Tara RebeleTara Rebele

Working Note

“Balance” represents a reversal of my usual composition process. A performance artist working with text, I typically write off the page. “Balance” is structured as a dramatic piece, yet it is written for the page.

Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s The Pink Guitar served as an inspiration for the piece. I was trying to stick to task on an academic essay I was writing, but The Pink Guitar beckoned and I indulged and delighted and sidetracked. Finally, down to the wire, I set about writing. I opened “Document1” and nothing happened. I opened “Document2” hoping for better. Clicked back and forth between blank pages. Maybe if I just write a little bit of performance text ... Maybe if I just get this essay out of the way I can ... Document1. Document2. Document3, and “Balance” emerged. Not an essay, not a performance text, the piece is layered with different textures, all of which in some way deal with the central theme of balance in the life of a woman artist and including elements that would have been in the essay—i.e., the location of self in performance/performance in everyday life.

B                                                                      e

            a                                              c

                        l                       n





                                                                 : An Act

bal·ance n.

A weighing device, especially one consisting of a rigid beam horizontally suspended by a low-friction support at its center, with identical weighing pans hung at either end, one of which holds an unknown weight while the effective weight in the other is increased by known amounts until the beam is level and motionless.

A state of equilibrium or parity characterized by cancellation of all forces by equal opposing forces.

act n.

The process of doing or performing something.

One of the major divisions of a play or opera.

Scene One:

Curtains open to reveal the actor immersed in study. She is generating many ideas in response to her readings (she has yet to implement these ideas). She moves from her computer into a small room. Disrobes, scrutinizes her naked form in a full-length mirror. Paints her middle. Snaps a Polaroid. She is intensely focused on her body image. She wished she had better child care arrangements. She wears several hats, practical and not, fitted and not, and does not know whether this style “works” for her. She returns to computer. Stares at blank screen. She is not. She is not Not. Quit. Save Document1? Don’t save. She cannot be not as she would like, but regains some connection before... Lights fade.

[v. 2.To be equal or equivalent.]
[v. intr. 5. To appear or seem to be]

Balance does not imply equity. I do not know this yet. I struggle. I breathe incompetent. Swallow it whole. Deflate. Why cannot I?

I am moving. Fast. Forward. Fast forward. How have I gotten here? Where have I been? Did I like it there? Was it wonderful? Why did I go? And so soon.

My arms are tired. My child grows heavy. And these books.

Tipping the scales. Tip tip tipping. What weighs what today? What if I added a few more pages/Polaroids/theories/histories/ideas/hugs and peanut butter sandwiches? Then what?

Continue. Assume.

Scene Two:

Lights up. Actor is busy doing mundane but necessary actor things. Actor falls down. Actor stands up elsewhere. Her navel no longer minds. Actor fuses. Actor becomes actor. Actor becomes new actor, too. Lights fade.

[v. 9 To move toward and then away from]
[v. intr. 2. To perform in a dramatic role or roles.]

Balance does not imply equity. I say this empty. I do not know this yet. How does?

When what is cast is not as its potential. There may be rain. And wine. And waking followed by sleep.

Tired turns numb turns ache turns tension turns over in the night and over.

I throw many plates that do not hover horizontal. As I will.

Proceed to miss.

Scene Three:

Lights up. Actor points her finger. Actor withdraws the motion. Actor trips over items soft and cuddly and ponders transformation. As an art. Actor dismisses her gut. Actor is not Not and is not and is not always actor. Actor is enigma to actor. Actor seeks actor and invisible children, asleep on the couch. Actor administers medicine and purple songs. And reads thick books and tells the same stories many times and sometimes fails or falls or both. Lights fade.

[n. 8.The difference in magnitude between opposing forces or influences.]
[v. 8.To serve or function as a substitute for another]

Balance does not imply equity. I seem to be... something. Other. An. Other. Who will?

But the road has washed and the water. Still. Spill. Erratic. Many drifts and moons and mornings spent.

What does it mean to abandon? The center so soft and round and negligible and brown. Burns and ceases to.

There is a something. That tingles before eaten and saved and fat for later needs. Later when later is allowed or available. Or not tied up with the bulging hamper and too risen loaves.

Red. Green. At once. At. Once.

Scene Four:

Actor hops a plane. Going to act. At acting. And finds ginger ale and five minutes. To exhale. Step into actor and onto and in front of and again and again only different each time. And sometimes the transvestite steps in to adjust the mic. And this helps. And the actor is tired and believes it ironic. At least now. And matter of fact replaces hey check this out and the actor does not seem to notice. The actor acts. At acting. And begins to consider. Lights fade.

[n. 6. A harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or elements]
[v. tr. 3. b.To behave in a manner suitable for.]

Balance does not imply equity. Know. And tomorrow. And maybe.

Two parts. One part. Boil vigorously. Reduce heat. Cover. Simmer. Feed to dog. Or casual acquaintances. Watch for reaction. Mulch remainder. When applicable.

Night happens on the days it grows dark. And the limbs don’t seem bothered. Anymore. Less. By the.

Linger. Longer. Progress. (In) Balance.

Scene Five:

Actor emerges downstage right. She has traveled many miles in shallow water. She considers her course. Dives. Pushes. Little bubbles escape her nose and rush to the surface to burst. Lights fade. Curtain drops.

The power or means to decide.

Bio: Tara Rebele is a performance artist living in Athens, GA. She has performed her work recently in San Francisco, Seattle, Milwaukee, Boston, New Hampshire, Atlanta, and Athens, among other places. Her one-act play “Anon Salon” was performed at The Silver Cultural Arts Center in New Hampshire, and the text of her performance piece “Vice Versa” was published by Slope (# 7). She presented the performance piece “Be Remain Become” for the Exponent:Women/Art/Power Show at Clayton Street Gallery in Athens in February 2001, and she recently finished a tour of “And I’m Not Jenny,” a series of monologues narrated by women who are not Jenny talking about their experiences not being Jenny (audio and visual samples can be found at www.tararebele.com). Rebele is currently in production on her work in progress, “In Penumbral Flats,” a multimedia performance piece that explores the cycles/seasons of manic depression.

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