2005 involved a number of consultations. We met
with Professor Patsy Badir from the English department, who shared insights from
The Wood-Carver's
in April, 2000. Kevin Kerr, the co-artistic
director of Vancouver's Electric Company, was writer in residence at Green College
during the winter of 2005, and he offered consultation and contacts in Vancouver's
theatre community. We also met early on with Kirsty Johnston, Gayle Murphy and
Jay Henrickson from the Theatre Department, who all offered valuable perspective.
Although we had hoped to partner to some extent with the Theatre
Department, they were unfortunately too pressed for resources to offer anything
more than encouragement. Finding that resources were extremely limited and the
project much bigger than we had imagined, we changed tactics in March. We have
Professor Jerry Wasserman from Theatre and English to thank for his timely
guidance. At his suggestion, we scaled back the full production to a two-week
workshop that I would direct with a staged reading at the end. This would allow
space to undertake a truly experimental project using some developing notions of
physical theatre, a huge cast and a script with a lot of gaps. From early April until the
show on June 2,1 worked under Adam's supervision to find and audition eleven
actors, rewrite the script with stagings in mind, run the workshop to produce twenty
minutes of performance material, and work out the details of where to perform it.
To locate performers, I sent a flyer to the UBC Players Club and the acting
departments at SFU, UBC, and Capilano, Douglas and Langara Colleges. Several actors
turned up by word of mouth, and one actor sent the flyer out on a list-serve for
professional actors in the city. We held two sets of auditions to secure eight actors,
and I met for coffee with a number of others until we had eleven. The play originally
had twelve characters, but we cut one (A woman who looks like Katherine Cornell)
after losing one performer to other commitments. The cast's names and roles are
listed in the performance program (see Appendix B).
Rehearsals ran two evenings a week and Saturday afternoons from May 17 to
31. These seven rehearsals added up to only about twenty-four hours to work
together to cover a lot of ground. Rehearsals began shakily under novice directing,
but the group gelled early on and the scenes took shape steadily despite dragging
perpetually behind schedule (the second scene wasn't completely set until our second
to last rehearsal). Throughout the process I was impressed by and grateful to the cast's
commitment and creativity.
By the first rehearsal, I had rewritten almost the entire script with possible
scenes selected and loose ideas of stagings in mind, but rewriting continued
(frantically) throughout the first week of rehearsals as we learned as a group to
recognize the tone, pace and possibilities of the piece and ran into parts that weren't
working. Our staging developed out of basic Viewpoints work, which I'll describe
below. I read everything I could find on Viewpoints, but am very grateful to local
theatre artist and UBC Theatre instructor Colleen Lanki, who generously shared her
expertise in physical theatre with us on two occasions. She secured bearings for us in
new territory and invaluably enriched the group's energy and understanding of the
We rehearsed downtown at Vancouver Film School (VFS). Rehearsal space is
very hard to find without a budget, so I am thankful for VFS's entirely unvested
generosity in support of the arts. Telus Studio Theatre was similarly secured by the
goodwill of staff and management at the Chan Centre. Managing Director Sid Katz
agreed on behalf of the Board of Directors to host the performance in the Telus as my
thesis defense. I couldn't have dreamed of a better space to perform this piece, and
am, again, very grateful for this singular gesture in support of artistic production on
campus. The performance's only costs were incurred for Telus' front of house and
technical staff, and were covered by a $400 grant from the Dean of Arts.
The performance began at 8:00 pm, and was followed by my ten-minute
speech and a question period. An audience of about 100 attended by invitation.
Critical territory
Our performance was rooted in the critical claim that Stein's theatre is vitally
physical. This contentious interpretation of Stem's theory, however, runs counter to
the thesis of the most current book in the field. In
This": Gertrude
Stein's Metadrama,
"They Watch
Me as They
Jane Palatini Bowers argues that Stein's plays are
relentlessly text-centred to the extent that "they oppose the physicality of
performance" (2). Bowers refuses Stein's notion of landscape on the basis that her
plays do not "represent, evoke, or in some manner correspond to a specific place" (25),
i.e. a landscape. Arguing that the plays are exercises in making language as spatial and
material as other performative elements, Bowers renames Stein's dramatic category as
"langscapes" to "reflect the true 'subject' of these plays" (3). In her view, all other
elements stand static in the thrall of textual primacy. These plays, it would seem, are
hardly plays at all.
