by Artur Pałgya
ICD-10 is the International Classification of Diseases. Chapter V(F) classifies Mental and Behavioural Disorders.Seven people (Lesiu, the computer scientist, Teresa, the poet, Jerzy, Adaś and Zibelda) recount their experiences from the perspective of people with different disabilities – mental, physical or psychological – explaining how they have lived over the last 20 years, and what 1989 and the ensuing years have brought them. Have there been noticeable differences in their own lives?
The play focuses on the everyday life of marginalized people, on those living outside recognised social norms. The historical events over the last 20 years provide a counterpoint and, in the form of exhibitions and video installations, create a space where the protagonists act.
Artur Pałyga's text is based on authentic events and the stories of people with disabilities.
This is the key scene for understanding the subsequent events. In this monologue, the world is described from the standpoint of a person who has been blind and deaf for the last 30 years. Since he was not born with these disabilities, he encodes the reference system he knew from his childhood (1950s and 60s), and which was rooted in a different society. But he only operates with these kinds of associations. For him, the only space for changes can be in the area of touch or smell.
The computer scientist (monologue)
For a longer time, the computer scientist lived and acted within the reality of changes and the changing requirements and standards. You could say that he adapted superbly to the new demands of reality in the post-1989 world. His monologue begins with a hymn of praise to those who have adapted. Yet at a certain point in time, the flood of new stimuli reaches unbearable proportions. We are confronted with a person in a situation of angst, who cannot cope with everyday life, and feels totally lost.
Initially, Teresa's world was clearly defined and stable, and was composed of her dreams (she wanted to be a cosmonaut) and her father's unshakeable faith in the dogma of the Soviet Union's sanctity and infallibility. Thanks to her sharp wits, she could hide the eye defect that would have stopped her going to flight training school. When the Soviet Bloc fell apart, the foundations of her stable world collapsed. "The first time I was really shocked was when I saw my father tearing his party book into shreds.” Teresa never managed to find her place in the newly emerging world. Her growing helplessness and that notorious fear of confrontation led her to gradually withdraw from reality – a process that ended in depression with hallucinations.
Zibelda is completely dependent on others. Since she is totally paralysed, time only has a meaning for her when she spends it with other people. She is capable of inventing the most incredible, most amazing stories about her life simply to ensure that someone pays attention to her just for a moment. Zibelda dreams up lies about her father sexually abusing her, though he never did, about studying for a degree, which she never finished, and about working for a corporation, which she never bothered to look into further. In this mosaic of falsehoods, you lose track and have no idea which parts really fit together.
Adaś (scene without words)
The poet (monologue)
The poet shows how a schizophrenic negotiates reality. He presents a picture of estrangement from a world unceasingly surging forwards, where anyone who does not fit in is pushed aside. His situation is even more tragic since, between the periods when he battles with his illness, he tries to catch up on the world distanced from him by setting himself tasks that are important for people: he strives to complete a degree, wants to make a CD, and hopes to publish a volume of poems.
Adaś (scene without words)
A meeting of the characters: Mama, Lesiu and the mysterious "-", the author's alter ego. Mama takes Lesiu to therapy workshops, since although he has only been able to hear again recently thanks to an implant and hasn't been able to see for decades, he can write exceptionally well on a PC. We discover more about his world from a simple task that Lesiu is asked to complete. When asked "What do you like?", the only thing he is able to answer begins and ends with childhood memories.
Characters appearing in this scene: Mama I, Mama II, Mama III, Mama IV and a hygienist.
Sexuality and disability. The scene primarily presents the standpoints of parents, carers and those involved with people living with differing degrees of disabilities and concerned about the rights of people with disabilities to satisfy their sexual needs. This is a delicate topic, especially in Poland. From birth to death, people with disabilities are usually treated like little children.
Characters: Nymph, Maciek, Olek, Grześ
The topic remains focused on erotic relationships. The scene is a transfer of behaviour that lots of people are undoubtedly familiar with ‑ a longing to score with someone you like. To do something, the other finds fascinating, to satisfy erotic desires and the desire to start a relationship. To fulfil the dreams of love.
Jaś and Saint Paul: A young boy called Jaś, who we only meet once and who has Tourette syndrome and coprolalia, had the right to attend therapy workshops taken away because he wasn't making progress. In the way he portrays it, this is a cynical image and the boy continues to go for a walk everyday with his dad at the place the therapy workshop vehicle picked him up, except that no one picks him up any more, and now Saint Paul is waiting there, teaching Jaś the meaning of patience and love using the words of his Letter to the Corinthians.
