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The main character of Milja Sarkola’s play Something Different is a Woman, a theatre director who is working on a play featuring material from her personal sexual history. The Woman’s brother and her spouse, the Different Woman, comment on her artistic choices in real time, remarking on what she decides to tell and how. The Woman’s public workspace is intermittently invaded when the spouse wants the Woman to interrupt not only her play, but also their relationship and family life.
The work is divided into two levels: the presenting of sexual desire on the inner stage, and the continuous, open self-reflection of the main character and her loved ones, which takes place outside this stage. These two stages engage in a conversation about the various natures of public and private space.
The play operates at meta-levels: events are presented as transparent, and the audience is offered numerous perspectives on one character who is capable of observing herself and allowing alienation. The stage of desire is both symbolic and literal.
Under the Woman’s direction, what happens on the stage focuses on a broad range of fantasies and different objects of desire, past, present, and future. The conversation taking place on the theatre stage exposes the play’s internal commentary on what types of presenting desire are culturally allowed for a woman, and what happens to the communication taking place in a monogamous relationship when the “promise” that desire will be targeted solely at one’s companion is broken. The play thus ponders a long-term relationship in contrast to passionate infatuations: “I could love so many lives, with you only one.“
How about I tell about how we met?
Fine. We’ll pretend it’s sacred.
We don’t have to pretend anything.
No, I know, I was just kidding. Trying to be self-deprecating about my confessional nature and openness.
I don’t want you to start telling about when we first got together in the name of narrative equality, how we ended up together. Just because you think you owe it to me.
I wouldn’t -
And don’t make me out to be some saint either! Some noble spouse who’s selfless and long-suffering and always accommodating. I hate having that role in your life. The person who –
OK, now I can tell you’re really hurt about something again -
- waits at home with the girls and who it’s safe to come home and snuggle up to after a party. I hate feeling that way! That that’s all I am to you. Is the only reason you’re not cheating on me that you haven’t come across any takers yet? Is the only reason you’re still with me that I’m a convenient babysitter for the kids while you’re at work? Just because it’s practical?
No. Why are you so hurt?
And I refuse to take on this role too! The role that here, at the end of Act I, I start lurching up here on stage and bellowing out truths into the audience, defending and laying out my own perspective! Some “different” perspective! Some ”different” woman’s perspective! Some “now the spouse blew her lid and is finally talking” monologue!
So if you still see my character still lurching up here during the second intermission, begging for sex or doing anything else humiliating, it was all written by that Woman, all of it! This is all her perspective! This entire project is humiliating and dubious, and I have no intention of watching the pile of shit. Fuck, and this too, what I just said was totally… untrue. I’m not really against this. I mean it, seriously. I’m supportive, and I listen, and I understand. Of course I understand, it’s her art, of course I understand. I’m an intelligent woman, after all. And this invented outburst of mine up here, this is also just HER guilt and fear and imaginings about me.
She doesn’t really convey my thoughts. Ever. At all. It’s not possible. She should give it up, since she’ll never be able to. Give it up already. Can you let me shut up now and get out of here? Thank you.
Excerpt translated by Kristian London
Agency North Ltd