by Travis Jeppesen on May 28, 2009
As many of you know, my first play, Daddy, will be produced in June at the HAU Theater in Berlin. Bruce LaBruce recently wrote this nice essay on the play, which I thought I’d post here. Tickets to Daddy can be ordered directly from the HAU website.
Finally, the voice of a new generation has emerged. Took you long enough. If Hubert Selby, Jr., William Burroughs, Anthony Burgess, J.G. Ballard, and Dennis Cooper had a circle jerk, commingling all their spermatozoa into one primeval goo, then squeezed it into a turkey baster and presented it to Flannery O’Connor, imploring her to impregnate herself with its contents, nine months later out might stroll one Travis Jeppesen, the author of a new play called Daddy. It’s an ingenious little dramatic concoction involving all the modern pop shibboleths worth caring about: Marshall Applewhite and his Heaven’s Gate suicide cult; child rapist/bearer schoolteacher Mary Kay Letourneau and her boy groom; alien abduction, rape, and hybridization; shrapnel-riddled Iraqi war veterans banished to Guantanamo Bay. They’re all here, the thousand unnatural shocks that the new flesh is heir to, all in the imposing form of Daddy.
Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and educated in New York City (mentored, significantly, by author Bruce Benderson), Mr. Jeppesen made the wise decision, at a tender age, to escape the rotting new empire for the floppy, folded flesh of Old Europe, specifically the aged whores Prague and Berlin, who took him to their ample, drooping bosoms, heavy with history, and let him drink from the milk of human corruption. His literary ambitions stoked, he began to edit a literary journal called Blatt and wrote his saucy first novel, Victims. Now he assaults and insults us with a play that combines the reckless New Age dyslexia of America with the cantankerous, syphilitic wisdom of Europe, the “managerial class of the 21st Century”, as he astutely terms it. In fact, Mr. Jeppesen’s political analysis of the new world order is worthy of an extended quotation:
“The European, though she may gradually become extinct, still forms the managerial class of the 21st century. Primitive peoples who are unable to manage will always rely on the European’s bureaucratic expertise as the ultimate wellspring of material salvation. The American, who may be driven impotent by all the saturated fat in his diet, but can always gorge himself to death on the righteousness of his imperialist ambitions, will continue to view himself as Leader regardless of his flaccidity. It is much like the ceaseless competition between evolution and devolution: The American has God on his side, while the European’s salvation lies in her very godlessness. All her icons have been transformed into very profitable tourist attractions, easily recognizable signs offer reassurance in the only language that matters. It is not possible to get lost in the streets of European cities anymore – McDonald’s is never far. By feasting on our likenesses, we destroy all recognizable concepts of the other, put it safely in the realm of images, which is meant to be synonymous with illusion.”
But wait, before you get your knickers in a Gordian knot, please be aware that this polemic is delivered in Daddy not by some priggish professor, but by the character of Missus Pringles, a single white mother struggling to become an international theatrical celebrity even if it means abandoning her only son whose father was tragically eaten by walruses! In this play, astute political analysis is conveyed through broad neo-Ortonian farce, not bland didacticism. In fact, the conscience of the play, a stacked black Banji girl from the projects named Derika Taleisha Latorrah Alexander, raises American race relations to new heights with her homespun homilies, to wit: “Everybody got a Daddy. You either got one or you is one.” And when you add pornography, Judge Judy, Evangelical preaching, and the art of speaking of tongues to the mix, not to mention a cult of women whose members are each called Belinda and a superior alien race that speaks with its own distinctive vocabulary, it can be safely said that there is never a dull moment in Daddy.