Martin Puchner takes up Bowers' line, dubbing Stein's best known play,
Saints in Three Acts,
"a closet drama to be performed." In his study of dramatic texts
that "actively resist being staged and co-opt the world of the theatre," he finds Stein's
exemplary. They fulfill, after all, the sine qua non of the closet drama, in that
"changes must be made in order to bring [them] onto the stage" (101).
Yet if the crux of Puchner's and Bowers' arguments is that Stein's landscapes
are not written in a form ready for physical performance, we all more or less agree.
We differ perhaps in what we perceive to be the acceptable threshold of concrete
direction to make a script performable. While Bowers finds that Stein's plays
"oppos[e] the dynamism of actor and action" to "create a kind of verbal stasis within
theatre time," I interpret Stein's plays (along with Betsy Alayne Ryan), as rigorously
movement-centred, thriving in the spaces the texts leave blank. Whereas Bowers and
Puchner conclude that the play texts, therefore, insist triumphantly on remaining
texts, even as they are performed, I conclude that the texts just require more
imaginative work by the director to compose a landscape out of Stein's sparest
suggestions of character, action and atmosphere. As Stein puts it, the texts require
someone else to "d[o] the making a play o f her writing {Everybody's
Stein's phrase to
make a play
o/might simply refer to producing a play, yet her
awkward verbal phrase and definite article
{to do
suggest that she
knew she had laid aside more work than that. It suggests that her plays are not plays
until someone takes up her writing and projects it onto the stage. Again, this echoes
Bowers and Puchner, yet far from concluding that the plays must therefore be closet
dramas (to be performed or otherwise) or metadramas (i.e., at a remove from
theatrical presence), it may be that Stein's plays come with an implicit invitation to a
collaborative reader to animate them by posing them in relation to a physical
composition. As Ryan points out, in "Byron a Play," Stein cheekily defers
responsibility for the play's staging with a challenge to someone else to take it on: "a
play is this. They manage to stage this" (336). Indeed, she confides elsewhere,
"whenever I write a play it is a play because it is a thing I do not see but it is a thing
somebody can see that is what makes a play to me" {Everybody's
She writes the bare structure for someone else to see and fill with emotion, movement
and mood. The text itself - unwieldy and nonspecific - is layered on top of a staging
that is someone else's creation.
Instead of being something to act out, the text is a structure to act in relation
to. The text resists not performance but reading.
A landscape called not and now
"A Play Called Not and Now" is written mostly as stage directions, many of which are
abstract. A major part of staging it was first to decide what parts to use as dialogue,
who should say what, and what should be going on physically in the scene as they say
it. While a viewer may wish for a detailed description of dramatic events in the
performance, it is probably more productive and more in-keeping with Stein's
theoretical precepts to instead offer her idea of understanding. Stein considered a
state of pleased engagement to be a form of comprehension; if you enjoyed you
understood, and if you understood, you enjoyed. The performance's recording on
DVD is its own best description.
It is helpful, however, to consider the play's historical context. "A Play Called
Not and Now" was inspired by a Beverly Hills party given in Stein's honour on April
1, 1935. She was very recently a star at this point, and by her own account was
offered her pick of Hollywood to dine with
She met
many of "Not and Now"'s characters that night. Among those in attendance were the
likes of Charlie Chaplin, Dashiell Hammett (who invented the hard-boiled detective
novel and wrote
The Maltese
and Anita Loos (who was a well known
Hollywood writer at the time, best remembered now for her novel
and a few witty quips, like "diamonds are a girl's friend"). Written in 1936, the
play gathers a number of socialites and celebrities from that party and from Stein's
circle in Europe, including Pablo Picasso and English composer Lord Berners.
But as Mrs. Andrew Green would say in the play, it's not Charlie Chaplin,
Dashiell Hammett or Anita Loos that we're interested in, but just the ones that looked
like them. The play's characters are named as "a man who looks like Charlie Chaplin,"
"a woman who looks like Anita Loos," etc. As suggested by the look-alikes, the play
scrutinizes the relation between looking like, which is a question of identity as
conferred by others, and looking at, which is an authentic act of perceiving and
composing one's world. The play explores this distinction, investigating the way that
the pressure to perform can interfere with a sense of being that comes from inside.
