Emma Santos (1943-1983) was a wildcard, elusive and impossible to pin down.
She was the author of eight works: ‘La Malcastrée’, ‘J’ai tué Emma S.’, ‘L’itinéraire psychiatrique’, ‘La Loméchuse’, ‘Effraction au réel’, ‘L’Illulogicienne’, ‘Écris et tais-toi’, ‘La Punition d’Arles’. She interpreted her own works on stage, directed by Claude Régy in 1976.
Emma Santos’ writing style is strong, raw and poetic. Stripped right back, her work is both dark and luminous. This staging is mainly drawn from three of her texts, ‘La Malcastrée’, ‘J’ai tué Emma S.’, and ‘La Loméchuse’, with the aim of making her voice heard, revisiting and airing her themes which are both universal and contemporary (solitude, sexuality, language, madness and death).
Emma Santos cultivated this voice, often referred to as one of “madness” compared to a supposed “normal” one. Demanding her right to folly, she presented madness as a condition just as relevant as normality and on some occasions, as a possible alternative to the normal range of reason.
She relates her powerlessness against her illness which psychiatry had not yet fully defined. Madness remains a mystery, impossible to define, structured yet unpredictable.
The play rests on this dimension, in the realm of the unconscious where real and unreal overlap, taking its meaning from absurdity itself.
This is not a story, there is no possible chronological order.. It “slides” around, leaving the dimension of the spoken word to enter that of silence, gesture, emptiness, right up to the brink and then the final breakdown.
“They call her the madwoman.
They might be right.
They’re undoubtedly right… there are more of them
That’s their problem, their responsibility.
She prefers to be called the ‘illulogicienne’.
She follows the logic of her illusions.
Her own logic.
‘Illulogism’ is : to challenge all, contradict all.
For the pleasure of challenging, the pleasure of contradicting.
Wishing not to give in too quickly.
To stop them thinking that they can do as they like, straight away.
To say no – even if it the best policy would be to say yes.
It means to stand strong.
One can still ask oneself: how to have your head on your shoulders even when it was cut off accidentally?
You have to go on living headless. Too bad… all the better.
You shout… You write.
…My scar smiles at you.
When I was twelve, I picked up my head from the pavement.
Someone had just cut it off by accident.
A law-abiding civil servant, on his way to work.
First stage. A small 2 CV car. On eighteen months’ credit.
They won’t forgive me.
I shouldn’t have been there. I should just have been elsewhere. What were you thinking of, being in the path of a crazy car!”
Emma Santos was born in Paris,
‘L’Illulogicienne’ was her first novel, 1970.