Four Plays (Bells, Hieroglyphics of the Night, Fire, Night 1, 2, 3, 4 and Night the combined voices)—Joanna Gunderson/ Paperback/ $12.95/ ISBN—978-0-87376-093-5
The four plays in this collection were written and performed 1994-1997.
Gunderson’s radical approach is to turn the usual relation between subject and object inside out. Using a collage of fragments taken from her memory, she hypnotizes us into a very personal, very musical world until we become an intimate part of it. The result is an experience that can’t be described in rational terms.
Gunderson’s plays take language to a breaking point, and then reassemble it in ways that are both interpretive and generative. Her work, as innovative and challenging for its time as that of Stein and Beckett was for theirs, is haunting and important.
The words, voices, images and sounds of Joanna Gunderson's experimental plays ripple over the mind and body like a fugue. In her recently published collection of four experimental plays, Night, the reader experiences Gunderson's continuity of subject and object. Words and voices from writers like DeQuincey and Beckett, or images from a painter like Turner, or an interview with poet Audre Lord, or sketches of conversations, or personal memories, or the sounds of bells or of nature-all of these merge and float across the page (or, in performance, the stage).
Throughout Gunderson's texts, the words of the play are in bold, and the words in smaller typeface give source and context. So reading her plays is different than experiencing them in a theater--manque in that the kinetic, sculptural, and aural aspects are missing, but perhaps enriched in other ways. Reading becomes a theather of the mind.
Patricia Laurence-Review of Contemporary Fiction