This is a tricky question for anyone, but fame raises the stakes. All but three of
the play's characters are modeled after celebrities. The look-alike character names
indicate what must have been Stein's experience meeting these early Hollywood
legends: that they were a lot like other people but bore certain resemblances to
For descriptions of the party, see The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder20-21n and
Everybody's Autobiography 2-A.
certain famed personas. Stein's character names (a man/woman who looks like...)
signal the celebrities' simultaneous imitation of and estrangement from an interior,
authentically creating self. This tension is reiterated in the play by the actors'
simultaneous imitation of and estrangement from the namesakes of their characters.
Celebrity identity was a particularly personal question for Stein at this point in
her career. She had published
The Autobiography
of Alice
B. Toklas
three years
earlier in 1933, and it was a huge hit. After almost thirty years of writing obscure
pieces that circulated mostly in the Parisian avant-garde and were scarcely published,
Stein suddenly was a best-selling author and an American celebrity on tour. Her
lectures in 1934 gathered mass audiences across the country. She reports that this
experience gave her a spell of writer's block. What Stein faced post-
and what she faces in "A Play Called Not and Now" is the complex relationship
between artistic production and celebrity identity; between someone who writes and
the famous writer that that someone looks like.
This problem of identity is what the play is about, but, true to Stein's
landscape theory, it doesn't form a narrative. "Not and Now" keeps up a buzz of
excitement - the essence of some things happening like hints of a fashionable cocktail
party, a melodramatic murder mystery, an intriguing invention, and a bewildered
conclusion - even as it skips representation of the events themselves. The potential
for story hovers but doesn't land, or if it does, disperses almost as soon as it's settled.
The first scene we performed was the very beginning of the play. This is the
audience's chance to make acquaintance with the characters. This scene has the
atmosphere of a party's awkward beginning, before people are sure that they're
prepared to stay. Once they are (and they even say so), some rivalry develops between
the men and the women, which is broken by a mysterious interlude. Again - we miss
the event but we get the tension. The second scene skips ahead to about the middle of
the play. It offers a laboratory for examining characters' various relations to money -
Dashiell Hammett, for example, is confused by it, not knowing whether he writes for
art or cash; Charlie Chaplin, a billionaire in the 1920's, is cagey because his
money; and Lord Berners is aristocratically facile because money has never been
worth considering. This scene is loosely a dance number, ending with a chorus line
where the women deconstruct money as a word, indicating perhaps the shrewdest
relation of any of the characters to money as a cultural symbol.
The physical framework for this performance was inspired by the theater
practices of the contemporary American director, Anne Bogart. Stemming from Mary
Overlie's technique for isolating performers' attention to various performative
elements, Bogart's system of Viewpoints bases scene development on kinesthetic
response among actors and the layering of text with physical performance. Blocking
develops largely through improvised scenes in which the group is directed to focus
intuitively on physical variables like speed, level, gesture, direction, architecture,
spatial relationship, shape, repetition and duration.
The ensemble work in our performance drew from these Viewpoints
directives and took them in directions of our own. Viewpoints provided a starting
point for composing landscape, and many of the project's most significant insights
have come out of the group's attention to its physical impulses and dynamics.
Measuring individual volition against the impulse of the group, actors create and
respond to what poet and Stein-critic Lynn Hejinian calls "long-wave and short-wave
sympathetic vibrations" (113): the short ones of nearby encounters, and the long ones
that reach out to the peripheries to encompass the entire group's energy. One person
performing a precise gesture or breaking into a run or lying suddenly on the ground
may spark a reaction from the person beside her, or it may send ripples that change
the rhythm of the entire group. This sort of listening is compositional - both for the
actors who are moved by it and for the spectator who reads the movement.
For further explanation of Viewpoints, see Bogart, Dixon and Smith, Lampe and especially Herrington.
Unchoreographed but yet not entirely improvisational, the idea is to let some patterns
evolve and reemerge every time; to let some amount of blocking develop but without
ever fully setting into determinate choreography. Indeed, in landscape, this is what
we're looking for: everything in relation and having its formation, but being dynamic,
alive and attentive; to be not composed but composing in every second. Playful
awareness was our keystone.
The intensity of actors' attention to each other during the movement segments
of the performance created just the sort of physical excitement that I imagine Stein
was looking for in a play. The text offered an additional dynamic, rather than an
authoritative program to act out. Relationships formed and reformed through actors'
awareness of each other, their physical coincidences in the space, and through
This view of organic, physical dynamism butts up once again against Bowers'
perception that "Stein's is a [static] theatre of language" (2). In explanation of Stein's
supposed disillusionment with performance, Bowers writes that "performance is a
rehearsed and repeated enactment. Ritualized and, in a sense, fossilized through
repetition, the text [for Stein] was no longer immediate. It was no longer the game
itself, but rather the book of rules" (84). While Bowers rightly identifies the
characteristics of traditional, narrative-driven theatre that Stein found uninteresting,
she refuses to grant that Stein took the next step towards creating a theatre on her
own terms. Bowers concludes, rather, that Stein became unconvinced "of the
possibility of reconciling her own poetic process and product with playwriting and
with the performance of her play" (87).
