Court Theatre

Court Theatre : Gloss

She calls them to her, conferral, you do not know what is going on
there is code and negotiation
How will you begin?
Woman with big silver chains over a lilac patterned blouse gestures
man speaks low, tie straight down and sharp
bewildered clients stare straight ahead
Was the performance in line with or a departure
from what you experienced?
he pressed down there, and over, the muscles strain
liquid darker this hurts, he does not care and presses, inches
note the finger down and into tender
my breasts mine again now really
spots sore inside bruises
not for any hospital
telephone chains, survivor language, note to speak note
police station marble floor echoes when I make my report.
How will you live now?
No. I did not ask
my breast felt, bruised, squeezed hard
fibers spring out of their sockets
shape new contours.
Body I do not know
Naked. My wheelchair outside. I can’t run. I am bound
to these words,
my neck bristles, right now, I write down
these glimpses of memory
words I remember dredging up
for the police woman,
the guy at the station, the man in the suit,
How did the site influence your performance?
The prosecutor in the courthouse.
The corridor.
Outside the bathroom,
consultation, ties, high heels.
Tell me what you know about dismemberment.
We sit here, legs crossed. She sits. He sits.
We hear stories of robberies.
Is your client pleading?
What was it like for you to see what you said
through another person’s body?

we wheel into the courthouse and I swat away sensation and the pressure the pressure the blood comes to the surface again, and prickles in my neck hairs upright, and “this is a classic PTSD episode,” she says, watch the light go and go and go and go and No. I say, I know I said that, and I repeat it, and you better listen to me, man tie.

I am pleading to let me out.

About the Author

Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, and a Professor at the University of Michigan. She leads The Olimpias, a performance research collective. Her Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) explores arts-based research methods. She is editor of Somatic Engagement (ChainLinks, 2011), and the author of Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), a book of practical exercises for classrooms. A new poetry collection, Pearl Stitch, appears in 2016 with Spuyten Duyvil. As an artist, she works interdependently, and makes use of artful support: this poem cites lines from fellow queercrip dancer Marissa Perel’s performance experiments and from experimental writer and bodyworker Bhanu Kapil’s interviews from The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (2001).