What's the Catch?
This is a work of spoken word performance art. I think of its script as a Fluxus score and of its performance as a “routine” in the manner of William S. Burroughs. A Fluxus score, like a musical score, is a sort of recipe for a performance but it is not a set of strict instructions. For more information, read The Fluxus Performance Workbook . A Burroughs routine, like a vaudeville routine, is a spoken word performance that is theatrical, improvisational and which changes with each performance.
I’ve performed this routine a few times before: first was on the Ed Schrader Show, then as a featured performer at “Speak Your Piece” with the use of actual telephones telephones, then in Knoxville Tennessee with a larger variety of telephones. With this performance, I was able to add the ability for the old phones to actually ring, along with the use of an overhead projector for added imagery and atmosphere.
My script calls for a single performer although it depicts multiple conversations. A slash mark “/“ indicates a shift from one telephone conversation to the next. These are snippets of a conversation that seems to happen over and over again forever, each time with only slight variation.
There are two sides to the conversations here. The first: things that a telemarketer would say on the telephone, such as “you’re eligible to be entered into our fifty thousand dollar sweepstakes” and/or “how would you like to buy a subscription to TV guide?”. The second: a series of responses, like “what’s the catch?” or “I can’t talk now, I’m busy” or “he isn’t here right now. Can I take a message?”
Instructions for the actor are simple:
- Pick up a ringing telephone. Say part of the script.
- Hang up the telephone.
- Answer another ringing telephone. Say more.
- Hang up, repeat as desired. Use various speed and tone.