Stein does report that in her first experience of seeing one of her plays staged (Four Saints in Three Acts
in Chicago, 1934), she was "less excited about [it] than [she] had expected to be" since it was her "opera
but it was so far away" {Everybody's Autobiography 199). But it nonetheless turns out to be "very
satisfying" on the next page; Stein "liked looking at it and [...] liked hearing" (200). Being far away turns
out to be literal, since the show improves after intermission when her host finds seats closer to the stage. Ii
"Plays," she concedes that "it did almost what I wanted.. .anyway I am pleased" (269).
T o the contrary, however, plays and p l a y w r i t i n g w o u l d seem to offer language
all the liveliness and iterative variability that Stein hoped to create i n her w r i t i n g . In
our ensemble, playful physical relationships d i d the w o r k that Stein's playful words
do. Actors created w i t h their bodies a shifting landscape of relationships through
repetitions, redirections, resonances, shifting levels, h i n g i n g associations and
experimentations i n time - effects that are all so reminiscent of the ways i n w h i c h
Stein was listening to grammatical structures and composing her poetries.
W h a t the process o f staging "Not and N o w " revealed was just h o w alive the
text was, even once rewritten i n an attempt to p i n d o w n a certain interpretation o f it.
Far from becoming ritualized or fossilized, the text offered parameters for an
ecosystem that proceeded to produce different weather patterns and different events
w i t h every regeneration. The semi-improvisatory nature of our b l o c k i n g ensured that
each rehearsal was a n e w composition. Different shapes, games and energies came out
of each r u n , reconfiguring the context into w h i c h scripted words erupted. A s a result,
lines meant differently each time; dialogic dynamics shifted and relationships were
renegotiated. This aliveness, I believe, was the spark of Stein's delight i n theatrical
and social landscapes, and i n her project of w r i t i n g plays for someone else to see.
Appendix A :
(adapted by Heather Arvidson and Adam Frank)
Prologue: Setting the stage
[All characters on stage standing upper stage center in four rows; the three narrators,
Dr. Gidon, Mrs. Andrew Greene and David Green, are hidden in back row. They
hang loose and wait. Dr. Gidon steps out from behind to front stage right.]
DR. GIDON: The difference between not and now. That is what makes any one look
like some one.
[Mrs. Andrew Greene steps out from behind the characters to front stage right.]
MRS. ANDREW GREENE: All the characters are there and the one that looks like Dr.
Gidon is the one that says what has just been said only it is not what Dr. Gidon would
say but it is said by the one that is like him.
DR. GIDON: The characters are now all in order.
MRS. ANDREW GREENE: They first meet as each one is just about to go away.
DAVID GREEN: Hello they say and they do each go away.
[Each character turns to another and says "Hullo," then leaves the rows and begins to
mill (grid-movement: direction, speed, level, gestures "hailing cab" and "hullo").]
MRS. ANDREW GREENE: Not that that makes any difference, as the real one is not
there but just the one that is just like him.
DR. GIDON: This is what they all say.
Corresponds to p. 422-424 in Stein's Last Operas and Plays.
ALL (separately and together in vocal symphony): Anybody can get impatient.
[Characters have been milling but they come to a stop. Pause/take a breath.]
ALL TOGETHER (loudly): Anybody can get impatient with an aurora borealis!
[Characters start milling again quickly, high intensity.]
DAISY FELLOWES: One has a bad temper.
[Characters head towards their home base on stage.]
LADY DIANA GRAY: And the other is irritable.
ANITA LOOS: The one like Picasso meets the one who looks like David Greene.
[Once characters have reached home bases:]
GERTRUDE ATHERTON: And then they all come around and say that they are not
going away.
[On "away" everyone strikes their signature pose, except for Gertrude Atherton who
takes an extra moment to pose. Everyone is now in character.]
HAMMETT: I am a man who looks like Dashiell Hammett and I am not going away.
PICASSO: I am a man who looks like Picasso and I am not going away.
