Jerk might be unbearable for some. But in our eyes, theater so wisely woven with reality, however violent, is wholesome.” – Les Inrockuptibles, France
Gisèle Vienne’s Jerk is based on the chilling text of Dennis Cooper, an author deemed “the most dangerous writer in America” by the Village Voice. It is the imaginary reconstruction – strange, poetic, funny and somber – of the story told from the vantage point of David Brooks, the real life accomplice to Texas serial killer Dean Corll who was responsible for the deaths of more than twenty teenage boys in the early 1970s.
This show sees David Brooks serving his life sentence. In prison, he learns the art of puppets, which somehow enables him to face up to his responsibility as partner in the crimes. He has written a show that he performs in prison for a class of psychology students, in which he reconstructs the murders committed by Dean Corll, using puppets for all the roles.
Due to the violence and humor of the text, there is an underlying fierceness to the performance. The glove puppet theater is in fact the traditional form used to enact violent illicit subjects. And “Jerk” unabashedly mingles sexuality and violence in the vein of gore aesthetics, thus harking back to the glove puppet repertory. The story, however realist it may be, seems to border on unrealism. The play’s apparent realism stems from its linear narration, as well as from its basic true story and from the trickster-puppeteer’s total identification with the fictive character of David Brooks.
Jerk is part of a body of works created by Gisèle Vienne in collaboration with the American writer Dennis Cooper (including “I Apologize” presented at Black Box teater in 2011), that probe the links between fantasy and reality and convey aesthetic experience as a space for representing violence. The more realist “Jerk” enters fantasy fulfillment and puts forth a consistent linear narrative, generating the credibility that undeniably stems from this form.
Jerk was presented at Black Box teater in September 2010.