David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites #14

20 slides are each projected for 20 seconds and spoken to for the same period, no more, no less. The script for one of these precision-based presentations is found below.

Season 3: PC14#


Previously on Peachy Coochy I had attempted to construct well-balanced people by setting up an encounter between a horde of zombies and a band of ghosts in the hope that they would blend to their mutual advantage. The experiment had gone disastrously wrong. I had come to a dead end. I was exhausted. I turned off the ignition and fell asleep in my car.


When I first started writing for theatre, back in 1972 or thereabouts,  I used to say that I was committed to reproducing the language of dreams on stage. Rather than concern ourselves with the tired and tiresome conventions of the well told story and the psychologically rounded character I declared that we would voyage into the chaos of the unconscious.


I find it quite embarrassing now when  I see old video clips of myself banging on about dreams and theatre.  Nevertheless, we developed a strong signature style and the work was unsettling, obscene and funny. Gradually we moved  away from hardcore surrealism towards imagistic work set in a territory of broken narratives and eruptive psychologies. 


I was walking down a street in West London and a bloke came up and asked me the time and I realised I’d left my watch in the bathroom so I apologised and carried on looking for this shop that was supposed to stock grub screws, the sort you screw door knobs on with.  They’re quite hard to find, surprisingly.


Then I bumped into  a woman called Teresa who used to live next door to us in Holloway.  She said she still had a book of mine that I’d lent her before she moved. She said if walked to her new house we could pick it up. I said okay and off we went.  I asked her if she knew of the hardware shop I was looking for. She didn’t.


I got the book off her and walked for a bit then found the hardware shop. I had a sample screw with me which I showed the man and he said he had some so I asked for a dozen, thinking I don’t want to have to come all the way back here again next time a door knob falls off. Then I went for a cup of tea.


My neck was aching. I realised I’d fallen asleep in my car. The sun was up. There was no need for me to stay in the derelict shopping centre any longer. On the way back I remembered I’d been dreaming. There was something about the dream that wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it.


Like anybody else, I expect,  my dreams were sometimes elating, often frustrating, intermittently frightening and always at least a little strange. On a good night they were very strange. The whole point is that nobody controls their dreams and therefore nobody can be described as a good dreamer. It’s just something that pays a visit from time to time.


But as I threaded my way through the rush-hour traffic at the junction with the M11 and the M25 I started to feel that something quite disturbing was going on. My dream, or at least that part of it that I could remember, had been unbelievably dull. It was, in fact, more than dull, it was completely devoid of any emphasis or colour whatsoever.


My understanding was that while dreams will freely borrow from everyday life they do so to make a point and in making the point they will transform any number of characteristics of the original scene so that it is recognisable and mysterious at the same time. This has the effect, sometimes,  of making us ask questions about the possible meaning of the episode.


There was no difference between my dreams and my waking life. Somehow my unconscious had suddenly become identical to my everyday mind. Clearly I still had an unconscious because something was producing the images. But I really had no desire to see everything twice.  Furthermore, where had my unconscious gone?


I didn’t feel dramatically different. As far as I could tell I was functioning the same as ever. I tried to remember everything I had read about basic Freudian psychology. Did he ever say anything about losing the need for the unconscious? Was there a situation in which it had done its work and simply faded away? Or maybe had been completely absorbed into consciousness?


If I had actually ingested my unconscious then there must be some way I could test this. The idea of taboo, for example. If I had become one with my inner depths then I would no longer have any taboos. I could, for example, freely imagine my parents having deep penetrative sexual intercourse. Crying out as the relentless pounding went on and on and on through the night.


I realised that in the act of thinking of this possibility I had already allowed it into my mind. What, then,  of the ultimate taboo? The taking of human life. In a deranged and frenzied bloodbath. Indifferent to the screams for mercy, intoxicated with the final freedom, every ounce of my being pouring into a single annihilating deed.


I told myself that merely being able to think of terrible things did not prove that I had somehow become miraculously disinhibited. There was another, quite different explanation available. I had gained wisdom. I knew myself. I was in touch with the deepest layers of my being. I had touched my inner Christ.


If this was the case then I should be able to heal the sick with my touch and perhaps even raise the dead. As I was passing Epping Forest I noticed a dead deer beside the road. I stopped the car. The creature didn’t seem too badly damaged. I ran my hand over its skin and, to my amazement,  it stirred. I was actually appalled.


Rising shakily to its legs the deer turned to me and spoke. Its voice was soft but deep. “David, I shall be eternally grateful. All creatures will be grateful to you. My only wish now is to return to my son Bambi before his grief impacts negatively on his development.” With one graceful leap she was gone.


I knew what I had to do. I ran into the forest and gathered up some nuts and seeds. Soon a blue tit landed on my hand. “Please tell the creatures of the air I have come to dwell among them. Tell the stoats, the fish, the fox, the adder and the vole. Tell them all that I can speak with them as I speak to you.”


After a few days not only did the animals and plants come to me but also brighter, flatter things. I saw paintings from the past,  images from newspapers and books, photos from all over the world. In every case I could simply step into them and walk around. I could feel and smell and taste just as if I were in the forest that was now my home.


It wasn’t that I had absorbed my unconscious. That had been an arrogant and mistaken assumption. I had been absorbed into it. It had flooded through me. I had drowned but I had not died. The animals brought me food. Far way I could hear the roar of traffic but it didn’t disturb me. I had left it all behind.

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