Written and directed by Chazz Dean
Created and performed by Chazz Dean, Kurt Fulton, Kim X Knowlton, Melanie Monios, and Maggie Siena
Original music by Joshua Fried
Found music from the collection of Pascal Marand
Set design by David Ward
Lighting design by Lori A. Dawson

Dance Theater Workshop, NYC      April 1989

Additional performances:
March 1989 – BACA Downtown, Brooklyn, (work-in-progress)
1989 – Artists Space, NYC (excerpts)

Bloody Mary
Prologue
Table Section #1: The Story of Helen Quaye
The Dead
Table Section #2: The Story of Alice Dodd
Angels
Table Section #3: The Story of Catherine Swan
Witches
Table Section #4: The Story of Reverend Brodie
Demon
Table Section #5: Epilogue

In November of 1988, David White, the artistic director of Dance Theater Workshop (DTW),
contacted Watchface to fill dates that had opened on his spring calendar of 1989. David
had been instrumental in securing Watchface’s engagement of Sin at the Museum of
Contemporary Art in Los Angeles earlier that year. The spring slot he was now offering would
be the first presentation of a Watchface show at DTW, more known for showcasing new
choreography than performance art and theater. Expecting the birth of their son just weeks
after the DTW offer, Iris Rose and James Siena were not able to participate. Of the remaining
members of the group, it was Chazz Dean who was most interested in taking advantage of
this opportunity to develop a new work. For some time he had been gestating an idea for a
performance based on his interest in the supernatural and how it has been represented in
various media. The remaining members of Watchface accepted Chazz’s proposal, and Kurt
Fulton, Kim X Knowlton, Melanie Monios, and Maggie Siena joined as performers and fellow
collaborators. DTW program

With rehearsals set to begin after the new year, Chazz immediately began working on the
scripted parts of the show along with outlining the sections that would be created by the cast
through Watchface methodology. The show would include parody of both fictional films and
books dealing with the paranormal combined with ideas of the supernatural based on
psychic research plus folklore and legend. The sections would alternate between scripted
scenes, with each highlighting the story of one character, followed by an abstract section
that dealt with that character’s specific paranormal connection or experience.

One of Chazz’s biggest influences for the scripted scenes, which came to be called table
sections, was Shirley Jackson’s book The Haunting of Hill House and the movie that was
based on it. The plot line Chazz devised to frame the scenes profiling the characters
presented the research of Dr. Richard Reinhart, an investigator of the paranormal (played by
Chazz). He had invited four people known to have experienced unexplained phenomena
to an abandoned church where he hoped they would reveal their encounters with the
unknown. Kurt played Reverend Jeffrey Brody, a Catholic priest questioning his faith; Kim’s
character was Alice Dodd, a naïve, sheltered woman who had visions of the divine as a
young child; Melanie portrayed Helen Quaye, a cynic whose family suffered poltergeists;
and Maggie, as Catherine Swan, played an author whose stories were laced with witchcraft.

The performance began with a prologue in three parts. A pool of light captured Maggie in a
downstage corner of the performance space holding a frame and focusing into it as though
into a mirror. She chanted the line “I believe in Mary Worth” several times until letting go with
a blood curdling scream and the stage went black. Mary Worth” script The vignette was based
on a variation of the Bloody Mary legend in which a ghost is conjured and said to materialize
in a mirror when her name is called multiple times. Bloody Mary program note The apparition’s
appearance could be benign or malevolent and could foretell the identity of a future
husband or appear as the Grim Reaper and steal one’s soul. This play on what is good and
what is evil, what is true and what is false continued throughout the performance.
vintage Halloween card

The lights came up on the full cast moving to the song “Down So Low” by blues singer Tracy
Nelson. Chazz wanted to start the show with a meditation on mortality and the biggest
unknown – what happens after death. He chose this song because it could be interpreted as
a widow mourning a lost love. This section of the prologue, called “Funeral Dance,” was
followed by a poem, written by Chazz, questioning the soul’s afterlife. ”Water” poem

