I participated in a very special production directed by Zhang Lidan. The play, Small Mouth Sounds. As its name, we three actors, Joan (played by Meg in the play), Yan (played by Maddie), Judy (played by me), who apprentice in a meditation resort are not allowed to talk. Led by an instructor (played by Maddy), the only talker, we perform quietly in the most peaceful stage. A play take place in silence, imagine how bizarre and beautiful it is! All the importance details are observed through eyes, facial expressions and body language. Though Joan break the rule to communicate with me, I respond with silence. Yet communication was never blocked. This way of expression hits my heart. But before I go on to expression myself in language. Let me introduce the plot to you.
Me, Judy, is a cancer patient, who has three more years to live. Though I am mid-thirties who have a decent job in an international company, I don’t have a clue of my life purpose. Discovering my disease, I decided to join this meditation program in the middle of the mountains to find out my life purposes with my love of life, Joan, who is in her mid-thirties as well. Yes I am also a queer. Joan is a professional in sex education who have clients both in colleges and of her own. She is very supportive to me and decided to face this tragic with me together. Yet under this pool of touching backgrounds, I found out the “intention” of Joan to this meditation trip was to be “free of responsibilities.” Shocked in her will to leave her responsibilities, which means me in my context, I struggled with my own anger and sadness towards her and my self-blame on my cancer. In this struggling love story, Yan, a female foreigner who doesn’t speak English, helped me to walk out my trauma.
In solving our problem, Joan kept explaining and begged for my understanding and forgiveness. Here’s an expert of the play of the scene. You will have a more direct understanding of the situation.
What was I (Judy) thinking, you must wonder? With all that silent, what does it fell like to communicate in silence? What is all these silence about?
Shortly speaking, it felt great! I expressed a lot more than I can actually speak at one moment. This is because I am used to listen and nod and smile that I almost know the language of eye contact. By language it’s both perceiving and expressing. I know how to speak within silence. Look at the plot. Though I (Judy) didn’t speak a word, the powerful position of communicating belongs to me, who can decide to send Joan away. There’s a mocking that when Joan says all the words, she’s actually reflecting on her own, instead of reaching out to me or the problem. Yet when I didn’t speak a word, I’m the one who’s communicating. It’s even more powerful when it comes to performance, because I’m almost contesting for the usual speaker (audiences) to watch me and be quiet and speak this language with me.
It has something to do with the theme of language and expression. Exploring HUM and Davidson as an international student, I am constantly in a deviation from minds and words. It’s not that I don’t speak English. It’s that English sometimes fails me. When I open my mouth, I speak something that doesn’t belong to me, that it’s almost an unnameable lost. This concept was mentioned in Unit 3 by Sarita See, who is a Philippine artist speak for the decolonized groups of people.