The Room Will Untidy

string orchestra (at least 2 people per part)
2 spoken word actors

Homecoming CalArts - MFA grad recital - 4/25/17

Performers: Chrysanthe Tan, Noga Yechieli, Nigel Deane, Michael Freed, Grace Kathryn Fellows, Jonathan Tang, Sophia Schuldt, Luigi Polcari, Tal Katz, Miller Wrenn, Kris Rahamad

Description: The Room Will Untidy is a piece about the human avoidance of entropy, the tendency toward disorder. We know deep down that things will deteriorate. The ice will melt. Bodies break down. The dominoes will fall. A meticulously cleaned room will untidy.

I struggle to accept entropy. I do not like things outside of my control. I want things to be right. I want things scheduled. I want there to be an order. I don’t want my brain and body to fail. I don’t like surprises. Therefore, I plan. I plan for everything. And despite my best efforts, things go awry and askew all the time. Or maybe they are simply different, and that is okay. The irony of over-planning is that my lack of universal control is magnified tenfold. In the grand scheme of things, I am powerless, at least in the face of this inevitable thermodynamic principle.

Thus, I simultaneously go through bouts of radical acceptance. The Room Will Untidy is a portrayal of this back and forth, resistance vs. acceptance of entropy. The two spoken voices represent two inner voices within the same person, hence why the text provided below makes no delineation between characters. Accepting my place and powerlessness in the context of the vast universe is part of my homecoming quest on a grander scale.

The first story in the piece is about getting lost on a run in my mother’s homeland of Greece, where I was visiting for the first time for a composer residency. Getting lost is a common theme in my life, as I have virtually no sense of direction (I still get lost at school, despite spending four years here). The second story is a childhood memory of sitting in church after taking communion and painstakingly eating the blessed bread, the antidoron, one crumb at a time. I strived for complete perfection in my consumption of the bread, forever determined not to waste a single morsel. As a side note, the name of the actual bread referenced in this piece is prosphora (Greek for “offering”). This bread made of wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water, is unilaterally used for Eucharist in all Greek Orthodox churches and traditionally served post- service as well. 


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Full text:

I. Prelude

This is the part of the story where I make a promise.
This is the part of the story where you decide if you’re here. It doesn’t feel right to begin a story with a promise —
but we all begin life with a name.

II. Lost On a Run

I’m on a run. Slow jog. I’m focused. Taking photos of landmarks as I go down the hill. There’s a house with lilac doors, motorbike repair shop, nook with the sunbathing cats, carob tree, cafe with an English name probably for tourists, a bakery just opening its door...I wonder if they sell my favorite bread.

Follow the white stone arrows.

I’m new on this island. (Follow the white stone arrows.) Not yet fluent in the lexicon of the land. But I know I am running to the water and back.

Follow the arrows.

I’m approaching the water. Pure blue. Salty smell. Heavy wind but no waves. Water is my turning point, so I turn around. I have no internal compass, but I’m following the signs: abandoned sofa, graffiti wall, that crusty carob tree spitting pods on the road. Should I pick one up and taste it?

Stay the path.

I see my destination, right up there, a monastery at the top of the hill. Where is the white stone arrow?

This looks new...I lost the path...Focus. I can do this. I can find this.

But the road ends here. The road ends here. The pedestrian path is on the other side of the hill. I should wander around. I need to go back down. Find the white stone arrow.

Where is the arrow? There’s not a soul in sight. I’ll just go back down.

The arrow. Where am I...? I can fix this. This feels wrong. The arrows. The arrows. The arrows. The arrows.

The only way up is down.

III. Orchestral Interlude

Follow the arrows / I like being lost. I can’t be lost / I like being lost.

IV. How to Eat Bread

I used to go to church every Sunday. It’s where I fell in love with bread. In fact, I went for the bread*. After Communion, we were allowed to pick a single white bread cube from the bowl to cleanse our palate. I’d savor mine ’til the service ended. There were always so many crumbs on the pews after service. Crumbs everywhere...

But there is a proper way to eat a piece of bread:

Step 1: Hold bread lightly, in dominant hand, supple fingers. Step 2: Cup non-dominant hand under your chin. This is your tray. Step 3: Stick tongue slightly out. Step 4: Raise bread to tongue. Go slow. Step 5: Land bread on tongue, full surface area adhering to face of bread cube. Step 6: Suck on the bread until a portion is sufficiently wet. Step 7: Bite off a tiny wet corner. Feel each particle on your lips and in your mouth. Bite will be moist, lightly sticky. Step 8: Chew and swallow the piece as you see fit. Feel free to improvise. At this point, you have a half- eaten bread stub. Step 9: Tap the stub with your tongue to seal the crumbs in, preventing further crumb loss. Then repeat steps 1-9 until bread us gone.

So eating bread is a ten-step process?...

V. Finale

Set an alarm. / I trust the sun.
The room will untidy. / If you allow. A proper way. / It’s a process.

Set an alarm
If you allow
I’m focused
A proper way. Follow the arrow Stay the path

The arrow
Are you here?
No excuse
I can fix this
The road ends here

I trust the sun

The room will untidy.

Improvise. I’m new
It’s a process

A promise
The arrow
The road ends here Savor
I like being lost

I like being lost I like being lost I like being lost I like being lost I like being lost I like being lost I like being lost I like being lost...