'The Body Ophelia'explores the uncharted territory of one of Shakepeares’ most enigmatic characters, mapping the psyche and explorations of Ophelia off the stage, the time and space between her silence and her madness. The piece also explores the case studies of Sigmund Freud and Joseph Breuer from their landmark 'Cases in Hysteria', published in 1893 and seen as crucial in the understanding of the subconscious in the 20th century.
‘The Body Ophelia’attempts to respond to Luce Iriguary, Helene Cixcious, Monique Wittig and Melanie Klein's call for the exploration of the female psyche as a means of bringing subjectivity to the Patriarchy. Ophelia can write her own body, and explore nature, erotica and body memory as powerful healing forces. Finally the piece explores contemporary body/mind displacement, including anorexia and bulimia, especially where it related to Lady Diana Spencer, and the role the popular media played in this depiction.
This script is based on a new media installation performance at the Rex Cramphorn Studio, Sydney Uni Centre of Performance Studies, incorporating sound, video and surveillance monitors. This development explored notions of ‘performing’ the hysteric, as well as the absent body of Ophelia, issues of surveillance and the concept of an empty space to signify Ophelia, a space projected onto and filled with a number of performative and theoretical notions (including romanticism, grunge, sexuality and abuse narratives).
The Body Ophelia installation took place at the Rex Cramphorn Studio of the University of Sydney Centre for Performance Studies in 2003. It was developed with the assistance of a grant from the New Media Fund of the Australia Council for the Arts, as well as support from the Centre of Performance Studies, USyd.
The performers and artists involved in the development included Meme Thorne, Danielle Antaki, Katia Molino and Jenny Leong with director Nikki Heywood. The input of New Media artists Sarah Waterson, Sam James, Jane Ulman and Russel Emerson lead to a group decision that the work would become a site specific installation based piece, with a strong performative component, developed for performance in the studios and theatre at the Performance Space in Redfern.
Writer: Catherine Fargher
Director: Nikki Heywood
Performers: Danielle Antaki, Katia Molino and Jenny Leong
Sound: Jane Ulman
Video: Sam James
Technical support: Russell Emerson
New Media consult: Sarah Waterson
Dramaturg: Laura Ginters
Thanks to Ian Maxwell, Paul Dwyer and Laura Ginters at the USyd CPS and Sue Goldfish, UNSW School of Performance and Dance.
A sad man has lost his ear and his wife in an unfortunate accident with a snappy bull terrier. His wife dead, he tries to live a happy life with his young daughter, but he cannot overcome his craving for a new ear. One day he locates a mysterious scientist, Dr Egg, and is offered a previously unthinkable possibility; Dr Egg can try to grow him a new ear. But first he needs a small piece of flesh from his precious daughter. The man refuses to harm her, but is increasingly tortured by his desire for the ear. He tries, obsessively, to shelter her from any danger. Finally his curious daughter breaks out of this protective shield and finds her way to Dr Egg’s laboratory to give him the flesh herself. Before their very eyes, the ear grows, but it does not stop there. A new life is made. And it looks a lot like her. Should her creation live or die? Dr Egg, the daughter and the sad man are faced with a dilemma.
Dr Egg and the Man with No Ear exposes the moral and ethical dilemmas society faces with the continual quest for improvements in health and fertility. There are now biotechnologies that suggest radical futures for reproduction, food production and health management. We are promised transformation and mutation of nature and human society on a massive scale.
This story is a contemporary moral tale based on the traditional structure of a fable. Historically, fables have explored the place of humans and animals in nature, and how life’s difficulties may be met with cunning, ingenuity, invention, transformation, mutation and sometimes magic or luck. Scientific corporations are making promises for remarkable futures and present day miracles using these same means to meet life’s difficulties. The archetypal structure of the fable gives a solid platform for the exploration of the complex themes. In Dr Egg, the juxtaposition of genuine human desires, and the ethical lines which must be crossed make the story both accessible and relevant.
Dr Egg is one of four contemporary bio-ethical fables developed as part of Catherine’s Doctorate of Creative Arts at Wollongong University, with supervisor Merlinda Bobis. Other titles include Corn Baby, The Woman Who Knitted Herself a Child and The Boy with No Belly-Button.
Colin Sneesby: Dr Egg
Tanya Bosak: Snake Narrator