Unfinished Thoughts: God/Head

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Image shared via CC by Craig A Rodway

On Wednesday I went to see God/Head at the Ovalhouse Theatre. You’ve probably missed the boat unless you’re reading this before Saturday night, if you haven’t, do go see it. I should really curb my habit of only ever being able to fit a show into my life right at the end of the run. Anyway HERE FOLLOWS THOUGHTS. And probably spoilers. Consider yourself warned on both counts.

I’m pretty tired at the moment. Pretty exhausted actually. I have every day up until the 1st of September planned in detail, and only a very few of those say ‘day off’. I’m burrowing into the last 5 month dash of my PhD, training for a triathlon, trying to get people to go to the second Performance in the Pub event, writing an EP with my mate Simon, preparing for two consecutive weekends doing Story Map with the ace Third Angel, gallivanting off to Cambridge and London and Lincoln, trying to find a dress suitable for an observant Muslim wedding. That kind of thing.

This isn’t about me. But it is. Because I’m writing it. In fact to pretend that I don’t feel all of those things, and that they’re not effecting how I react to a show and what I write, is a bit like lying, really. The bad kind. The kind that doesn’t ask you to come with me on the crest of a lie, but that pushes your head under the surface and tells you to breathe in.

I’m pretty tired at the moment. I fell asleep briefly 4 times while trying to read today. I understand Chris when he stands on a stage and talks about a full mind, and yet still filling it with sound, and shopping lists, and having to do those tasks that keep you alive, and then how you’d feel if suddenly, suddenly something continuum-shattering happened to you; ‘I don’t have the time to feel this’.

That was one of my first thoughts when I had my heart broken last year;  ‘I don’t have the time to feel this’. This isn’t about me. But it is. Because when Honour Bayes – Chris’ guest for the night I saw the show – when Honour told us about a time when she had lost control in public I remembered fainting in a station in Leicester. I remembered not recognising the new layout of Loughborough station, missing my stop, crying, sobbing, and fainting in Leicester station.

This isn’t about me. It’s about God/Head. Which is a fucking brilliant title, really. It’s a show about a true story. It’s a show that is true, both in content, and about the fact it is a story. It is a show that contained the incredible, brilliant, grounding presence of Honour, who looked out into the audience with her kohl rimmed eyes, and read lines like they were words on a page Chris had written for her. I never saw someone look so much like a boy you imagined in your head as Honour looking up from her page, and fixing us with her gaze that said ‘I’m reading this out because Chris asked me to’.

God/Head is about writing. It is about being God. About being inhabited by God. About words. About The Word. It is about a boy. It is about voice, and the rhythms that infect us, breath, and inarticulacy. Repetitions again and again remind you that you are hearing a story. The weight of God inside a writer. The opportunity when the boy gets to speak to his creator. Theatre as a form of incantation.

This isn’t about me. It’s about God/Head. In which Chris talks about the sound, the rhythms of religion. About dreams, too. And psychosis. Words fall away. Repetition dulls the story. Symbols rise to the surface. Hieroglyphs are performed away from us. And then we’re left with the rhythms, then the instructions, then the objects.

“In this world of states reduced to symbols, phenomena such as sound and light, for which linguistic representations are lacking, are coded and added to the world of objects. As contagion becomes transmission, matter is redefined in terms of the signal, and bodies turn into beams of light” – p.39 Frances Dyson, Sounding New Media, Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture.

Chris and Honour tell a story about falling apart. At least, that’s what I see.

It felt less ‘finished’, to me, than the work in progress of Keep Breathing I saw last year. I think it was meant to, or even if it wasn’t, it was right that it should do so. ‘This is an unfinished story’, it says, with equal emphasis on both words.

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