Based on the play “The Pose of a Mountain” by the artist and writer Paulina Pukytė, “Scylla Wants to Be a Human” is a multimedia theatre project that uses absurdity and satire to show human interaction as “brainwashing” each other. In contemporary postmodern language, it disassembles the restrictive stereotypes that support gender inequality and other conservative “traditions”, as well as the position of women in a patriarchal, sexist world. The characters in the play are well-known from antiquity; they bring all their cultural baggage into a contemporary context.
From the myth of the ship-sinking monsters, there is Scylla, who feels trapped in her “mountain asana”. She no longer wants to be immobile as a rock with only that one purpose, albeit a powerful one. Scylla longs to be human (an allusion to the title of the classic Lithuanian film “Adam Wants to Be Human”). But what does it mean to be human? What does it take to become human? What are the risks? Scylla starts in the traditional way, with a visit to the “life coach”, Circe. Odysseus, who passes by, and Homer, the “storyteller”, also offer their “wisdom”, but is it what Scylla needs?
During the lockdown, director Gabrielė Tuminaitė, with the help of video artist Aneta Bublytė and cinematographer Eitvydas Doškus, and using this play, started to explore the differences and similarities between cinema and theatre, experimenting with the possibilities of a hybrid form. According to G. Tuminaitė, conceptual Pukytė’s texts are particularly suitable for such multimedia theatre.
“This absurdist feminist play is typical of the author; it is unconventional and specific in its form, full of cultural references, and so working with this material requires a great deal of brain-twisting,” says G. Tuminaitė. The human environment (its reaction and comments) is important here, as the text of the play is constructed from the “garbage” of language that surrounds us. The comments and opinions of those around us obscure the creative impulse and poetic expression, threaten to drown it, and vulgarise it. The question asked here is: is it easy and even possible to be human in such an environment, let alone create? Is this what Scylla hoped for when she decided to transform herself from a mountain-monster into a human-poet?
In her directorial work, G. Tuminaitė draws inspiration from the American “performing for camera” tradition from the 1960s and 1970s, “vintage” televised theatre, and film noir aesthetics that she brings to the stage. This fusion of film and theatre explores the constant change and constant repetition of everything, as well as the importance of perspective. The same characters, appearing live on stage, interact with themselves in the film (with their past or with their self-image?). On stage, they are different; they have changed. But is it just an illusion, and are they still essentially the same? The image becomes apocalyptic, prophetic, and perhaps a warning. Or is it just the way it seems to us? Where is reality – here or there?