The Demon Show

"The Demon Show" is a play written and directed by Donna Blue Lachman. This performance was videotaped on May 1, 1986. It portrays the psychological struggles of an artist (Lachman) against her own inner demons. These demons take form in characters representing, for example, Temptation and Self-Contempt. The leitmotif of the film is Lachman's telephone (it is "broken" as a line of communication to the outside world) and the telephone repair man who "fixes" this communication.

00:10Copy video clip URL Opening title

00:20Copy video clip URL Pan over front of set. Top of stage shows Shaman, bare chested, loin cloth, and a feather crown “descending” from the set down below.

3:00Copy video clip URL “It was told that long ago…” Shaman tells story of creation. Wailing of “mother earth” heard in the background.

4:38Copy video clip URL Characters from creation myth come alive on top of the stage. Continues with creation myth.

6:32Copy video clip URL Mythical creatures assemble the first human, the first “urban” creature, out of cloth limbs onto a bed and, ostensibly, in an apartment. Creatures leave the newly-assembled body on the bed and leave.

8:20Copy video clip URL Lights out, Talking Heads music, lights back on stage to reveal an actual person in place of the constructed. Woman wakes up on the bed, gets ready for her day. Smokes cigarette, lifts a barbell with one hand, and checks her typewriter simultaneously.

11:13Copy video clip URL Talking Heads music stops. She says, “Weird dreams, man.” Begins to write down her dream about a woman in a box. Calls in sick so as to continue writing and to open up her weekend. Goes back and forth between various tasks and errands. Calls phone company because phone is broken, but they cannot come to repair the phone until after the weekend.

15:15Copy video clip URL She says, “I wish that for once in my that the people I need would be there when I need them.” A telephone repairman knocks on the door. He describes himself as “special.” Yells into phone, smells phone like a dog, speaks equivocally, and his general demeanor is exaggerated: “I can tell just by looking that you have a few loose screws, some wires crossed…”

18:33Copy video clip URL Repairman leaves to get special tools and says, “Oh, by the way, this is going to cost you an arm and a leg.”

20:08Copy video clip URL Sonja, her music teacher, knocks on door. Sonja laments that Lachman’s character no longer works on her music and suggests that she work on her scales. Lachman claims that she is too advanced and that anyways “The world is going to end tomorrow!” Discussion about Lachman’s identity tied to being a musician, since Sonja did not like Lachman’s tape. Sonja encourages Lachman to have patience regarding her creative success.

25:42Copy video clip URL The cigar smoking figure of Glut emerges out of refrigerator. Successfully tempts Lachman to eat a vanilla wafer instead of an apple, sugar, old pizza, an old bagel, etc.

30:28Copy video clip URL Glut leaves through the fridge, audience applauds. Lachman decides to smoke “a little bit of dope” and then plans to practice all day. Music fades in. Lachman is overcome with a fit of awe. Picking up two detergent bottles, she says, “I have joy!”

33:42Copy video clip URL Lachman’s vanity emerges out of corner of apartment. Vanity is silent, but dresses Lachman identically to her with sunglasses, scarf, and a lit cigarette in a holder– “You’re a visionary like me!”

38:13Copy video clip URL Gigantic neon head (self-hatred) interrupts her proud soliloquy– “Stop it! What are you doing?! Look at you! Don’t you know that people are dying of hunger… Why don’t you take responsibility for yourself? You think the world revolves around you? Well guess what? You’re a liar, a taker, and filled with hate.”

40:15Copy video clip URL Boyfriend, Stewart, comes to the apartment with painting in tow. Lachman laments the sad pessimism in his painting and art in general.

44:48Copy video clip URL Voice of self-contempt interrupts back rub: “Your going to phony your way through this, too!” Lachman, persuaded by her nagging self-doubt, interrupts intimacy with Stewart for a cigarette. They have an argument. Stewart leaves, and Lachman says, “I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel bad.”

49:00Copy video clip URL Bells ding. Figure wrapped in a shroud (Ollie the Dismemberer) and carrying a cross comes into apartment in response to Lachman’s call for friends to show up when they’re needed. Figure interacts with cloth body still in the bed, eviscerates it to reveal “not a cardboard heart” but a ripe tomato. Voice is hard to discern. Lachman is frozen in place hand on heart.

