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Chester Hawkins

first performed on October 27, 2013
Panoply Performance Laboratory, Brooklyn, NY
performed three times in 2013


Strasburg, VA


Refusing to face that which troubles us and using medication to make us forget: this is the premise of “Madness.” I walk out, dressed in business attire with a white head-covering that blinds me. I can’t see anything (hopelessness) as I stand quietly during three minutes of recorded silence.

Layers of drug side-effect information from commercials intermingle with a news report on deaths from depression medication. I blindly throw myself about the floor, eventually making my way to the first row of chairs. The storm of voices quiet to a short spoken piece on individuality by Charles Bukowski. I stand still and pull a knife from my pocket (dependency and loss of self).

As soon as Bukowski’s voice finishes, a wall of noise blares from the PA system and I put my face to the back wall and simulate splitting my mouth, Black Dahlia style (suicide). The half cup of blood I have been holding in my mouth from the start pours onto the white wall. I bend sideways to the right, then back to the left as far as I can go while standing upright. This creates a mild blood rainbow. The noise ends and I remove the head-covering.

I am unsure of how the performance was received. There was a small crowd of people. Three people talked to me and seemed to like it. I left that night empty. Zero tension. Relaxed. Back to baseline.

This was the first of three performances of “Madness.” Each time seems to get more physical and more messy. My own blood has started entering the equation.