“I’m not from here I guess I never will be.”
This initial phrase echoes the earliest lyric in Anglo-Saxon verse from, “the Wanderer.” The speaker had been fired from his job and literally had no place to call home. From this point on the act of wandering becomes his identity and the structure of the ensuing verse.
Similarly, the first line of Title and Deed, by Will Eno, is an immediate establishment of the concept of ‘place’ and with that the implicit creation of inside vs outside. Man, the protagonist, establishes himself from the first line as an outsider giving the audience the role of insider. Similar to “The Wanderer” his search for place and home become the architecture of the ensuing play.
This first line is a new concept of American speech, the sound of which has not been heard on stage for 50 years since Tennessee Williams’s Tom says, “This play is memory.” Throughout The Glass Menagerie this concept of memory structures the action and references such as “rose colored” remind the audience of the initial statement. In Title and Deed, the sense of memory and place are the rhythmic subjects of Man’s discourse throughout the play.
Home and all that word entails, is the constant reference point of Man’s discourse. “Home where I’m from, that is, home where the hat’s hanging and the placenta’s buried. I doubt you’ve ever heard of it.” This short phrase establishes at once the quotidian banalities of a cap on a hook and the ancient traditions surrounding birth and death as the polar extremes of home and therefore of life. The discourse of home is furthered by the phase, “We all have a funny little map in our head that divides the world into home and away.” This evocation of cartography and our methods of orientation and marking our place in the world address a second method of defining place. Finally the title of the play, Title and Deed, describes a third definition of home: the legal registration of ownership and the comfort of securing out place in the world.
A second major theme interwoven with the idea of home is a repeating discourse of words and their meaning as they connect to place. “Trace the origin of any word and, if you are half a man, and I can say without bragging I am, or half a woman which is sort of my type, you’ll shed some serious tears at the long and trembling history of these frail little sounds, made up out of nowhere.” The idea that sounds are no place until brought together into the community of words evokes the longing Man feels for place and home.
Title and Deed is published by Oberon Books, London www.oberonbooks.com