The infinite game of becoming | Susanne Kennedy

In the beginning there was: HE. Man as the measure of all things so that he may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

He separated himself from the Greek chorus’ dancing and recitation and pronounced ‘I’: the birth of the tragic hero. From there he went out to conquer the world and all its inhabitants. He declared himself as ‘self’ and everything else as ‘other’. He declared himself as a rational and thinking being and on stage he recounted his adventures: conquering the savages and killing the beasts.

The monologue of the imperialist about the universal human condition was exquisite: He told us how he was created in Gods own image. HE made him a subject, an organism – a tragic Adam who was cast out of paradise because he was seduced by Eve. The protagonist shouts, he weeps, he implores, he moves the audience to tears. They see themselves in him! The applause was never-ending. The critics were raving about it.

But now! Suddenly in the middle of his performance, the face of our protagonist distorts, his words become slurry, unrecognisable, his movements that have been strong and decisive become weak and lifeless. There is a cry from afar but it originates from his own chest. His eyes roll back into his head and there: he bursts into thousands of fragments! The audience gasps with horror.

Our protagonist is “becoming-woman, becoming-child, becoming-animal, -vegetable, or -mineral; becoming-molecular of all kinds, becoming-particles.”1 In the end he has become imperceptible. His becoming is never-ending and never finished. The play goes on and on. Hours become days become weeks and years.

The centre stage seems empty but in the margins there is movement and giggling. Strange beings human and non-human are stirring in the wings. They communicate in languages we have yet to learn. These beings perform an exorcism. It is the human being that is being exorcised.

The creatures place our protagonist – or what is left of him, or rather what isn’t left of him – one last time on the autopsy table to remake his anatomy. Their dialogue sounds as follows: “Man is sick because he is badly constructed. – We must make up our minds to strip him bare in order to scrape off that animalcule that itches him mortally.”

Our protagonist, who is no longer the protagonist, answers joyously:
“For you can tie me up if you wish, but there is nothing more useless than an organ. When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom. Then you will teach him again to dance wrong side out as in the frenzy of dance halls and this wrong side out will be his real place.”2

The protagonist’s body has burst into a multitude of fragments. He is in the process of becoming and is no longer a ‘he’, but a ‘she’ or an ‘it’. He or she or it has developed a body without organs. He no longer needs his voice to tell us how he killed his father and married his mother. He no longer needs a face to cry his tragic tears. The complex has vanished into the hot air of the theatre.

Nature has taken its course and the audience starts to realise the dark truth in their delirium: there is no separation! The body on stage has no borders because it is always already part of something else. And the spectators are forced to witness this transformative process.

Confusion is spreading: Where is the conflict of feelings? What is this strange happening on stage? Where is our hero?

More and more people are leaving the theatre. Some slam the doors in protest. By now we have reached the scene where our protagonist has started to mingle with the other bodies, entities, beings and forces on stage and beyond.

A terrible realisation is dawning: There is no subject that lies behind the production, that performs the production!

This is unsupportable. “Start acting!” a spectator cries out in utmost agony. Others demand: What is your name? What is your gender? What is your nationality? Your intention? Your goal? Your language?

But our protagonist can no longer answer, nor does he desire to.
Our fragmented protagonist is growing and growing – beyond the borders of the theatre, the street, the city, the nation, the universe and beyond.

Our protagonist who stopped being a protagonist approaches the unknowable and the unpredictable – this quest is full of surprises and suspense. He/She/It is utterly faithful to him/her/it -self, moving through space and time: an ever-changing nomadic subject.

This body can no longer be called human – it becomes a multiplicity of possible new connections and affects with other bodies and, more broadly, with the Earth itself. This is pure theatre.
The boundaries and limits that this body encounters during his becoming are simply being incorporated: institutions, state borders, zones, ages, genders, death. This becomes a game – the infinite game of becoming.

No one knows when this game began, for there is no beginning and no end. This infinite play is not restricted by time and the rules change constantly. The play we are watching is about total surrender. The drama is cosmic and encompasses all life.The play has no director, no script, no final outcome. It only has non-protagonists.

When all is done, a group of human beings in white protection suits enter and clear the stage. Only 4 people applaud.

The human face
is an empty power,
a field of death…
…after countless thousands of years that the human face has spoken and breathed,
one still has the impression that it hasn’t even begun
to say what it is and what it knows.3

Susanne Kennedy is a German author and director. Her works have been invited to the most known theatre festivals like the Wiener Festwochen, Dutch Theatre Festival, the Berliner Theatertreffen, Ruhrtriennale and many more. In 2017 she was awarded with the Europe Prize New Theatrical Realities.

1 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (2009)

2 Antonin Artaud, To have done with the judgment of god (1975)

3 Antonin Artaud, (written for a presentation of his Portraits and drawings at the
galerie Pierre, July 4-20, 1947)