Peripheral Blur - Script
solo performance Colin Campbell
52 minutes October 11, 1980

Colin appears out of darkness wearing a hat and dark glasses, a long green overcoat and leather boots.

"OK Colin. Go through the list one more time. I've got my driver's license, got my OHIP card, got my VISA card, got my SIN card number. I have my airplane tickets, I have my passport, I have my traveller's cheques, I have three foreign currencies, oh right. I have my de-stress tabs, my vitamin C, change for a phone call, and my address book. I have my travel alarm, I have my ampacillin in case I get a dose. I've got my Halton cologne, got my Tylenol, got my eye drops. I can't forget anything. I've got my hairdryer, I've got my travel iron. I've got my converter for my hairdryer and travel iron. I've got my adaptor for my converter for my hairdryer and travel iron. I've got my dental floss, toothpaste, hair brush, tooth brush, razor blades, that's got to be it. I've got myself together. (Colin sits)

Great. I've got my sights set. I've got my mind made up. I've got my ideas honed. I've got my hopes raised. Got my priorities ordered. Got my thoughts organized. I really got it together. Wait. (he gets up) Something's wrong. Something's missing. I need my background. No, I really need my background, see, I never travel without my background. Let's be prepared.

Don't get led up the garden path. Don't mix me up with your reality. Don't use your imagination. You see I really do need my background. I need the edges sharp, let me fill in the peripheral blur.

(pointing to a slide of a night time street)
This is Yonge Street. Mainstreet Canada. This is my front yard. This is my background. This is where I fit in. This is where I work, eat, sleep, play, get drunk. I can be anonymous here. I live between a Burger King and a McDonald's, nourishment is just a step away in either direction. My cockroaches who live upstairs with me think they've landed in heaven. My street is high on tech, low on style, long on concrete, short on grass, you might say beyond the valley of the suburban dream. I'll show you.

phone rings. A woman's voice. "Colin?"
Colin: "Oh hi, gee I'm really tied up right now, I have to be at the airport in an hour or so. I'll call you maybe just before I get on the plane."

Gee two hours to kill before the cab comes. Maybe I should call her back. No.

phone rings. A woman's voice. "Are you sleeping with Sheila?"
Colin: "No, I'm talking to you. But didn't we stop speaking last week at the Cabana Room when you found me on a fire escape with that woman whose name will never pass your lips again. It's true, we do try to keep in touch over the phone with each other's life, at least socially. Sheila, hmm. Wonder where that rumour started. She's gorgeous. A fabulous dresser. I wonder if she'd ever call me?

phone rings. A woman's voice. "Colin, are you seeing Robert?"
Colin: "I see Robert all the time at parties, we keep bumping into each other. Look I have four people here, there's a bottle of champagne to finish before I get to the airport. I'll try to get back to you ok, if not I'll talk to you in a couple of months."

Would be nice to have some company. I wonder where John is? He didn't answer his phone all day. Tanya hasn't called me for days. I guess they think I'm all too busy. Last season we chose the month of November, by we I mean me and all my arty friends. We chose the month of November to stop speaking to one another. Shit lists were drawn up, reputations were dragged down, rumours were beefed up, dinner engagements were cancelled, brunches ignored, cocktails parties boycotted, names were removed from my address book. It was very very serious. Names were blackened. Hearts broken, tears cried, friendships ended, gifts returned. Associations were disbanded overnight. We all loved it.

voice over speakers: Achtung. Der flug jetzt gehen nach Koln bitte. (repeats)

Colin: OK Colin (consulting a small book which he digs out of his bag) The train leaves for Koln on gate nine (drops book) or maybe she said terrorists had blown up the platform how can you tell?

voice over speaker: Attention. Attention. It is time to go and meet the International Art Curators. Have your products ready and pretend to understand nothing. Be prepared for precisely nothing. (Colin pulls videotapes out of his bags, large formats and small) Be prepared for anything. This year you may be it. Total local asshole. This year is perfect gig time. (Colin unfolds map) We have the Venice Biennale, the Brussels Art Fair and the Paris Biennale, you cannot afford to not be there. We are nothing for your culture but products. You'll blanch with pleasure when you see our Kunsthalle, our Kunst museum. Now why did you become an artist... in Paris, Amsterdam, Koln, Venice, Brussels and London.

