Sunday, December 11, 2005

Documentation of A Ble Wail Reenactment

November 1: Rehearsal starts. I have used pictures from The Dream of the Audience as starting points.
November 17 - 18: Shopping for fabric.
November 22: Making costume and props: white dress, white ribbon, red and black ribbons and white screen.
December 9: Reenactment A Ble Wail Room 636 at 9pm Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.

I have been wondering about the title A Ble Wail.

Dictionary defines: -ble from Latin a suffix meaning result of the act of, means of, place for. A Ble Wail can be comprehended as result of the act of wail, means of wail and place for wail. Also A Ble can be read as Able, and Able means a suffix that forms adjectives meaning to have enough power, skill, or means to do something. So, A Ble Wail can be interpreted as to have enough power, skill and means to wail.

What was Cha wailing for?

I went to the undergraduate costume department in order to ask to use one of their sewing machines for my project and they were kind enough to lend me one. While I was making the costumes and props (the white dress, white ribbon around the head, the white screen, red and black narrow ribbons) I recognized something about white, the whiteness was strong in Cha’s work. In another of Cha’s performance, Aveugle Voix (1975), the white costume and props were noticeable. What does “white” mean to Cha? It seems to relate to the wailing.

In Modernity, Legality, and Power in Korea under Japanese Rule, Lee writes that Korean costumes have been banned during Japanese colonization and Koreans have been forced to wear colored clothing instead of Korea’s traditional white clothing (39). It may be Cha was returning to and recovering her Korean-ness by wearing white.

Was she wailing for erased Korean-ness during Japanese colonization? Or her silenced Korean-ness while living in America? Maybe both. She was probably wailing for how history repeats itself.

I wailed for her unacceptable death. From the beginning of the rehearsal her death haunted me.
Her death rendered me helpless. Reading reports from Belle Randall, The Random Murder of Theresa Cha, I could follow the time before her death.

She was turning thirty-one at the time in 1982. Graduated from Berkeley University with a BA and MFA and newly married to photographer Richard Barnes they moved to New York. Dictee was just about to be published. On November 5th 1982 at 4:30 pm Cha left the Metropolitan Museum of Art where she worked. She was going to meet her husband at his office. On the way she dropped by a gallery to chat with the owner who was the last to see Cha alive. Before dark Cha left the gallery and headed to her husband’s basement office.

Richard Barnes waited for Cha until 7 and by 10 he set out to find her. At 3 am he went to the police station to report her missing only to identify her body at the morgue. Joey Sanza, a security guard at Barnes’ office was identified as the murderer. He had officially 3 previous rapes in Florida and 12 according to the press. Cha’s corpse was dumped in the parking lot ten minutes from Barnes office as he waited for her. She was found naked except the belt and scarf around her neck and one boot. I couldn’t bear to imagine the lost time between 5 pm and 12 am. What had happened in those 7 hours became too far to reach and too hurtful to imagine.

Cha mentioned that in A Ble Wail “I want to be the dream of the audience” (Cha quo. from Constance). The screen may be effective for the dream. Something real is happening not in front of me but behind the screen so even though it is present it is filtered and distant. As a performer the screen gave me an enormous safety. Performing inside the screen I felt a tremendous freedom not as an escape from life but rather a revolutionary revelation.