Alfred, Gwen, and Steve
By Jean Ann Douglas• Ecclesiastes 7:21
I bought the wig and mustache when we moved offices.
The interior designer thought it would be a befitting status symbol if I had a private bathroom in the corner office.
In the old days, I would carry flats and patterned thigh-highs I would never wear into the bathroom, hidden in my shoulder bag.
In her new monologue Alfred, Gwen, and Steve, theater artist Jean Ann Douglass reflects on the theme of eavesdropping and Ecclesiastes 7:21.
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21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:
Jean Ann Douglas
Some of my most formative experiences involved hearing things that I wasn’t supposed to hear. I’ve overheard things that were painful to hear. I’ve overheard things that helped me understand people more deeply.
This passage struck me because it admonishes eavesdropping, not because of the intrusion on other’s privacy, but because the honest things that people say about you when they think you’re not listening might be painful to hear.
It also touches on power dynamics, and implies that people who are lower in status will always say bad things about people with higher status behind their backs. That may be true. Power is complicated.
I wanted to explore the act of purposefully eavesdropping, especially when you know that you will hear things that hurt. Things that are personal. There’s a part of me that wishes I could hear everything that people say about me when I’m not around, and I know that desire is dangerous.
Jean Ann Douglass is a performance artist whose original work has been seen at The Kitchen, CPR—Center for Performance Research, DUMBO Arts Festival, chashama, Monkeytown, Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, Lost Horizon Night Market, Marian Spore, FringeNYC, New Orleans Fringe Festival, and in rental trucks all over the country. She has collaborated on projects at 3LD, Trinity Rep, The Flea, Bushwick Starr, and on various streets and rooftops in Brooklyn. MFA: Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA), Brooklyn College. BFA: Dance and Theatre, Tulane University.