Puppets and Direction by Anna Lublina
Music arranged by Lilly Kaplan
Performed by Julia Cavagna
Photos by Darius Rafieyan
2-D limbs—all colors, sizes, pattern—hang together on a wall upstage, like a clothes rack full of body parts. Some are photographs of limbs or photographs of objects; others are sketches, abstractions, symbols. An aria version of “Someone to Love” (Queen) sings out. A beacon of high drama, the emotional tenor of an identity in flux, the song continues as the scene unfolds.
A naked performer walks onstage and begin to get dressed, unconcerned with the music, choosing their body coverings from the 2-D options on the back wall. They try on different body parts, strapping a scribbled rib cage and photo-realistic thigh to their bodies to frame their real genitals. As they try on the paper parts, they move downstage to check themselves out, treating the audience like a mirror. How does this collage of body parts fit them? As if they were learning to manipulate a puppet, the performer brings the 2-D body-part-collages to life. They improv with the physics of their anatomy and the characters their physical limits create. The performer is as informal and intimate as if they were in their own bedrooms, while the dramatic aria rings out. They try on different identities like outfits, even putting on body parts that don’t fit their own: mismatched skin colors, different sized bellies, genitals not like their own. They go back to the exposed closet and try again. Eventually, the performer finds their best outfit, a complete set of photographs from their own body with a mask of their own face. They move downstage where they triumphantly sink into the embodiment of their 2-D personhood. They walk off stage, exploring the materiality of their mediated body.