Colin: Brussels. So this is Brussels. What a night in Brussels, I mean instinct tells me I don't look good against an L. That's a really nice cathedral but it's not religious experience I'm after here. I can't recommend it, I can't read the signs, I'm getting my signals crossed, I feel I'm missing the boat. Look, I'm just standing here on this cobblestones, trying to keep my balance. Trying to keep the edges sharp. Trying to keep the background in focus. (lights fade out)

She looked at me. She leaned over, her hand touched my neck, she inhaled. She said, "What scent are you wearing? Why do wear perfume? I only ask because... it reminds me of someone dear to me. I used to buy perfume for her." Ah, I thought, there may be a story here.

music: Smoke Get In Your Eyes
They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
I of course replied
Something here inside
Cannot be denied.

They said someday you'll find
All who love are blind
When your hearts on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes...

lights come up, Colin in a wig, sits at a table playing with a bracelet. Has a cigarette burning.

Colin: I feel, how do you say, I feel very European. Did you hear the bells this morning? Ascension day. Oh, but that was yesterday. They were so lovely. I opened my French windows just a bit so I could hear them more clearly, but tonight it is much more lively. People are out, there's music, people are so beautifully dressed. How I love to stroll on the boulevard, stopping at a cafe for a cappuccino. This is the best spot, I can be seen yet I can observe. I have a small confession. In the mornings I like American cigarettes, but for the evenings I prefer my Galouse. I spent the morning arranging the flowers that were sent to me. They were lovely, but she made a mistake. She included some iris in them, she knows I don't like blue flowers so of course I had to take them out and rearrange the flowers again. It is important, you know, these details, things have to be just right. You understand? This afternoon I sinned just a little. I stopped at the Galleria, you know that perfume shop. I succumbed. Of course it was far too expensive, but it's the best. You understand? Bonsoir Andre. Such a nice ass. I slept with him, it's true, but it was nothing serious. We were young. But it's like our history. Love is like our history. Like that cathedral the dark history, they've been building it for twelve hundred years. It is a part of our life now. But it is love that makes us smooth, you know? Like these cobblestones, it's fun, it is not serious. Not like our wars. No, I no longer go to Germany. But of course I speak German fluently, I learned it as a child, remember? Now I could not speak it because I feel the accent does not suit me.

French song plays

You made a mistake. It was a 71 Chablis I ordered. Francois Yvette. But you look so charming tonight. But you've been keeping secrets. I have not seen that silver scarf before. Why do you look so wistful? Ah, a new love. Oh yes I am alone but I prefer no company tonight. Say I'll ring you up this weekend, we could go to the gallery. But it's perfect, love and art are the perfect combination Yvette. You can tell me about your new love over a Picasso. Ciou.

She slept with Andre too. Well he broke her heart. Well it's really quite unbelievable, he left her for a rich American. It is too amusing. A rich American in lots of ways can you imagine? She would have been better off taking a book by Foucault to bed, after all, one European on paper is worth two Americans between the sheets.

(slides of Colin in drag appear)
Anna. Go away. Leave me alone. I have nothing more to give you. I gave you everything, I'm exhausted. I'm drained. I feel empty. Even my flesh feels dead. You cannot come back. It is I who have to survive, I must go on.

woman's voice from speaker: Take me for a walk.

Colin: What are you saying? You are too weak. You cannot walk. If it were possible, we could go out and crawl on the ground on our hands and knees together, that is the most we could do. You ask too much.

woman's voice from speaker: Then tell me about your walk.

