Bald Women on a Balcony
BALD WOMEN ON A BALCONY - summary
The story is about three very different women who have one thing in common - they all have cancer. Two of them have a poor prognosis, one of them a far better one. During their treatment they are forced to share the same space - both physically and psychologically - and deal with their lives.
The following is a short introduction to the characters and their next of kin:
OLIVIA is about 27 years old. She is a nearly qualified economist. She is a woman of action, who rejects every attempt at reflection and in-depth analysis as "emotional nonsense" and "sentimentality". In other words she is the perfect patient - calm, efficient, cooperative. She follows the treatment timetable and uses her time well. It is necessary to be as active as possible. During and between her chemotherapy sessions, Olivia studies economics. Any time in between she works on her appearance. Her hair, like Gunnel´s, has fallen out as a result of the treatment, but unlike GUNNEL, OLIVIA has a number of elegant wigs.Despite her youth, no-one comes to visit OLIVIA apart from OSKAR. She has always got by on her own and done a good job of it. She will do a good job of this - too!
GUNNEL is 45 years old, a psychologist, as is her husband GREGER. They have two teenage children. GUNNEL is OLIVIA´S opposite in every way: she does not care what she looks like and shows her emotions without restraint. The realisation that she will most likely die and leave her young teenage children behind, at a time in their lives when they need her most, is extremely painful to her. Both GUNNEL and her husband GREGER strongly believe that the disease and the mind are connected. When he comes to visit her, the two of them use visualisation techniques.
HEDWIG is 65 years of age. She has no visitors. However, she has a good time in the ward during treatment - despite the arguing, or perhaps because of it. She has not had this much company for many years - either physical or in any other form.
Who is LOUIS? He plays the guitar on the veranda next door. The women argue about: where he is from, what he is playing, how well he plays, his occupation, his status, how old he is ... LOUIS is both real and unreal. A man whom the women can project everything onto - their feelings, thoughts, memories, their anger. At times the women are pretty mean, both to the men who come to visit them, and to one another.
The dramatist herself, Marianne Goldman has said in interviews that she wrote the play filled with a sense of revenge, anger and delight at the prospect of turning the idea that a sick person is good, and a sick woman really good - on its head.
Bald Women on a Balcony was nominated to represent Sweden as the best Nordic play 96 (organised by the Nordic Theatre Union). Here is the Swedishjury´s motivation:
"The subject is frightening, but once you have overcome your own discomfort, you become gradually more and more captivated, amused and moved by the fate of these three women. A fate that is all too familiar and yet one you would like to suppress. Leading up to the inevitable end, Goldman skilfully expands the perspective of the play and, using the power of poetry, manages to transform human experience into a light and hopeful metaphor for the meaning of our lives."