Film ‘Broken Speech’ by Tony Diamanti: A strong and clear voice.

photo-7Tony Diamanti speaks through a digital and human intermediary. He himself taps on a keyboard with a extension hung from his head like the lamp of a lamp fish. Figuratively speaking the extension illuminates his thoughts, but instead of functioning as a lure to gobble up other fish, Diamanti uses his interrupted voice to establish a connection with others that leads to an uncovering, a construction of himself as a living and visible man. The connection means a choice between existing and oblivion, because,”at first people don’t see me at all. I’m invisible.” His lamp does draw people in, “Their curiosity keeps [me] alive.”

“Don’t shy away,” would be the first words, Diamanti says, that he would utter if he could use his own voice box.photo-8

On stage, in a two man play, a third person carries his voice loud and smoothly and quickly. Because we recognize our own thoughts in his’, we connect with Diamanti. Is it his thoughts or does the third person’s voice connect us to him directly. Do we stop seeing his disability? Or do we finally just see him? Is it problematic that we connect to Diamanti more fully when his speech is like our own? Or is it our initial unfamiliarity with this particular form of speech that shapes the gap between him and us and is it our growing familiarity that gradually allows us to hear him as the person he is? Does the increasing familiarity mean that the play is about him or maybe turns into a play about him? Is it about us accepting a representation of Diamanti that is real or a representation of a person Diamanti wants us to see? This is an important question. This question follows, I think, directly from the earlier thoughts about representation, and is one that we ask of every actor, every memoirist, everyone who talks about themselves.

Ultimately then we see Diamanti as an actor.

It takes us longer, the first time. Our brain goes through the interrupted speech slowly, then faster, and ends up allowing the intermediate stops to completely disappear.

Diamanti calls this process ‘the politics of representation’. He insists, “Don’t just hear my words, listen to them, then see me. If you see me first, you might not listen to me.” He is wrong. We see him alright. And we want to hear more.

Human Writes by Jan Derbyshire.

“One of the saddest things in life is that we have this alphabet, 26 letters in spoken english, we have this alphabet and we are afraid to use it,” Jan Derbyshire starts the workshop with a piece of white paper and the letters of the alphabet.

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She adds ‘mind, rearrange and BEGIN’ to the board and leads the group through three rounds of spoken words. First Derbyshire asks them to hold a squooshy ball and describe what they can pretend it is. Then she asks them to give it a funny voice and let it say something… anything.

The third round has people talking about what drives them mad. And that is what they start writing about. The thing that makes it easier to write for ten minutes without stopping and without allowing the editor from within to stop your voice from appearing on paper is that you are not writing from your own point of view. You keep that quiet. You write from the point of view of an object in your house that you have identified earlier. For some it is a stick, for others it is flowers or a part of their wheelchair.

The continuous writing proves to be cathartic. The group feels safe enough for people to be angry, to cry and to be funny about very private things. Derbyshire explains that in a longer workshop she would help the writers put together from the pages of unfinished sentences, cut-off words and a dearth of punctuation, a monologue that can be performed or read in quiet. Something to show that we can all write.

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Something to show that when you silence the editor within and write out your thoughts without hesitation, that when you throw 90 percent away, what is left is something that you haven’t said before or not in that particular way and that it will be something that connects people to yourself. Something that will stick people to you like the sticky papers a different group stuck to the floor in the earlier workshop; the workshop about what connects people to each other. These fresh thoughts compel the listener to immerse themselves in the world that the writer’s imagination calls forth.