Think About It Susan

Barry Markowitz

  • Date: October 11, 1980
  • Time:
  • Venue: Provisional Theatre

The performance begins in darkness. Two 4′ by 8’ mylar clothesline. She hangs them on the line. The surgeon then mirrors are held horizontally in front of props. A strobe light goes on. The audience sees only its reflection flashing in the mirrors.  The mirrors slowly part revealing Tony sitting at the light table.  The parted mirrors reflect the performance from both sides.  Tony bends to gnaw a piece of raw meat on the table.  Barry approaches, stops and says “No. Is this supposed to be art or what?”  Tony looks up, shrugs, and leaves.  Barry sits and starts duplicating Tony’s actions.


Wendy enters holding a card reading MEDITATION Says “A meditation” and leaves. Strobe goes off.  Barry continues to gnaw meat. A ballerina enters dressed in white with small lights attached to her.  She dances around unaware of Barry.  Suddenly, she notices him, dances over and asks “What are you doing Barry?” Barry stops, looks up and answers “Think about it Susan.”  He lifts a gun form the table and shoots her.  Light over the table goes off, and she dances off left accompanied by left mirror.


Wendy appears at right with a card reading DESECRATION, says “And now, a desecration” and exits.  Light goes on over a grave made entirely of rye bread.  The headstone reads STOP.  David and Kate enter and kneel on opposite sides of the grave.  They begin to eat the bread with cream cheese.  A Rabbi enters carrying a stool and sits at the headstone.  He settles in, occasionally glancing at the grave.  David and Kate, unaware of him, begin eating more voraciously, grabbing and competing for bread.  The Rabbi finds his place in prayer book, leans over and begins, flatly, to recite jokes at the grave.  “I went to a doctor the other day.  He said I was crazy.  I said I’d like a second opinion.  He said… “Barry answers for the grave “OK, you’re  ugly too.” After each joke, the other cast members mechanically respond “HA HA HA.”  The bread eating becomes frenzied.  The ballerina enters dancing.  The graveside commotion attracts her attention.  She stops, approaches the grave, turns, walks to the wings and asks, what are you doing Barry?”
Barry’s arm enters holding gun. “Think about it Susan.”  BANG! Dances off right accompanied by right mirror.  BLACKOUT.


Lights up. Barry is lying on operating table. Wendy enters with card reading SPECULATION, says “And now, a speculation/’ Exits. The surgical team enters, stands in front of table and sings to audience, “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones — now hear the word of the Lord.” The operation begins. The surgeon makes the initial incision. As the operation proceeds, four pieces of raw meat are removed from Barry’s chest and placed on a tray. The surgeon asks “What’s this guy do?” Nurse answers, “He’s an artist,” then adds, “and T quite a bleeder.” Blood flies and flows. During the operation the anesthesiologist has been painting the operating room backdrop white. Then with a detail brush, adds traversing black lines that dip occasionally as he says “BLIP” or “BLAP.” Under the table is a video monitor showing a tape of lines which also BLIP or BLAP. The surgeon calls for more rags to soak up blood. As he removes each bloodstained rag, he realizes that he likes what he sees.


He says, “I want to keep these.” He hands the rags to Wendy who is seated to the right of the operation scene under a clothesline.  She hangs them on the line.  The surgeon then says, “ You know, these aren’t worth much without a signature.”  He not takes Barry’s hand from under the sheet and carefully them prints each rag before it’s hung out.  The surgeon stops and says to the audience,  “ And now, a word from the artist’s mother.”  Wendy (in Brooklynese):  “You know he was always very moody.”  They return to their former business.  The last rag is hung and they start to “close” Barry’s chest.  The ballerina enters.  She flutters about, sees Barry and dances over.  The surgical team continues.  The dancer asks “What are you doing, Barry?” “Think about it Susan.”  His gun hand appears from under the sheet and shoots her.


The mirrors close off the scene, the reopen.  Barry and the surgical team are seated at the light table.  Wendy enters wearing Groucho Marx glasses, nose and moustache.  She says, “An now for a little Freudian symbolism.”  From the tray, she serves each of the others a piece of raw meat.  They attack the meat like wild animals, growling and tearing it in their teeth.  The ballerina enters dancing as before.  This time when she notices him, she runs over and asks,  “What are you doing Barry?”  “Think about it Susan. BANG! She runs away, dashes back and now shouts, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” they all rise, arms extended, guns in hand.  They begin chanting, “THINK ABOUT IT SUSAN, THINK ABOUT IT SUSAN,” shooting with each repetition.  She falters, finally collapses on her back, center stage.  She has been killed.  Two nurses slowly unwind a scroll over the body.  Barry picks up his kazoo, and reading the scroll like music, plays a slow, mournful blip..blap.. blip.  The tempo quickens and the tune becomes …STARDUST.  The two mirrors slowly close over the scene.  Barry stands over the dead dancer, his back to the audience.  As his soulful STARDUST ends, the mirrors meet.