MALLORY CATLETT

DIRECTOR/dramaturg

THIS WAS THE END

OCT 2009
Research from the great Roger Shattuck and his book Proust’s Binoculars

The act of ultimate recognition removes all images from the stream of time to set them up temporally equidistant in Time, equally available to our consciousness. And then we are not longer pinned to the present looking backwards . . . The act of involuntary memory, fleetingly, and the act of recognition more permanently, wrench themselves free of clock time to find a perspective vast enough to hold all our experience. (pg 48)

Multiplicity now brings not confusion but dimension and depth. Memory in Proust’s sense designates a stereoscopic or “stereologic” consciousness which see the world simultaneously (and thus out of time) in relief. Merely to remember something is meaningless unless the remembered image is combined with a moment in the present affording the same object or objects. Like our eyes our memories must see double; those two images then converge in our minds into a single heightened reality. (pg 47)

Pseudoscpic effect means precisely reverse relief: near is far and far is near. Certain kinds of optical apparatus, like certain forms of writing, can produce this vivid distortion of reality. The opening of Proust’s novel creates an alluring pseudoscopic effect in which the past both haunts and hypnotizes the present. (pg 48)

SEPT 2009
In the borderland of coming slumber, when we are not yet overwhelmed by it’s full power, the steadying contradictions of the external worlds are, in a measure, by degrees cut off, whilst the will still holds a slowly lessening rule… the control of our ideas escapes us, and whatever rises appears, as it were, spontaneous… the borderland of sleep is haunted by hallucinations… voices…. distressingly real visions seen during the prae-dormitium and at no other period. (S. Weir Mitchell, 1890)

The central conceit of This Was The End is that it takes place years after the end of Chekhov’s play, probably after the revolution. Much older only 4 characters remain – Vanya, Sonya, Yelena and Astrov. Part intervention, part re-enactment, the events of the play unfold as the characters reconstruct the past in a last ditch effort to alter the outcome.

Chekhov’s play is dismantled and reconstructed through an alternate logic that arose out of an investigation into sleeping disorders and Proust, an insomniac himself. The script maintains vestiges of this research in the text itself and begins with a overture taken directly from Proust’s Swann’s Way .

I’m attempting to distill in some sense a kind of anxiety I feel in Chekhov about passage of time and our total inability to deal with it. The disorders that are exacerbated by aging—sleep disturbance, dependence on medication, distortions of memory and forgetting—are key to my inquiry.

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