Characters: Karol, Lesiu
In the meeting with Karol, Lesiu is open, interested in the world that the "Other" offers. Interested, though not surprised, that Karol has recorded the Virgin Mary talking on the radio. The Virgin Mary who talks to Karol warns him and warns others through him. That doesn't surprise Lesiu. The only thing that surprises Lesiu is the fact that Karol doesn't live anywhere and hasn't got a flat. He has a cassette recorder and cassettes with the Virgin Mary, but he hasn't got his own place.
About Jerzy, who fights everyone and everything. Jerzy fights against every form of society, every law, every trend in fashion, nutrition, music, language. Jerzy can compose outstanding applications, grievances and complaints. Every situation is the right one for Jerzy to break out in protest and anger. What about? It really doesn't matter, anything will do. Jerzy protests against them all, the editor, the journalist, the politician, the civil servant, and he even protests against the doctor. Jerzy fights, constantly.
Characters: Lesiu, "-"
How can one grasp the changes that have occurred after 1989 if one has no point of reference between then and now? "-" tried to explain to Lesiu what has happened, what has changed. But how can you convey a word like "freedom" to Lesiu when he hasn't been free for a long time? For him, freedom and unfreedom are enclosed in other borders. Freedom means the Peace Race and the Polish cosmonaut Mirosław Hermaszewski. Lesiu's lack of orientation forces "-" to formulate the questions exactly and give direct answers. Without metaphors and images. Consequently, the "normal” world of "-" has to be clearer and simpler.
Agni dreams of a man. Agni dreams of sex, since she does not write the mail with her hands, or read with her eyes. Agni is paralysed. Her body is unable to move externally, but internally she is consumed by the fire of life, desires and actions. He already knows that she is paralysed, and that her mother is taking her to the shopping mall. Agni likes to dance, and dreams of dancing with her lover and waits impatiently for Sunday.
Scenes 16 and 17
A scene about the love that is impossible between two people with disabilities.
Characters: Agni, Zibelda, Teresa, the computer scientist, Lesiu, Jerzy, the poet
This scene takes the people with disabilities into the world of "true order”. The International Earth Day – voluntary actions to clean the world, everyone achieving cleanliness in the way they understand it and can realise it. But against the background of the concern about cleanliness, the people with disabilities talk in their own language about how the world looks now in their view, how it once was, what role they play in it and where there is space for them now, in this new world. A discussion about what is past and how it can be described. How can one find simple words to tell a story that is over? How can one understand the changes and how should one come to terms with the fact that it's good somewhere else, but certainly not at the place where our heroes are?
Characters: Lesiu, the poet, Teresa, Jerzy
A scene about reckoning up, about sentencing those who ought to receive due punishment for their deeds. Poland did not pass any laws that would forbid people in high positions under communism from holding government office. Trials about the crimes of those days end without a verdict, as in the case of the murder of the miners at the Wujek coal mine. The trail started in 1991 and ran continuously until 2007 without the legal process producing any verdict.
Characters: Adaś (monologue)
We know Adaś already, we know that Adaś draws, that Adaś has Down's syndrome.
Adaś portrays his world for us, opens it up for us, creates it from the beginning to the end. With nouns. Starting from the fingernail, he expands and comprehends space, controls it and creates it. He becomes a demiurge. He becomes everything he knows, everything he's seen, and everything that is further away than he can see.
Characters: Lesiu (monologue)
Lesiu invites everyone aboard a metaphoric Titanic, orchestra, space for the chosen, and invited guests, but the text we hear has something ominous, the place of pleasure is blocked by an entry shaft closed with a screw. The windows are said to be hermetically sealed, every one is checked, oxygen distributed. The characters themselves withdraw from us and flee from something that appals them in the outside world, or perhaps "we” create a situation where certain people prefer not to share our life with us, even at the price of a "shallow breath“. Possibly, (through our ignorance and lack of understanding) each of us constructs a room for them which is sealed by an entry shaft, because we are convinced that is the best place for them.
Characters: Adaś, Zibelda, Teresa, Agni, Jerzy, the poet, Lesiu
This is a scene of hope, optimistic because of the shared optimism. You are in a place worshiped just as much by "normals" as well as "others" – a shopping mall, the temple to modern materiality and a different world – a world of colours, accessibility, sounds and people, lots of people. No one remains alone here, you can get everywhere, touch, look at, and try everything. You get a sense of community, of unity. The "otherness“ dwindles, there are no barriers, "we“ and "they“ – everyone meets on one level.