“Jayne telephones” is a list of six-hundred most commonly used women’s names (derived from the 1990 US census) paired with the six-hundred most commonly used verbs. The pairs are listed in order of their ranking beginning first with the most common. The list begins with “Mary is” and ends with “Christi devotes.” The list is bound in a newsprint book that resembles a catalog or telephone book and is passed among a group of participants who read it aloud.
“Jayne telephones” is both one of the pairs in the list and the title of the performance. The odd specificity of this alternative spelling points to the destined-seeming quality of every name in the list, alternative spelling or not. It also points towards the historic emergence of women into professional work as organizers and vehicles of information (such as librarians, typists, archivists, secretaries and telephone operators) who are discouraged from outward comment, yet wield the power of subverting meaning through subtextual or extratextual means.
The performances to date have been contemplative and charged with the genuine emotional and intellectual engagement of the participants and punctuated by moments of humor. (For example, “Dawn breaks” and “Crystal watches” are coincidental pairs.)
The work presents a defined framework of meaning and is an invitation to use this framework to cast associative lines of meaning that lead to deeply personal, nuanced feeling.