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The American author Gertrude Stein (1874 - 1946) moved to France in 1902 and lived there for the next 42 years. During that she wrote almost every day, in pencil, in notebooks of the kind used by French schoolchildren. Over the years, as she filled the notebooks up with her poems, plays, novels and essays, she lined them up on a long shelf. At the time of her death, only a small portion of these accumulated writings had been published.
A Simple Thing takes pages from these notebooks and juxtaposes them to Thomas Leabhart's body writing-corporeal mime, based on the technique developed by Etienne Decroux in Paris during many of the same year Stein was writing there. The cubist spirit informs Decroux's work as well as Stein's.
A story line as such does not exist here (as it usually does not in Stein's writing). Whereas the verbal text (which plays with repetition) speaks of memory, resemblance, confusion and loss, the movement text explores surprise, imbalance, sudden shifts of weight and emphasis, and stages of consciousness, all of which have metaphorical potential. The movement text does not seek to mirror the verbal text, yet the structural problems they explore are similar.