By Caleigh Gumbiner
Jess Almasy read her piece “The Woman Destroyed or How to (Not) Get Punched in the Face” to a group of LALA Festival goers and asked for feedback on points that resonated with us. Immediately after hearing Jess’s play/essay/poem, I wanted a copy of the text. My brain wanted to make this play tangible or tactile in some way. But this play/essay/poem can’t live without Jess’s embodiment. The words live with and within Jess. In the feedback circle there were lots of thoughts on how to stage the ‘play’. Could images flash as she reads her index? How do we stage ghosts haunting their old armchairs? Could we get Simone de Beauvoir to read her excerpts? How do we overlap a Girls audition and an abortion? We are all a little obsessed with final product. But Jess feels no need to put this play in the machine towards a ‘final product’. Jess alludes the desire to put this piece in the capitalist structure of a play for a bought ticket. There is a list of characters and ways to make it a play, but this may be its fullest manifestation. Jess believes completeness can live in the incompleteness. Giving these words to this community of people in this moment might be the most complete form these words need to take. This might be exactly what we need to do with them – what they need to do.
Contextualized by the morning’s discussion on parenting while being an artist, I’ve been thinking about the play’s phrase “the dead people living inside of us”. Are words dead inside of us until we share them? Are we handing them over to a communal parenting system once we share-birth them? What is our responsibility to raise them? How much autonomy do they have?
Caleigh Gumbiner is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in Theatre Arts and a minor in Jewish Studies. What’s important to them right now is figuring out how to find a sense of self in a third person pronoun and finding ways to support those with questions. They recently collaborated on The Bechdel Show at Bryant-Lake Bowl with Slap Happy Studios. September will be filled with The Egg and I the Musical with Combustible Company. Spring will take them to Penumbra to work on This Bitter Earth written by Harrison Rivers directed by Talvin Wilks.
Photo Credit: Billy Noble, Box Factory