The Dissociates takes a darkly comic look at life and death, memory and healing. It is the story of Alex, a 50ish lesbian who finds herself dealing with the aftermath of a recent crisis. Working to repair her garden she tries to assess and reassess, often with broad strokes of gallows humour, how she got where she is. Will the life that Alex remembers prove to be her salvation?
It’s a play about what can happen when we stop listening to ourselves and start pushing away thoughts and feelings that might be too difficult or painful to deal with. It’s a story about a woman choosing to make a decision to let herself feel her story and live her life fully. It’s a play about courage.
Alex is late 40’s early 50’s. Isolated, alone, lonely, funny, wry, self-effacing. She has a facility for language; words come easily and she hides behind them to keep feelings away. She has made choices leading to her current state, and is in denial of just about everything. She has cut off the most interesting aspects of her own character and is living in a kind of stasis, unaware that her life has become small and unrealized.
Roz is late 40’s. Earthy, hard-edged, funny; full of life. pragmatic. She shares Alex’s wry sense of humour and enjoys a good laugh. She is perhaps a little tougher than Alex. She enjoys a good party and a few drinks; likes the bar. She contains Alex’s addict. She is direct. Roz shares some of Irene’s elegance.
Irene is also late 40’s. Intellectual, cool, considered. She is very careful how she presents herself, knowing that alienating herself through behaviour or appearance would not help her cause. She is angry, but it is a cool anger. No displays. She believes the personal is the political, that each of us has a right to be exactly who we are, no apologies, no compromise.
Mary is early 30’s or late 20’s. She is emotion and fluidity, able to switch from sadness to joy easily. She is a peacemaker. There is something just slightly fey about her. Insightful. She may seem soft and easily pushed around but in the centre is a very strong core.
BD is mid twenties. She is searching, she wants a lot out of life; is optimistic and naive. She is also vulnerable and easily hurt. Open.
MAN is comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t pay too much attention to detail, happy to hang out and listen to gossip, He’s not terribly needy or worried about anything; He feels he has no need to improve, he’s fine as he is.
The DOCTOR is kind and sincere. He cares about his work. Occasionally he may go off, say something unskillful or inappropriate, but it is all with the genuine desire to get to the truth and be helpful. It is his humanness and sense of humour that allows ALEX to trust him.
Serene. Exhibits the qualities of the “happy Buddha”. At times involved in what is happening, at other times she comments on it, she is one of Alex’s voices, she is not above the rest, she is with them. She is the voice of spirit, but still human — a calm, gentle non-judging voice. Not preaching.
Produced by Sea Theatre in Vancouver, 2006. Directed by Bill Divine.
The Dissociates is available through the Canadian Play Outlet.
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