CHARLIE CHAPLIN: I am a man who looks like Charlie Chaplin and I am not going
LORD BERNERS: I am a man who looks like Lord Berners and I am not going away.
DAVID GREEN: I am a man who looks like David Green and I am not going away.
ANITA LOOS: I am a woman who looks like Anita Loos and I am not going away.
GERTRUDE ATHERTON: I am a woman who looks like Gertrude Atherton and I am
not going away.
LADY DIANA GREY: I am a woman who looks like Lady Diana Grey and I am not
going away.
DAISY FELLOWES: I am a woman who looks like Daisy Fellowes and I am not going
MRS. ANDREW GREENE: I am a woman who looks like Mrs. Andrew Greene and I
am not going away.
DR. GIDON: A l l who look like any one of them do stay.
[Dr. Gidon and Mrs. Andrew Greene leave to take seats at the edge of stage right and
left respectively. On Dr. Gidon's movement all other characters move to their
ACT I: Setting the stage, continued
[Men come together at lower stage right (somewhat confined to that space through
most of the scene) in an ego-grooming ritual; they show off for each other expressions
of authority and charisma, encouraging each other in friendly rivalry. Dashiell
Hammett, Picasso, David Green, Lord Berners, Charlie Chaplin, in this order, stand
around making witty remarks, guffawing somewhat bashfully. Two rounds of
Meanwhile women have brought a tablecloth to upper to mid stage left. They listen
to the men offhandedly as they hold the cloth up at four corners to suggest a table.]
ANITA LOOS: They hesitate about making witty remarks to each other
GERTRUDE ATHERTON: but they do do it just the same.
LADY DIANA GREY: This is what they say.
[Anita Loos mocks Lord Berners with an exaggerated version of his gesture; women
drop the table cloth.]
MEN (overlapping): We do not look like any other one.
DASHIELL HAMMETT: We will look at the women.
PICASSO: Each one.
[Mocked by Anita Loos.]
DAVID GREEN: Each one.
[Mocked by Gertrude Atherton.]
[Mocked by Lady Diana Grey.]
[Mocked by Daisy Fellowes.]
PICASSO (to the men): Each one?
LORD BERNERS: At which one?
[The women all laugh.]
ANITA LOOS: As if they did look like them.
MEN (overlapping): Yes!
[Men speak among themselves for reassurance]
DASHIELL HAMMETT: I was saying yes.
PICASSO: Yes, I had been to say yes.
CHARLIE CHAPLIN: If not no one had not said not
LORD BERNERS: Yes, yes yes.
[They all look at the women who pause.]
DAISY FELLOWES: And so they all began again to look like another one.
[The women all take seats around the tablecloth, spread out on the floor. They are
frozen, looking in different directions]
Each man directs a solo performance outward towards the audience: fancy moves,
showing off.]
DASHIELL HAMMETT: If I look at you you will not look like me.
[Hammett takes a seat at the "table." As he takes a seat he enters the women's tableau,
looking at one of them. Each man (except David Green) will follow suit as he takes a
seat and joins the tableau.]
PICASSO: I said I did not look at two and three.
[Picasso takes a seat at the table.]
CHARLIE CHAPLIN: Charlie Chaplin looked like me.
[Chaplin takes a seat at the table.]
LORD BERNERS: I do not look at me.
[Lord Berners takes a seat at the table.
David Green is about to deliver his line but loses his nerve; walks off center stage and
takes a seat.
Dr. Gidon comes in from off stage right into the zone the men have just left. He clears
his throat and all the characters look at him and freeze in the second tableau.
Meanwhile Mrs. Andrew Greene enters from off stage left and stands behind the
DR. GIDON (addressing the table): Where is the man who looks like David Greene?
[Characters shift to third tableau, each looking at or conspicuously not at Mrs.
Andrew Greene.]
DR. GIDON: There is plenty of time.
ALL (overlapping, uncomfortable): Is there.
DR. GIDON: Yes there is, there is plenty of time.
[Characters freeze briefly, then move in the grid to form a vertical line.]
Scene II: Money chorus line
[Characters continue to hold the vertical line before starting together. With attention
to levels, speed, direction, repetition and gesture ("sniffing" and single chorus-line
kick), they make geometric shapes - circles, triangles and squares - by either
transcribing them on the floor as they mill, or forming stationary shapes with their
bodies. Characters fall into character and out of the geometric shapes only to deliver
their lines, and rejoin characterless movement once finished.]
MRS. ANDREW GREENE: But she had a piece of what she had.
