Fountain of Oldth: On Beauty and Age

Here is an extract of our PsychoZen Play, Fountain of Oldth. Older and younger women ponder beauty and confront a boast: "I have always been a great beauty." What happens when you say it? 

Last month, I sent the video to the cast of the show. You can enjoy their comments below, and add your own to help me continue editing and culling. 

July 2018


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Reader Comments (3)

Comments from cast:

Omgorgeous I LOVE 💗 IT XOXO

Thanks. The video is visually interesting and thought-provoking, more so, I think, than the Village Zendo performance, which was less focused.
I have a reaction to the statement, “I have always been a great beauty,” similar to what always went through my mind during our rehearsals. I remember as a girl and young woman I always felt I was NEVER a great beauty. When the girls would gather around the bathroom mirrors to fuss with their hair and put on lipstick, I would quickly wash my hands, keep my eyes lowered and move away as quickly as I could. I am not pretty enough to fuss with how I look, I thought. The other girls might laugh at me for thinking I could make any improvement. Even now, when I saw your video, I am surprised at how good I look.
Also, about the opening dialogue. Being looked at is double-edged. Which is worse: being judged by your appearance (both positively and negatively) or being invisible because of it? There’s a double bind we all suffer from.
I liked the sense I got from the “beauty” procession of a range of “feelings” and realities expressed about “great beauty,” and think it could be more outrageously dramatic with voice and posture as it was a bit at our first rehearsal. There’s almost enough room in that procession idea for a whole show.🤤

The “beauty” thing is really a conundrum for women, those startlingly beautiful (by Western standards) and those terribly plain. The great beauty’s beauty fades so she enjoys her status or uses it intelligently, but then it’s gone and she is as invisible as the always-plain woman, who might be more accustomed to being ignored. To lack great beauty from the get-go (once one acknowledges it) can a produce a woman who gets on with her life and is successful —as we can see by just looking around. As hard as it is to be judged by her appearance in youth and (often) in middle age, the invisibility of old age might actually be a good thing — what life might be like without the constant judgement — good or bad — of the male gaze.

I appreciate Nancy's thoughts about the film and another story she shares, that could be included.

August 2, 2018 | Registered CommenterElena Taurke

Here is a reaction from Mama, Marina Romani, with her poem below:

I like this short piece a lot, and, of course, relate to it on all levels, through all my ages.

I’m attaching a poem I wrote last year, called “Crone on a Walk." I don’t remember if you’ve seen it. It’s not really a response to what you’re doing, but it definitely touches on some of the issues, in a sideways sort of way. If you want to use any part of it, please feel free—it’s been published already. Credits, if appropriate, are always nice, of course.

Crone on a Walk

— as I pass by —

she sits on the rock looking pretty
—her beauty a reflection of the adoration
and pride of the young man
who points his camera at her, his very own prize,
on this rock, the sea rising and falling behind
in the glow of late afternoon sky
— he’s getting that picture just so
he’ll show it to his friends, she’ll show it to hers
maybe they’ll post it on Facebook
and if they’re lucky and hold on
this picture will evoke a nice memory
one day, to share with their children
and grandchildren, maybe

she feels pretty with love today
but yesterday in her room
she might have sat in despair by her mirror,
her hair was too short, or was it too long
three new zits had popped up on her face
she hadn’t lost the weight she had wanted
before she started this trip

the rock she sits on today has held
countless young women looking pretty
for their young men, young men filled with love
pointing their cameras at this very spot
at the girls, as the sea rose and fell
and the sky shone above, or it didn’t, depending

I walk by this spot often
past a girl who sits on this rock
an adoring young man with a camera
pointing, getting his picture just so
—the scene repeats itself
each time with a different girl
and a different boy
each couple unique, all the couples alike
—all the girls loved, all of them pretty
feeling happily pretty right now
all filled with self doubt when alone

if I thought they would hear me
I’d speak to each of them so: you’re lovely, truly,
with or without your young men
you’re beautiful because you’re young
the glow and color of youth are yours
they will not be yours tomorrow
Enjoy this, your own self! This moment! Now!

I would speak to them so
or, if I had Cassandra energy, I’d shout out
even though they wouldn’t hear me
—they’d choose not to, busy as they are
building a future they will not control
they’d inform me it’s none of my business
and they would be right about that

I was here, on this rock
or another one like it, once or twice
I felt pretty when adored
ugly and fat in despair when alone
I’ve watched my mother at her mirror
as she spoke to her own reflection,
a face to spit at, she called it
—I didn’t understand until later
when my last year’s photograph
was always more beautiful than today’s
when the photo I hated yesterday I love today
because today I have today’s photo to hate

the picture will not get better
they’ll choose not to know it
and I’ll pass by holding my tongue
—or if they ask me to take a photo
of the two of them on this rock
as a brilliant sky casts its light on the sea
I’ll hold their camera carefully
do my best to capture it all for them
—they’ll check the image and be happy
go off admiring themselves
for making a memory

August 5, 2018 | Registered CommenterElena Taurke

Here is a review from a person named "Bobo:"

The Fountain of Oldth marks a new level of maturity in the work of filmmaker Taurke. We may initially suspect the director of artifice, but once we surrender to her genial and enthusiastic eccentricities, nothing here seems forced. It soon becomes obvious that the (somewhat) contrived antics are intended mainly as metaphor for the (gender, age, race and ability related) roles society forces upon us all. If Taurke sometimes puts words in her players' mouths, she also listens to the inflections those words are given. The take home here seems to be that joy comes from confronting life's scripted realities head-on.

August 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterElena Taurke

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