Storm Room, or, Participatory Theater with Moms

Fiction / Megan Milks

:: Storm Room, or, Participatory Theater with Moms ::

PARTICIPANTS will enter one by one and form a line against the front cur­tain. Pos­ture, pos­ture. Face the audi­ence. Face your scripts.

You are our MOTHERS. Your job is to love us.

MOTHERS (nod): We do.

You will splash birth on the stage, shove this cord up your anus­es. We take one end in our mouths.

We suck. We should be grate­ful. We’re not. We nev­er want­ed moth­ers at all but HEROES WHO LIFT CARS TO SAVE US.

MOTHERS: We are not your moth­ers.

Every­one is our moth­ers. You are our moth­ers, too. Hug, hug, kissylips. Cur­tain lifts.

*

FIRST ROOM, CENTER ROOM: STORM ROOM

We have learned through cor­rec­tion that the sun­room is not the storm room. Sun­rooms have win­dows. Storm rooms do not. You called the sun­room the storm room. You gave us the wrong name.

Now we’re the storm room. We storm and storm.

The GIRL IN THE WELL WITH HAIR. The ABANDONED GIRL. The LEFT FOR DEAD GIRL. The SHADOW GIRL. The BELOVED GIRL. THE BELOVED DAUGHTER. The UNGIRL. The NOT-YOU, the NOT-YOU.

All skip­ping around THE MOTHERS. A storm.

We sing. The cockaroach is the cock­roach. The dirtyp­il­lows are tits. The cat­ten is the kit­ten. Brown­ies are not blonde. You are our moth­ers. We don’t know how to speak. How to find a word or mean a thing. How to be rich.

*

SECOND ROOM: BATHROOM

MOTHERS you will take off our shirts and under­pants and lift us into the tub. Lift strong like HEROES WHO LIFT CARS.

We will be curi­ous as we set­tle in. We will have real­iza­tion. Splash. The bath water is like the toi­let water. We will try it. Push.

MOTHERS: Fish out our shit. Then say yes. There are log­i­cal rea­sons to do that. We are not wrong. This is love. What you are doing. Thanks.

The GOOD MOTHER, the BAD MOTHER, the EARTH MOTHER, the MOM, the SLUT MOTHER, the DEAD MOTHER, the GOD MOTHER, the MOM.

Go on. Mur­mur among your­selves.

We sing. How to have a body. How to cud­dle on the couch. How to move away. How to have an argu­ment. How to make sense. How to make doilies. How to use the inter­net to learn how to make doilies.

*

THIRD ROOM: FAMILY ROOM

We are look­ing at our reflec­tion in the tele­vi­sion. Suck in our gut it’s flat.

THE MOTHERS: (You will not make a com­ment on our body at this moment. You will not.)

MOTHERS: But you’d be so pret­ty if

Stop. We are so pret­ty. We are pret­ty girls.
No we are not; we are man­nish, and men, aliens and mon­sters and mur­der­ers.
You will exam­ine our faces and gloat at our lit­tle chin hairs. No you won’t.

*

How to bang our heads against the wall. How to speak on the body it’s ours. How to sew up our words they’re ours. How to take a dis­mem­ber­ment jour­ney. How to choose an ax.

*

FOURTH ROOM: SAD

There will come a time of sad­ness. Our fever will burn us deep­er than we will ever show to you.

MOTHERS: We under­stand.

You’ll nev­er under­stand. We don’t know what to believe in.

MOTHERS: We don’t know who you are. You’re weird.

Ha. Admit it you’re lying about you love us no mat­ter what. You’re lying about you’ll nev­er stop lov­ing.

MOTHERS: No. It’s true we love you no mat­ter what. We love you even now you flash blades before us.

Love is a drug not words you say before knives. Con­flict is inevitable. Vio­lence is not. Stick to the script please. Please.

*

How to sur­vive in neo-cap­i­tal­ist Amer­i­ca. How to be enough. How to read Freud. How to pack a box or punch. How to be right. How to con­vince oth­ers that we are right. How to be butch. How to stop gig­gling.

*

THIRD ROOM: FAMILY ROOM (REDO)

MOTHERS: You look fan­tas­tic. Every­thing you ever look like, fan­tas­tic. You are a star. An apple. A bon mot. You are right, you have always been right and nev­er wrong.

You’re wrong. We are some­times wrong. It’s okay to be some­times wrong.

Let’s try it again, from the top.

*

TALKBACK

What did we just act out?
What did it feel like to be our moth­ers?
Why do you say that?
How are we healed?

 

 

From the writer

:: Account ::

I’ve writ­ten a few sto­ries where father fig­ures fig­ure father­ly. I mean promi­nent­ly. With “Storm Room,” I want­ed to bal­ance it out, like Ali­son Bechdel—but this isn’t mem­oir. I was inter­est­ed in lit­er­al­iz­ing a Freudi­an stage, which turned into a per­vert­ed form of faux-par­tic­i­pa­to­ry the­atre, an oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore the trans­for­ma­tive pow­er of reen­act­ment. At the 2013 &NOW fes­ti­val in Boul­der, I attend­ed a pan­el on moth­er fig­ures, which Chris­tine Wertheim intro­duced by dis­cussing moth­er-daugh­ter plots and the rel­a­tive absence of mater­nal per­spec­tives. Here, the child’s per­spec­tive gov­erns. But these roles are both bina­ry and flu­id. Even as we are all hurt, not-enough chil­dren, we are all moth­ers, too (moth­er as both a fem­i­nine and uni­ver­sal/­gen­der-neu­tral term), enlisted—sometimes invol­un­tar­i­ly, like these unwit­ting participants—in the care, val­i­da­tion, and edu­ca­tion of oth­ers (and our­selves).

 

Megan Milks is the author of Kill Mar­guerite and Oth­er Sto­ries (Emer­gency Press, 2014) and the chap­book Twins (Birds of Lace, 2012), which enlists the Sweet Val­ley Twins in a choose your own adven­ture. Her fic­tion has been pub­lished in three vol­umes of inno­v­a­tive writ­ing as well as many jour­nals. She is co-edi­tor of the vol­ume Asex­u­al­i­ties: Fem­i­nist and Queer Per­spec­tives (Rout­ledge, 2014) and edi­tor of The &NOW Awards 3: The Best Inno­v­a­tive Writ­ing, 2011–2013. She teach­es cre­ative writ­ing, jour­nal­ism, and lit­er­a­ture at Beloit Col­lege.