spotlight: In Place of This
from the notes of Dayana S. Stetco:
I am a playwright and a stage director. Sometimes I write fiction and essays. I’m also interested in the art of translation, in that almost-truth translations capture. When I think, I draw – fantastical plants or tunnels, brick walls or ships lost at sea. In Place of This is a book about all these things, grounded in two of my most enduring obsessions: the nature of relationships in a time governed by haste, and my search for an accurate translation of my understanding of theatre as it was practiced in my native country, Romania. When I met S., an American technical director, I found that his views on theatre coincided with my own. We understood theatre as a merciless/merciful art. A contradiction. Over time, In Place of This was assembled from fragments of our conversations, facebook messages, emails, and other texts. This is a book of fragments (a maze) that captures the restlessness of our times perfectly, and ends, appropriately, with a fragment of a play I’m working on now, on the nature of memory and expatriation. I am an expat, a nomad. S. behaves like a lost Templar. This book is a map that shows us both a way out of the labyrinth.
excerpt from In Place of This:
S: The trouble with this burg is there are no bluffs, the kind with a missing section of guardrail where a man can spin out of control. No crag. No tree where I can wait and watch. Yet, even at sea level, a man can still find a ledge.
D: You spin out of control. You’re still spinning. Are you ok?
S: I’m fine. What I am about to confess might sound like I’m in need of help. I probably am. But while I’m entertaining thoughts of my demise, I am committed to the story of my life, come what may. Come what may, preferably, will be quietly in my sleep, many years from now. In service to others would be my second choice. I have saved three people from drowning, each incident separated by a number of years. I didn’t think about myself or glory when I jumped in. I saw someone in need and jumped. Over the years, I’ve had several encounters with death. My memory has plenty of scars. I lie to myself and say I wouldn’t have it any other way.
D: But why lie to me?
S: This is my entry. Are you allowed to intrude?
D: These are the plays that I would like to direct before I die: Dürrenmatt’s The Physicists (or The Visit); Camus’ Misunderstanding; Pirandello’s Enrico IV (or Six Characters in Search of An Author); Sartre’s Huis Clos; Frisch’s Don Juan, Or the Love of Geometry; Pinter’s Dwarfs; Stoppard’s Ros and Guil Are Dead; and most of all, Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real. These are the novels I would like to adapt for the stage: Camus, The Plague; Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita; Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, Flaubert, Madame Bovary. The stories that shaped the world. The stories that shaped me. Everything is psychosomatic. Everything is autobiography.
advance praise for In Place of This:
"Stetco and Miller's In Place of This is tragically beautiful, inhabiting the flux of desire and its relation to theatre as fevered as a heartbeat. The devastatingly candid explorations of theatre as a space of refuge against particularly harrowing political climates reveal the necessity of impassioned collaborations as a fundamental impulse behind the most vital works of art. This book is so urgent and alive with passion and insight; it has the power to rouse the deadest and deadliest among us."
– Rebbecca Brown, author of They Become Her