A response to Forced Entertainment's "Real Magic" Jan 20, 2018
by Petra Zanki
I have known of Les Rita Mitsouko for ages, and lately their song Marcia Baïla wouldn’t let me go. Last time I listened to it was yesterday, on Spotify, while I was shopping for dry sausages at the PCC. I used to laugh a lot with Allen, who passed away, about the hippy character of it. Before grocery shopping, we would act to each other peace, love, and harmony, with a slow, stoned voice, knitted brows, and slow, peaceful movements: “I am going to PCC, man.” “Ok, man. PCC, man.” Next to the duck fat and natural sausages section, with two oranges in my basket, I was jumping yesterday on Marcia Baïla, making moves, keeping my earphones dug in and volume on loudest, wanting to be oh so free, oh so full of life, to swallow life in unimaginable highs and lows, all of it at once.
Oftentimes songs come unannounced to us and keep repeating themselves in our heads, like hidden messages during times we’re thinking about other things. I take them as signs because I take everything as a sign, and also because I rarely listen to lyrics first. Many times, it is the melody that catches my attention; then I sing what I presume it is about, being convinced that that’s exactly what the song is about, only to find out later, and not to my disappointment, that the lyrics are about something completely different, and usually, the opposite.
Marcia Baïla comes to me often lately, and for last three days even more forcefully, since I am thinking of what to write here. But since the song is from the eighties and passed on to me from my older cousins, I couldn’t possibly know what it is about, and have never before asked myself that. So, I went to YouTube and watched it over and over again: Yes, the clip is brilliant, and they’re in bug costumes at one point, and she is — she is so powerful — so, so real. This silly song must be about life; you can tell. About wanting to explode and gather life from all its corners at once, like it was a bindlestiff.
Only this morning I said: “Let me google those lyrics.” To my disappointment, the song was about death. About the death of a friend who died of cancer. In flying insect costumes.
It makes perfect sense, otherwise it would be pathetic.
Too rare is it possible to describe what it is about life and people and death, but mainly about life, that keeps us going. Too rare is it possible to describe accurately its absurdity: how we keep on failing while we keep on trying. The real magic of Forced Entertainment is that they are capable of achieving what not many know how to achieve, but still attempt: to swiftly play with life in art, over and over again, exploring every single cliché in human interactions.
My friend and colleague, actress Katarina Stegnar said: “People are caught in their molds and patterns that are impossible to break. We keep trying to break through, but we keep being caught in the same old patterns, over and over again.” And we try everything to make others see our truth.
I cried during the scene in which Richard holds a sign in front of Claire saying: “Sometimes the answer is in front of your eyes” and she keeps unseeing. Or it was the other way around, I forgot.
In 2015 I wrote to poet Allen Johnson a note that I was never able to deliver: “Hate is love gone awry.”
In 2005 Allen wrote a letter to a friend and actor Barry Levine, that he recently sent to me: “Maybe all love is hate, forgiven.”
With the same intentions, from different, often, opposite directions, we all look at and for the same things, trying our best. We scream on top of each other, we fold into each other, we beg, argue, and plead. We keep on saying to ourselves, to justify our existence.
And you know what?
All of our truths are real.
All of our truths are true.
Petra Zanki is Seattle choreographer and theatre maker originally from Croatia.
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