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T A S 0 L*

A 10-min performance piece

© 1994 Vladimir J. Kone─Źni


*"Tasol" = "That's all" = "Only" = "The Only Thing" = "All there is" (in the lingua franca of Papua New Guinea).



         [Six actors are seated in a semi-circle, somehow oriented toward each other in an irregular pattern. The audience is at the open end of the semi-circle. The actors are all nondescript adults; beyond that their characteristics are irrelevant. Uniformity along any descriptive dimension should be neither emphasized, nor broken at all costs. No one speaks throughout. No one moves throughout, except to suport the vocalizations described below. The actors' demeanor must never be agitated, let alone frantic. They calmly accept their fate. The light, the set — minimal, if any — must be placid.

         The piece should be treated as a musical composition, performed a cappella by a six-person choir, for the voluntary (chuckles, laughs) and involuntary (sneezes, coughs) products of the nose, mouth, and respiratory system. One possible directorial decision would be to include a conductor and have the actors read from a score.]

Time 0 - 2'30"

         After the audience hushes itself, there is 15-20" of total silence and immobility. Then, an actor sneezes. Silence for 4-5". Another actor sneezes. Silence for 3-4". Yet another actor sneezes. Silence for 2-3". Two other actors sneeze simultaneously. Longish silence.

         The next 1'50" consist of irregularly spaced sneezing. All of the actors do it. The sequence, intensity, and simultaneity are unpredictable. However, the frequency and intensity of sneezing gradually build to a crescendo at about 1 '30", then diminish for 30".

         During this half-a-minute, the first 3-4 chuckles occur, emitted by different actors.

Time 2'30" - 4'30"

         As sneezes decrease in frequency, then disappear altogether in the first 15-20" of this period, the number of chuckles increases gradually, but unpredictably, distributed over all the actors. The peak of chuckling is reached at about 4'00", after which they become more sporadic during the next 30".

         During this 30", the first 3-4 laughs occur.

Time 4'30" - 6'30"

         The frequency, intensity, distribution, and simultaneity pattern described for the previous period is roughly repeated. Now the chuckles gradually disappear, whereas the laughs increase in number, loudness, duration, and variety until a side-splitting cacophony is reached at about 6'00".

         In the next 30", the laughs diminish. The first 3-4 coughs are heard.

Time 6'30" - 9'30"

         In the first minute of this, longer, "movement", the coughs increase, the laughs decrease and disappear. A few subtle, distant sneezes and chuckles are heard, like fragments of long-forgotten airs heard in childhood. After the 7'30", only the coughs remain. The coughing intensifies in every conceivable aspect until a vicious, choking, wheezing, lung-rending, blood-spitting riot of respiratory torture is reached at 9'30".

Time 9'30": At exactly the same instant, all six actors die. Some remain seated, but with broken necks as if from karate chops, others crash urgently, noisily. Their suffering is over.

         A couple of paramedics walk in with a stretcher. On the canvas is painted "TASOL".

         Lights out.

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©2003 Vladimir J. Konečni | contact