Le Défi Edgy: Of MADNESS and MONSTROSITY

By JACQUELINE van der GEER

It was a good week. I got the ingredients to make my performance for Le Défi Edgy and travelled in time, losing myself in The Yellow Wallpaper, a story I discovered while doing research on one of my “secret” ingredients…

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In 1891, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote a short story that shocked many a reader in that era. It was about madness, based on an event in her own life. Locked into a room she despises, a married woman suffers from a post-partum depression, which in 1891 was diagnosed as hysteria.

We follow the woman’s experience by reading her secret diary (as she is forbidden to do anything), which exposes her slow trajectory towards madness.

Gilman let you feel every crawling inch of craziness. And she poses through this story the question to you:

If, under similar circumstances circumstances, would you yourself  start crawling out of the yellow wallpaper?

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Imagine the room you are in is locked for weeks — maybe months.  There is a lack of communication with the outside world, your cure from hysteria is to sit in a room and do nothing, no talking, no writing and then you start to see a pattern in the wallpaper…

A strong connection invaded my system right away, as I was shocked to discover that I do know that story inside and out: I saw it happening with my own mother and actually lived this myself when I was much younger, so much under the influence of being nice, quiet, secure and sweet.

Remember how, when you were a kid and you were being maybe a little obnoxious, your parents sent you to your room or gave you a timeout? Remember when you had to sit still or stay inside, when all your friends were playing and you weren’t allowed to join them? How the time seemed to streeeetch on forever? Maybe your mind started to waver and wander, and perhaps you started to imagine… something along the lines of the wallpaper in your room coming alive?

There’s a reason people in movies freak out in solitary confinement: having nothing to do for hours on end makes you a little nuts.

And now here is the problem: I am so obsessed living this story, but I have to get the other ingredients in it too, how?

Play outside and dada a bit, I guess… and leave the wallpaper for what it is for a while…

You can see how the story ends at Le Défi Edgy, happening March 9 at the Sala Rossa.

Given only a prop, a sound effect, a quote and a time limit, Jacqueline van der Geer was left to her own devices to create and present a short work. A festive finale not to be missed! 

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