The focus then switched to the first of the five table sections with the cast of characters mid-
conversation. The table scenes were presented as traditional theater, telling a linear story
with actors portraying characters reciting lines from a set script, which was relatively rare for
Watchface. This first scene set the premise of the story and introduced Dr. Reinhart and his
guests. Melanie’s character, Helen Quaye, told her tale of ghosts and poltergeists that had
haunted her life. The script contained a hint of satire in the clichéd dialogue and the iconic
characters, recognizable to those familiar with suspense and horror films of the mid-20th
century. The audience responded with amused understanding. Within each of the table
scenes, a theatrical trick represented paranormal activity. In this first scene, the audience
saw strange movements under the table shifting the tablecloth, inspiring more laughter from
the spectators. One of the actors was simply manipulating the covering with a hidden stick.

The following complimentary abstract section, The Dead, presented the sordid story of a
young woman until her death and abrupt transition into a troubled and troublesome spirit,
revealed through a possessed medium experiencing her torment. The tale was told in the
style of barkers at a midway presenting their latest curiosity, layered with movements
derived through Watchface performance techniques.

The second table scene focused on shy Alice Dodd, her divine visions, and their notoriety.
The movement section that followed featured images associated with religious figures,
traditions, and phenomena including a spontaneous stigmata courtesy of Halloween blood
capsules. The musical accompaniment was a creepy found recording of “White Christmas.”

The scene that followed showed the group asking questions of a Ouija board. The answers
disclosed that Catherine Swan belonged to a lineage of witches and that she had betrayed
them in her writing by revealing their true identities. In the ensuing section, Witches, the cast
recited spells to acid rock and enacted a bad drug trip climaxing in an orgiastic overdose
while a strobe light created tableaux of the action.

As foreshadowed in the preceding table scenes, in his own story, Reverend Brody revealed
his lack of faith and his descent into darkness following an encounter with the
personification of evil, the devil himself. The ultimate confrontation with the supernatural
followed – an exorcism. Chazz portrayed a possessed boy; the three women, the occupying
demons; and Kurt, the exorcist. The scene ended with a twist – was the priest/exorcist
actually the devil?

In the epilogue, Dr. Rheinhart lamented his lack of supernatural experience and his
disappointment that his quest to explain the paranormal had led nowhere. He admitted that
his fear of death had motivated this search to verify an afterlife. “I just have to know that
when I die it’s not all over,” he muttered. He had actually missed every clue manifested
during his evening of investigation, including the final one, as Helen Quaye levitated above
the rest of the guests at the table (thanks to a stack of telephone books placed on her chair).

These supernatural occurrences that highlighted the table scenes received a great reaction
from the audiences. In one of the scenes, a blackout interrupted the dialogue; the lights
came up a moment later to reveal the cast in eerie red light in a tableau of sexual
debauchery. A beat later the lights blacked out again to come up the next moment on the
scene exactly where it had left off. This technique was used a second time, this time
revealing the cast as the slain victims in a slasher film. The trick that received the greatest
response was during the Ouija board scene. Melanie turned upstage, as her character had
become tired of the antics of the Ouija board. While smoking a cigarette she secretly filled
her mouth with fabric flowers. She turned back to the game and suddenly coughed up
ghostly ectoplasm in the form of the flowers. The action went unnoticed by the other
characters as they continued their questioning of the board, but the audience reacted with
boisterous laughter.

Frequent collaborator Joshua Fried composed a moody, underlining score played during the
table sections. Joshua mixed traditional instrumental sounds with vocal moans, groans, and
shrieks. Additional music was provided by Melanie’s husband Pascal Marand from his
collection of found records. David Ward, Chazz’s partner at the time, created the scenic
design.

The engagement at DTW was the only presentation of Bloody Mary in its entirety. DTW mailer
Sections were previewed at BACA Downtown BACA postcard prior to the DTW premiere, and
later that year, excerpts were performed at Artists Space. The exposure at DTW brought
interest to the group from a new audience – mostly from the world of dance and those
interested in performance but not well versed in the downtown club/performance scene and
its changing venues.

By the time Bloody Mary opened at DTW, White, Watchface’s next presentation for DTW, was
already booked for the following February.