“You’ll never get rid of us! / We’ll always be part of you.”
Do all murderers have no remorse? Are all victims helpless? Victimology is a collection of three plays with such a theme in mind – from a shackled, adopted daughter seeing murder as the killing of her bonds to her elders, to a lonely old lady, a victim struggling to claw out of solitude, to the vengeance victims hold even after death.
Jean, Adopted Caregiver – The Art of Making Curry
Being written as two separate characters allows her inner struggle to be physically seen by the audience. Despite the constant nagging from her elders fueling her desire to break free, she continues to have the same empathy and concentration on doing things appropriately – after many years of it being deeply embedded. At the end of the play, it summarises her inner struggle ultimately – the dilemma of wanting freedom, but possibly not knowing what to do with it in the end.
Widow, the Hoarder – The Widow
The Widow was probably written as a character who turned out to be a victim of time – using material possessions to keep track and progress of her life lest they all leave her in the end. The hoarding does suggest that she uses material possessions as a source of protection, especially when she is alone at home. At the same time, she guards these possessions with her life, defending her right to keep her house as it is, suggesting that external parties are intending to take charge of her life – the possible last thing she truly has.
Mimi (or Character B), in Zen Limbo – Mimi & Sonny at the Seventh Month Portal: When Karmic Credit Ends
A vengeful spirit at first, Mimi is cast aside other female spirits in the play, and her prolonged appearance through the play does show a heightened level of spirituality as compared to the other characters. Apart from her meditation, her spirit helping out and attempting to teach Sonny’s still-lewd-and-lustful spirit despite his responsibility in murdering her puts her in a higher ground of wisdom, which later leads to her moving on in the afterlife.
Generally speaking, conflicts between people happen due to a disagreement in ownership – ownership of ideas, credit, material things, land, intangible items etc… In this case, ownership and conflict seem to play a huge role in character motivations in all three plays.
In The Art of Making Curry, emotional blackmail and over-protection drives Jean to desperately seek ownership of her life, away from merciless servitude which is seen as the sole form of “gratefulness” as a foster child.
In The Widow, the widow seeks ownership and possession, using it as a comfort in a seemingly directionless life. A victim of time and solitude, ownership of everything and in this case, everyone, portrays itself as a physical record on how full her life seems to be.
In Mimi & Sonny at the Seventh Month Portal: When Karmic Credit Ends, Sonny (or character A) seeks ownership of women in his lust. Finding himself in the underworld, this ownership is transferred, when he crumbles within his own lust, which now takes ownership over him now that he is at the mercy of the seventh month portal and the vengeful souls of the lives he had taken.
Style & Structure
Victimology is a collection of plays Verena Tay wrote for the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition held in 1996, 2010, and 2011. Therefore, this small collection shows all three scripts – lines and stage directions alike. This brings out the pace of each story, allowing the readers to imagine the scene while keeping the writing concise. At the same time, the usage of mixed media within the stage directions bring out the “Show, Don’t Tell” aspect of things well enough.
For more information and to look at Verena Tay’s other works, click here.
In the meantime…