isFor a long while I’ve greatly admired, and felt true kinship, with playwright/poet/dancer  Sissy BoydOriginally from Philadelphia’s Main Line, she currently resides, creates and performs in Southern California. Sissy is a former Martha Graham dancer, has acted in films as well as on stage. She’s a woman after my own heart, spare, understated, still-waters-running-deeply incarnated that includes a  sharp mind, dry wit too. We always laugh together. Just now I had the good fortune to read her most recent play “Movement for Two Voices” performed as part of a two play evening whose overall title is Riddance. Imbued with a psalm-like luminescence, I invited “Movement for Two Voices” to visit this blog. Sissy accepted my invitation on behalf of the play’s two character – V1 and V2. The complete text of this short, restrained play is reproduced below. For a glance into the author’s backstory by way of introduction, I sent Sissy several concise questions and received equally concise replies. These follow:

Q: Would you tell me a little about “Movement for Two Voices” – what motivated you to write it?

A: it was an an amends to my mother.

Q: What was your goal?

A: to get through to what is beautiful about unconsciousness.

Q: Is dance intrinsic to this work or not?

A: movement is…I don’t want it to look like dance.

Q: Who is Wesley Walker.?

A: Wes is a playwright…we shared the evening; 2 separate pieces. and Wes did a lot of the direction in my piece.

Q: Tell me a few lines about your play-writing career, and some themes of the previous plays.

A: my plays are always about my stiffling upbringing, my rigid, cold mother.

Q: Tell me a little about where your plays have been workshopped, also the theater group with which you’ve been involved for so long?

A: I was so fortunate to land with John Steppling. a brilliant and incredible teacher. and some of the same writers are still together.

Q: What about your dancing life?

A: Everyone thought I looked like a dancer, but I was never truly happy. I found my self dancing to words. and then very poetic words…I don’t like dance movement…

Q: What about your poetry writing life and with whom you studied?

A: I studied with Holly Prado, a wonderful L.A. poet. she never told me what to do; I stumbled around which is what she hoped for.

Q: Say a word or two about your background, anything you’d like.

A: I was born into an upper type household. manners meant everything. I never saw anything artistic until a boyfriend, an architecture student, Louis Kahn’s protege, found and liked me! he was magnificent, took me to foreign movies, museums, all of it.

Q: Also, if you have a more general photo of yourself, could you send?

A: HEAVEN HELP ME…

photo-70

(emply stage. V1 and V2. V1 enters from upst. R, moves diagonally forward. V2, at the edge.)

photo-69

SC.1

V1: the stage is colorless, empty.

V2: how beautiful,

say that again.

V1: I lie down in the empty space of

tight silence,

bleached light.

V2: what can you do then?

V1: inch toward my mother.

V2: though she’s dead?

(pause.)

V1: with dreadful grace then I rise and turn, straining to find her.

the beastly clouds the black crows flock.

so your Mother died.

the flat shadows the blue midnight.

 

SC.2

V1: lying there

on the station floor

practically nothing

the smell of low tide

waiting for it to rise

and roll me out

V2: what good

none you remember

not your children

V1: the station

where I wandered

water dripping

V2: get up see the door

none you remember

V1: how I have wandered

from under the dogwood

from a town of grasses

then stepping

into the outskirts

into a dark roar

V2: from precision

from your feet placed

from graceful timing

 

SC.3

V1 lying in the boat. on the boards.

weight of the sea under me.

Mother, look. come closer.

Mother I can’t move.

come stand over me,

draw a circle around us.

watch. I am motionless,

so that you may come closer.

listen. I am silent

so that you might list

the horrors I brought.

 

I will listen.

I belong here.

Mother, draw the circle

and keep me beside you.

I am more afraid than ever.

 

Father found me drunk on the floor.

Had I climbed into bed with him?

 

there was always horror.

train stations.

strangers. scary men.

the tall man.

 

had I climbed into bed with my father?

 

I didn’t go on after that.

I’ve been here a long time.

not knowing.

this boat.

 

Mother.

I trained myself to lose my way.

looking for the tall man.

 

did I walk?  

for a long time.  it was gray.  I was relieved.

the gulls stood, many.

facing the sea.

 

Sc.4

V1: still there

with the sanderlings

in the lapping.

the thick sand under me.

waiting and there is nothing.

his voice ran out

and his arms fell away

nothing of a body

armless in the end

however once he knew

I remember

that surf

steady I was there.

V2: in a turn

turning

and on then

 

Sc. 5

V2: go back.

V1: I was paralyzed.

the hospital for months.

lonely.

no not that.

too ill to be.

endless noisy nights.

clang of food trays.

concave on the white bed.

dreams of perfect balance.

death.

a weightless balance.

 

I looked through tints of blue.

 

that dream.

V2: paralyzed in hot August.

and months leading up.

V1: until my toes.

I saw them move.

still not feeling.

V2: not yet.

 

Sc.6

V1: remember empty stages.

entering before sound.

V2: talk about your body.

lo, the very stepping in.

V1: this is possible.

my arms lifting.

V2: how slowly you move.

crossing the space.

your ribs lifting

V1: so high I turn.

I spiral.

V2: your head falls.

V1: my neck and shoulders.

and rises.

V2: you love falling.

and rising.

when you may.

 

Sc7

V1: I watch myself

dress stuck, salty.

sea rolling out.

V2: you watching.

V1: him saying

your dress, stuck to you.

him saying

pull it off.

sea rolling in.

me saying

you pull it off.

V2: the hazard, the drowning.

the black night, black dogs.

V1: waves softly,

me falling,

pulling him.

 

the waves.

I step,

about run. but slow,

slower, longer.

him saying, your dress, pull it off.

me saying, you pull it off.

 

who then. he.

pulling the stuck dress.

nothing settled about love.

 

me saying pull again.

 

him pulling the stuck dress.

 

me there so naked.

at last.

[YouTube: “Bleed”: Sissy Boyd w. Debra Di Blasi}

[Music for Riddance composed by Sissy Boyd’s longtime musical collaborator Sharon Smith –Music cues by Sharon Smith]