Can you Please Tell Me Your Name?

»Self-portrait is a play about my identity. Over the years, I collected my personal records (i. e., medical examinations, radiographies, vaccines etc.) and considered the role that heritage plays in our lives. It could be interrogative, an inquiry, or even a manifesto against all the questionnaires that we have to answer during our lives. But it is not these things. It is just a self-portrait, perhaps an automatic self-portrait.« – Ana Mendes

»I love Ana Mendes’ play Self-Portrait. I love the rhythm of her words. The voice of authority she chooses to interrogate her, unseen, from the pre-recorded audio that echoes around the space, above her, behind her, in front of her. He is a man. He is English and he is speaking English, his accent implying that he is well educated, or at least vaguely middle-class and from the South East of England. His voice implies his privilege, his power. He could be an immigration officer, border control, a police officer, or a medical professional. He is an interrogator. He chases her with his questions, tries to trap her, trick her into condemning herself out of confusion, or through sheer boredom at his repetition.

»I believe so.«
»Not as far as I am aware.«
»I have been told so.«
»Definitely not.«
»As I have already told you, that is not the case.«

Mendes’ own voice plays with repetition, with the capacity to say the same thing in in a million ways. There is a deliciously delicate humour in the precision of these replies. I enjoy the way she begins to use her responses to shift the power between her and the disembodied voice. Her words become a poem of sounds and images, of snippets of memories and family stories that disrupt the interrogators’ attempts to steer and shape her. I enjoy her presence alone on the stage, made small by the voice from the speakers above her. I enjoy her words as an act of political and personal resistance, as an act of reclaiming ones own narrative. I watch her. I do not take my eyes off of her.« – Alice Mackenzie