Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Driver

Brian Cross, one of the puppeteers of The Driver and his voice, was kind enough to share his thoughts on how he has come to understand this intricate role and the Yermedea experience so far:

''Our souls are never perfectly our own." -- Kenneth Gross, Puppet 
"The main through-line through which I've interpreted the Driver is the idea of "The Witness." There is something of an angel in the Bus Driver, the Virgil to the Nurse's Dante: he is the ear to the progression of her story, her guide into and out of the darkness, and through his waiting, watchful eyes we see much of the play unfold. For some reason, he provokes a sense of trust in the Nurse that she may open up to him. As the witness, then, the character of the Driver makes an ideal puppet -- puppets are patient, for they have literally all the time in the world to listen and wait for your attention. Their lives exist solely on the stage. On the other hand, there is something very trapping in a puppet. A puppet is in no rush, and if s/he has the next cue on stage, s/he can hold the audience hostage. 

In a way, therefore, the Driver is something neither living nor dead. This fact comes directly from the text of the play: before the Nurse utters a word, the Driver seems to know the dream she just dreamed and the tales she could tell. Perhaps everyday the Driver has idled with his bus and watched the Nurse pause at the drain before boarding and going about her day. The play is filled with rituals, and you get the sense in the text that the act of driving down his route sometime before sunrise has been the Driver's ritual since forever ago and will be for forever from now, that we're just catching him in the middle of one loop on an endless cycle. For this reason, too, does the Driver work nicely as a puppet -- the puppet finds his home somewhere in the liminal space between earth and beyond, between life and death. The puppet is alive yet threatens the audience with death -- it is animate, but the audience knows that at the end of the show it gets packed in a box. The silence of the puppet gives us the sense that it somehow knows more than us but doesn't like to say -- or rather, that it knows that to tell you would be to rob you of the journey of finding out. 

The Nurse and Driver may begin the play on their typical routes, waking up at the typical time and commuting on their typical bus. Yet the stasis of Yermedea, as in every play, is soon broken, and over the course of the 10 pages the Nurse, with the Driver's guidance, finally faces in the daylight the demons which haunt her only in the crooked light of night."
 submitted by Brian Cross

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