52:28Copy video clip URL Knock on door: “Room service!” Telephone repair man returns with special tools. Calls home office with maraca and an incantation. Telephone “spits” at repair man. Attempts to cure phone with alchemy. Puts Lachman into trance on bed. Metaphor for telephone as Lachman’s psyche is made explicit. He says,  “You have called and I have come to tell you of your greatest ally and protector. The bear.” Repair man transforms into a bear (represented by a mask).  Pours sand around bed. Lachman slowly begins to wake up. Music (theremin) plays.

1:01:15Copy video clip URL Bear addresses crowd. Bear goes offstage, but video is dark. Lachman sits upright out of trance and interpretive dances with another animal, possibly a bear

1:04:07Copy video clip URL Lights dim. Noise on stage.

1:04:32Copy video clip URL Lights back up. Sonja and Stewart are discussing. Sonja thinks Stewart is an artistic genius. In a restaurant. Lachman is a waitress and is  mistreated by Sonja and Stewart. Scene descends into chaos. Stewart becomes a dog sniffing Sonja’s shoes (which she took out of her purse), starts barking, fawning over Sonja. Scene abruptly ends with Lachman upset and Stewart reverting back to himself. Lights dim.

1:07:24Copy video clip URL Bells ring. Back to shrouded figure, Ollie, addressing cloth body in bed. Mocks her: “I’m falling apart at the seams!” Tears off her left arm. Tears off left leg. Right arm, right leg, head. Lights out.

1:11:50Copy video clip URL Lights up. Lachman in bed, coughing, and with insomnia. Glut re-emerges out of fridge. He says, “God do I need a drink.” Lachman repeats phrase and drinks. Ollie enters scene with pills. Glut gives Lachman the pills, and she mixes four pills with swigs of wine: “I just want to sleep!” Dancing around Lachman kisses Glut and says, “You are my only friend!” Glut puts Lachman to bed on a chair and wraps her up. “Rest in peace,” he says. Goes back into fridge. Lights out.

1:17:53Copy video clip URL Music, lights fase back in. Man on top of set with a candle addresses Lachman, “Honeybunch! Get up now!” Lachman addresses spirits of her dead mother and father. “It’s not your time now. You stay down there. You’re doing okay. We can here to tell you we love you.”

1:20:09Copy video clip URL Lachman: “My house is like a parade…I have no control over anything.” Parents’ response, “You just have to trust in yourself…You gotta put yourself together.” Lights out. Parents worry about Lachman not getting back up. Apparently she took 21 sleeping pills.

1:22:27Copy video clip URL Ollie, “We’ve gone too far!” Gets Glut to re-emerge. Tries to resuscitate Lachman, “She is dying!” Parents and Glut have an argument. Bear appears behind parents and descends into the apartment. Parents suggest that Ollie put Lachman’s heart back into her body. Ollie does so. They wait. Lights out.

1:26:31Copy video clip URL Still dark, someone sings “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”

1:27:05Copy video clip URL Lights up. Preacher overheard through the radio. Bear, parents watch over Lachman and wait for her to wake. Lachman wakes after the preacher’s “Amen!” Picks up sand around her bed and blows it out of her hands. She sounds exhausted/astonished. Leaves apartment and exposes herself to the open air, breathes deeply with arms fully extended into an embrace. Closes door on temptation and banishes the shrouded woman.

1:31:06Copy video clip URL Picks up telephone and leaves the receiver upside down on the phone, as the telephone repair man suggested earlier in the play. Picks up clarinet and cries. Plays the first few bars of a song.

1:33:37Copy video clip URL Telephone rings. Lights out. Applause.

1:33:50Copy video clip URL Applause, actors take the stage for a bow.

1:34:40Copy video clip URL Lights out, music ends. Someone comes on stage to explain that, because the videotaping changes the lighting conditions of the performance, anyone in the audience is welcome to return to the show free of charge. Invite to meet the cast after the show.

1:35:55Copy video clip URL Text of director’s note, bio.

1:37:12Copy video clip URL Text of ensemble, staff, designers.

1:38:00Copy video clip URL Title card. “Video shot by TAKE ONE VIDEO Chicago”

1:38:48Copy video clip URL Video ends.

 

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