(Designs shown below the text description of the piece)
Things of Darkness A movement piece by Ludmila Babenkova
A black painted stage, dimly lit. A white screen made of drapes or paper, lit from behind.
SR lies a man, surrounded by strange objects. He and the objects are covered with white dust as though half buried in sand.
UC is a huge painting with pieces of mirror embedded in the paint. In front of the painting, close to it, as if she is the artist or a part of the canvas, or both, is a woman in a costume also covered in mirrors and paint. She works with the painting, taking mirrors from her costume and affixing them to the painted canvas.
SL is a large pyramid-shaped pile of rope and crushed white paper. Unseen beneath it is a woman in a white costume decorated with bits of rope, matching the pile.
UL&R are the shadows of two other people to either side of the painting, behind the screen.
Shadow 1: “Black Hole,” a woman in a voluminous drape of black, entirely covering the face and body, and with a train of more black. When the woman grasps the train to move, her arm (with a long stick extension) makes a circle with the train like a black ring.
Shadow 2: “Man in Black,” a man wearing a black top hat, tie and tails, glasses, gloves, shirt, shoes, etc, all black. He carries a large old fashioned black umbrella, with large gold bells attached to the edges. It is closed.
Lights up on SL woman. SL woman begins to emerge. She struggles under her pile of ropes, and dances her way free of them. Her dance speaks of how she was born of these ropes, how she struggled to be free of her problems, and how she found her rebirth. In the pile of debris, she finds a fire flower, a symbol of her rebirth, and she then takes it toward the UC woman in slow motion.
Lights up on SR man. He begins in white, with white objects. As his character progresses, he and they become colored, using projections of different colored costumes and objects that transform him and them from dull sameness, to rainbow diversity. After his transfiguration, he too heads towards UC woman.
Lights up UC, where the Rope woman and Projection man encounter the woman in the mirror costume. UC woman begins with a shell of her mirror costume, rope shoes, and B&W makeup. At first the two are attracted by her mirrors, then they aid her in shedding the mirror costume like a shell. A fire flower costume is revealed beneath. The two freeze in place, as the fire flower does her dance of the birth of fire, and its cleansing power.
As the dance comes to a close the two shadow figures come through the screen with a great noisy crashing sound. Slowly the “Black Hole” woman beckons the three transformed people to come through the black hole’s ring into the other world behind the screen. As they do so the sound of rain is heard. The man in black opens his umbrella. The three exit to the other world as the lights dim, and the stage is again engulfed in darkness.
Photo of Fire Flower, The Fire Flower was made from Russian type nylon window screening, dyed and painted, sewn to an old swimsuit, and to sleeves made from a pair of run nylons with painted flames on it. No wiring was necessary to make the flames stay upright.
Note: The Fire Flower was intended to emerge out of a mirror costume created by Milla Kalen, seen at her site.
Rendering for changes to be incorporated into the costume for The Woman in Paper, previously made and designed by Milla Kalen. As the performance developed in rehearsals, the Woman in Paper came to symbolize different things, but Milla had already moved to Alaska by then, so I was called in to alter the two completed designs, and design the rest of the show. Here is the costume as designed by Milla before the changes