Andre Gregory: My Dinner With Andre, Final Speech (1981)


Andre: You know, in the sexual act there’s that moment of complete forgetting, which is so incredible. Then in the next moment you start to think about things: work on the play, what you’ve got to do tomorrow. I don’t know if this is true of you, but I think it must be quite common. The world comes in quite fast. Now that again may be because we’re afraid to stay in that place of forgetting, because that again is close to death. Like people who are afraid to go to sleep. In other words: you interrelate and you don’t know what the next moment will bring, and to not know what the next moment will bring brings you closer to a perception of death!

You see, that’s why I think that people have affairs. Well, I mean, you know, in the theater, if you get good reviews, you feel for a moment that you’ve got your hands on something. You know what I mean? I mean it’s a good feeling. But then that feeling goes quite quickly. And once again you don’t know quite what you should do next. What’ll happen? Well, have an affair and up to a certain point you can really feel that you’re on firm ground. You know, there’s a sexual conquest to be made, there are different questions: does she enjoy the ears being nibbled, how intensely can you talk about Schopenhauer in some elegant French restaurant. Whatever nonsense it is. It’s all, I think, to give you the semblance that there’s firm earth.

Well, have a real relationship with a person that goes on for years, that’s completely unpredictable. Then you’ve cut off all your ties to the land and you’re sailing into the unknown, into uncharted seas. I mean, you know, people hold on to these images: father, mother, husband, wife, again for the same reason: ’cause they seem to provide some firm ground. But there’s no wife there. What does that mean, a wife? A husband? A son? A baby holds your hands and then suddenly there’s this huge man lifting you off the ground, and then he’s gone. Where’s that son?


~ by ohkrapp on December 16, 2008.

2 Responses to “Andre Gregory: My Dinner With Andre, Final Speech (1981)”

  1. i’m going to be hyper-busy for the next week with school and work, so expect a lot of prose/poetry.

    this speech comes from louis malle’s my dinner with andre, which is just an extended conversation between the theatre director andre gregory, and actor-playwright-guy from the princess bride who yells ‘inconceivable!’ (and diane keaton’s formerly ‘devastating’ lover from woody allen’s manhattan), wallace shawn.

    it was an original film at its release and has yet to produce any worthy imitators (although i know some big Coffee and Cigarettes fans). it was also the only film that ‘situationniste’ guy debord supposedly found palatable after his rejection of the medium..

    the last quarter of the film is excellent, when shawn starts to respond forcefully to gregory, instead of merely listening and prodding. the latter’s recount of polish theatre guru jerzy grotowski’s (whose methods were the foundation of the experimental theatre program i did at NYU and whose collected thoughts, Towards a Poor Theatre, i am now re-reading) workshops must have seemed otherworldly at the time. now they merely evoke the vacuity of the ‘spirit exercises’ that still plague a lot of theatre methods (and which grotowski, if i recall, later came to condemn)..

    anyway, this passage mainly strikes me for one profound, counter-intuitive thought:

    ‘have a real relationship with a person that goes on for years, that’s completely unpredictable. then you’ve cut off all your ties to the land and you’re sailing into the unknown, into uncharted seas.’

    i guess you can decide whether or not you agree. i think i do.

  2. The gears in my brain go click click click. The nuance of romantic relationships baffle, fascinate and scare the life out of me, in that -jump off the cliff again- sort of way. That is a great passage. For me, it really turns convention on its head, and I’m all for that. I think my problems lie within convention… I’ll blame it, it’s so easy to blame convention.

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