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São Paolo
Madelyn Kent

100 Pages

Kent, a young New York playwright, has investigated an aesthetics of extreme slowness that permits her to descend deep into the breaks of syntax that occur in language as it is spoken by non-native English speakers. Her dramaturgy, influenced by traditions of Butoh though in no way exoticized, involves precise, incredibly slow movement coupled with dialogue spoken at an iceberg pace. Her themes are often humanistic with an interest in politics and world events as they affect one on the most intimate levels, and language as it cracks and reforms when traversing cultural bounds.

Her "shufu" plays, of which São Paolo is an example, are written as collaborations with her Japanese ESL students ("shufu" means "housewife" in Japanese) who create, in workshop-like situations, the plots, character names, and, finally, grammar, in that these plays preserve the ticks, glitches and vulnerabilities of a person speaking English as a second-language. This is not "imperfect" English, nor is it a heedless act of formalism, but a language that bears the marks of their transport from a singular heart and mind into the general world-space, from a fluid interior into the superego of syntax.