Review: Selected Verses from in within over under beneath Therapy by Matter.less (or “I Sat”)

(Preface: when I was asked to review this, I initially felt like my response to the show would have to be measured. Targeted. Each carefully crafted word and paragraph would have to say something measured, careful and significant about each part of Selected Verses. I wanted to honour the issues, individuals, characters and themes explored, and I thought to do that, structure was paramount.

But after hearing about how the show was curated and its nebulous process of creation, staging, and many iterations of chaotic additions & subtractions, I realised that the essence of each piece and of the show couldn’t live in such careful and measured responses. The aspect of mental health that always resonated the most with me was how it resisted the imposition of structure; how, despite our attempts to categorise it and name it, our individual and collective experiences of it will undoubtedly be incomprehensible and unexplainable to another.

I realised that as much as I wanted to think about my response, the truth of my own personal response and how I truly wanted to respond to it did not lie in structure, in grammar, in the logic of how words and sentences flowed. It lay in emotions, in the paradoxes we grapple with, in the answers that we can never find, and in the world of the unknown that overlapped across all of our beings: in logos, pathos and ethos.

For whoever reads this, I want you to read this with the knowledge that I sat through 8 different pieces, divided into 4 in the early afternoon and 4 in the late afternoon, and know that this response/these responses were my physical and emotional responses to the work of these beautiful artists, transcribed into language, as I sat there, in that same chair, for 2 consecutive shows. It was tiring yet illuminating. I have done my best within the limits of language to attempt to articulate how I felt.)

Prologue

Death knows no want

it knows no need.

Its brother and lover wait at the gates;

The gates of Hel, its wolves of war, snarling still.

Our affair with this demon begins with moans

and ends in screams

It beguiles the dim-witted, the ken of the wise and the foolish

Alike.

It carries us through the madness of nine realms

it releases our burdens via unknown artifice

It begs us not for our attention,

for it has us in its throes, already still

Still and cold, as all denizens of Death are.

Obsession; the brother, the whore, the demon

it has many names

But it reduces us to shreds

To boxes and cubes and ill-begotten games.

Why games, you ask

For we play and entertain our fantasy notion

That Obsession serves us

but who serves the servers?

Weak; castrated; corrupted; incessant, insufferable; incurable; insane; insatiable; improvement-less; in arrogance; imbecile; whore.

I must have

Obsession

I must have

Death.

Mesologue

I waited.

I waited at the crossing, at the intersection, at the road that forked into a thousand paths, but still he did not come.

I open at the close.

Death does not come for those who incessantly wait at the gates of Hel.

Sometimes, when asked, we say that we do not wait.

But our obsessions, our choices, our non-choices, are our least redeeming qualities.

We wrestle with demons, at our own behest, we heed the voices of screams that tell us lies, that tell us this pain is right. That it is just.

But truly, truly, who is your master?

Who is your lord?

“My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?”

Epilogue: Journeys End, Journey’s Yes (JY)

/ˈɛpɪlɒɡ/; noun

a section or speech at the end of a book or play that serves as a comment on or a conclusion to what has happened.

(an epilogue also sometimes serves to give a nicer ending to the book than how it actually ended, to wrap things up and, in my opinion, give some form of closure to the reader who has journeyed through this world.)

“Our greatest fears lie in never giving up”

with tear-stained eyes I sat

I watched

The old winds whispered

the wide waters brewed

and the wind blew– what?

Like the calmness of Change

rushing over you

like the winds of change that blow away

Blow, blow, blow away

what rankles you

stifles you

imprisons you

gives you cause to cry

to not cry

to sing

not to sing

so I watched

and I waited

I waited to hear your cry of

love

of peace

of the sound of your voice

and your violet, tear-stained eyes

As I waited for them to tell me

My sojourn was over.

But journeymen lie

They always do

for they are the First

They were always the first

to sojourn, to begin

To begin the search for tear-stained eyes

And violet and amethyst and every jewel around

They begin with lies

and end in violet

And journeymen lie

They always do

And so journeys never end

With the Journeyman’s yes

Selected Verses from in within over under beneath Therapy was a collection of performances derived from the Matter.less “re: Verse” experimental series, featuring spoken word, short film, puppetry and movement. It delved into spaces beyond the therapy room, experimenting with how mental health issues can be represented on stage. It also gathered 2 collections of 4 short performances each, conceptualised and written by local emerging artists, and tackled the question of “What happens when mental health issues spill out of the therapy chair?”

Matter.Less is a bilingual interdisciplinary arts collective of young artists, founded in 2018 with the aim of literary experimentation and adaptation. Their work has since expanded to broadly theatrical and multimedia productions with a focus on text-based elements, including 5 editions of “re: Verse” experimental performances that featured spoken word, short film, puppetry and movement.

Selected Verses ran from 27th — 28th August 2022, at the Goodman Arts Centre, Blk O. For more information on Matter.less and Selected Verses, you can follow them on their Instagram page here.

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A communicator at heart; a manager at hand, but always the speaker of the truth for those who cannot.

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Philippe Pang

Philippe Pang

A communicator at heart; a manager at hand, but always the speaker of the truth for those who cannot.