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Garisch ’15 shines in Senior Festival performance

Garisch ’15 shines in Senior Festival performance

By Sabrina Pond

Section: Arts

April 26, 2015

“Song of a Murderess,” a performance written and directed by Jade Garisch ’15, was performed on Tuesday, April 21 as part of Brandeis Theater Company’s Senior Festival. Posters around campus that advertise the senior thesis are enough to make the unthinking passerby inquire what “Song of a Murderess” is about. If you caught a quick glance of it you would have noticed a blonde woman, her eyes open wide and outlined with eyeliner, wearing an orange jumpsuit and staring deep into your soul. The poster is more than unsettling because the woman’s lifeless eyes call us to hear her story and try to make sense of it.

This one-woman show tells the story of Fallon, a woman accused of murdering her boyfriend. Fallon attempts to prove her innocence to the court—the audience—through a haphazard interplay of memories from various points in her life. Garisch explores the unreliable nature of memories throughout her performance as she recounts parts of Fallon’s childhood, her relationships with the most important people in her life (her grandmother and boyfriend) and her most troubling memories. Each of these add depth to her character, though the audience has to judge whether or not these impressions are true or fabricated. At multiple points through “Song of a Murderess” it can be difficult to tell.

From the moment Garisch walked on stage to the final seconds of the performance, she was a fireball of energy. Throughout the show she was stomping, singing, laughing and crying, screaming and wailing. Her complete and total commitment to the part made me wonder if she aged 10 years or so after each performance. Also, her ability to perform on stage alone, somehow circumventing the need to perform with other actors, is more than noteworthy. Without even a moment’s hesitation Garisch changed positions, at one point wearing a mask as one character, the next taking off the mask as another character. Her performance was fruitful and said more about Fallon’s life and experiences than any other format for the show could.

It’s a hard watch. “Song of a Murderess” is a challenging performance to sit through because of the sense of dread and bleakness it elicits; how else can a person feel after discovering that Fallon’s closest relative can’t remember her name? Or that Fallon is haunted by the image of a poor man on the street begging for money for food? Or most tragic of all, that she has no one to turn to for love and solace? The story is a tragic one, but that is not to say that it isn’t an engaging or satisfying one.

The show asks difficult questions that cannot be answered, and that leave the audience squirming in their seat because they have no proper explanation. The show, which incorporated video, dance and music, engages the audience in a fresh way. According to Garisch, her senior thesis was meant to explore the following ideas: “I hope that the story of ‘Song of a Murderess’ challenges people to look at the way they view their memories and ask themselves whether the way they perceive their past experiences is affecting how they live in the present. I also hope this piece promotes the use of non-traditional theater devices. My last hope for this story was to deal with some of the psychological issues and pressures facing young women today in a very conceptual and experimental fashion.” All in all, Garisch’s very ambitious “Song of a Murderess” proves fascinating and adventurous on multiple levels, but not because it supplies us with any sort of answer. Rather, it is a point of interest because it denies us an easy answer.

At the end of the performance, Garisch asks the audience two difficult and pointed questions. “Those of you who think Fallon’s guilty?” which is followed by “And those of you who think Fallon is innocent?” The jurors raised their hands, and a final verdict reverberated through the room, reaping final judgment on Fallon’s life. The next and final performance is Saturday, April 25 at 2:30 p.m. in the Laurie Theater in Spingold.

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