And she said she ate it if she did.
And if she did she ate it with her mouth.
DAVID GREEN: And with it she was welcome here at once.
DR. GIDON: There is no use in saying money is not so.
It is.
The only difference between man and monkey
Is what money makes.
If there is no money then like anything
They eat what they have.
DAVID GREEN: But money is not so.
DR. GIDON: It is kept.
DAVID GREEN: That is what it is.
Stein 431-433.
DR. GIDON: And nothing is kept except what money is.
So you see money is so.
[Movement intensifies for an extended interval before lines continue.]
MRS ANDREW GREENE: And the one who is like Dashiell Hammett what has he to
say about money.
DASHIELL HAMMETT: Money I have money.
DASHIELL HAMMETT: Money when I have no money.
DASHIELL HAMMETT: When I have no money.
ANITA LOOS: He says.
DASHIELL HAMMETT: Money yes money.
[Extended interval of movement.]
DAVID GREEN: And what is the one who is like Picasso what is he to do when he
sees money all the way through.
PICASSO: He is to do what he does.
DAISY FELLOWES: Hold it hoe it.
LADY DIANA GREY: Hold it and hold it.
GERTRUDE ATHERTON: Have it and not have it.
PICASSO: But he knows where money goes
And so also as money goes
He does not go.
. 20
[Movement intensifies for extended interval before lines continue.]
[Dr. Gidon, Mrs. Andrew Greene and David Green debate with frenzied intensity.]
DR. GIDON: Where is money to go
Money can not go
and say so.
MRS. ANDREW GREENE: Therefore money is always best.
DAVID GREEN: And best is better than butter.
MRS. ANDREW GREENE: And without money there is no butter.
DR. GIDON: And so there is always money.
[Extended interval of somewhat calmed movement.]
CHARLIE CHAPLIN: The one who looks like Charlie Chaplin arranges neatly that he
is not there.
LADY DIANA GREY: Where is he.
CHARLIE CHAPLIN: He is not there.
DAISY FELLOWES: And where is money.
CHARLIE CHAPLIN: Money is there.
[Extended interval of movement.]
LORD BERNERS: The one who is like Lord Berners never arranges that money is
money. Why not.
ALL THE WOMEN: Because. Of course why not.
DR. GIDON: And so they all think, each one who looks like any one that money is
[Women and David Green arrive in chorus line across centre stage. They deliver lin
in spoken song; do a chorus-line kick after their own lines and a sneeze after the
others' lines. Men lounge on the ground across the lower stage, looking at the
ANITA LOOS: We do not know
GERTRUDE ATHERTON: because of know and no.
LADY DIANA GREY: No money is not so and so.
DAISY FELLOWES: It is easy to see what is seen.
LADY DIANA GREY: Money is not seen
DAVID GREEN: oh no. And so.
GERTRUDE ATHERTON: There is no no in seen.
ANITA LOOS: There is N. O. in money.
GERTRUDE ATHERTON: There is S.O. in seen.
LADY DIANA GREY: There is no so in money.
[Characters all freeze. They move together to join the chorus line, pause and bend
forward in the sneezing gesture.]
B: P e r f o r m a n c e
Gertrude Surfn
In typical eomtolaUe gait
By Gertrude Stein
This staged reading is the result of a workshop,
May 17-31, directed by Heather Arvidson, with
support and consultation from Adam Frank.
Alex Day as a man who looks like Dashiell Hammett
Kellen Fo as a man who looks like Picasso
Michael Undem as a man who looks like
Charlie Chaplin
Daniel Bruce as a man who looks like Lord Berners
Kevin Spenst as a man who looks like David Green
We'd like to thank:
Colleen Lanki
Jenny Craig as a woman who looks like Anita Loos
Lindsay Barton as a woman who looks like
Gertrude Atherton
Wendy Dallion as a woman who looks like
Lady Diana Grey
Jenny Kassen as a woman who looks like
Daisy Fellowes
Sid Katz, management and staff
at the Chan Centre
UBC Dean of Arts
UBC Department of English
Vancouver Film School
Siobhan McCormick as a woman who looks like
Mrs. Andrew Greene
Olivia Delachanal as a man who looks like
Doctor Gidon
Works Cited
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Theatre: A History.
New York: Routledge,
Stein's avant-garde
Bay-Cheng, Sarah.
Mama Dada: Gertrude
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seven essays on art and theatre.
New York:
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The Death
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Eds. Edward Burns and Ulla