Colin: I only take short walks now. I'm trying to stop running away. I just wish, I wish I could stay in bed all day, just never get up. Never get dressed, never answer the phone, never answer the door, never read a letter, never write a letter, just stay very still. It's terrible. I burst into tears on trains, in restaurants, for no reason it just floods over me and I guess I know the reason. But I can't prevent myself. And I hate it because I'm a woman and I'm crying in public and people watch me and they think that I'm weak. I don't go for walks anymore.

woman's voice from speaker: Then come.

Colin: Then come, Anna. Calm Anna. Did you come Anna? Can you come Anna? That's what all the men say. I have immense hatred against these men, these lovers of mine. Men are babies, they want a shoulder to lean on, but they just want me to surrender. They like to make love to strong women but if I'm weak they vanish. Men, men enter me so far that finally there's no place for me anymore. And if that's enough, men enter my head, so there's no room for my thoughts anymore. Then they buy you a drink. I must have silence. I must be alone.

I must dance now. (music begins, lights down, s/he dances to electropop) Music is abruptly cut off. Woman's voice from speaker mixed with Eno's Music for Airports: I saw friends that day. They tell me about their difficulties. I met my mother later that day in Brussels. She asks me to talk and how am I doing? I never talk. We sat there. The next morning I meet my lover, we make love. He leaves for work, I will come sit later. I try to find a pharmacy. My lover returns. I make love to him. Later I massage his back, I say nothing. The next day I'm going to tell him I'm ill.

Colin: You began to wear perfume.

woman from speaker: Yes, I needed it to hide the stink. You rot and you stink in the process.

Colin: I can't remember if we ever made love. We did so many different things together it all gets mixed up. Look. I'm not depressed. I'm not sad. I'm just trying to figure out what happened, that's all. You know? Just what happened.

woman from speaker: We women die with a giant vagina, it becomes bigger and bigger as the hour of death comes closer and closer. Dying is the most overtly sexual excitement.

Colin: I slept at the foot of her bed for two months. One morning I woke up, I was hungry. On my way out I leaned over and she bit me on the ear. When I came back she was dead. (he unfolds letter and reads it) Dear Colin, Have you forgotten your European friend already? Why don't you answer my letters? I told you all about my (thunderstorm audio starts) love, my grief, our history, our art but perhaps it is too much for you to understand, for you to feel. We are after all more experienced in these matters, in our world than in yours. What else could I expect? Anna
(the lights have gone down, a slide sowing a cityscape and then lightning bolts are shown on the ceiling)
Marianne Faithful song (Colin steps to microphone and mimes singing)
I feel good, though I know I've done no wrong I feel good
I feel bad, thought I know I've done no wrong I feel bad
I never lied to my lover, but if I did I wouldn't admit it
If I could get away with murder I'd take my gun and I'd commit it
I never gave to the rich, I never stole from the poor
Like a curious child
Give me more more more more more more more

(Colin takes off wig and scarf, unbuttons blouse revealing t-shirt)

I feel blood, I feel blood, though I feel it in my veins it's not enough
I feel blood, I feel blood, though I feel it through my veins it's not enough
I never stole a scarf from Harrod's but if I did you wouldn't miss it
I never stole a doll from Lovecraft but if I did you know I'd kiss it
I never stole from the rich, I never gave to the poor
Like a curious child
Give me more more more more more more more

Colin stands in a square made of fluorescent lights

Colin: I'm not Anna. I don't feel guilt. I don't feel bad. It was just a peripheral blur. (He opens letter and reads it) Letter (echoes) Dear Robin, I'm not what you want to see Anna, I'm not what you want me to be Anna. I should have brought my background with me. I knew there'd be dangers, the dangers of peripheral blur. You filled in my background Anna and it was the wrong one. I'm not your lover Anna, I can't touch your grief. And you can't touch me. You want to sleep with the dead Anna, I belong to the living. Between us there's just a peripheral blur. These edges are sharp, that is the way I need them. Would you like to know me? Then you can only see me in my world, but don't peripheral blur. Don't peripheral blur. Don't peripheral blur. Don't peripheral blur. Don't peripheral blur. Don't peripheral blur. Don't peripheral blur. Don't peripheral blur.