A single-serve soup packet, a little bottle with the smell of childhood, a little toy gun. – These objects related to solitude were brought by the audience to the first shows of Home Alone by researcher and artist Jean-Lorin Sterian at lorgean theatre, the only living-room theater from Romania. At the end of the performances, they were kindly asked to tell their stories. At the entrance, the audience symbolically received a receipt with the words »value of the loneliness object« written on it.
I think the perception of loneliness comes when finding oneself in a context appearing to have different vectors from yours. I have always imagined that absolute solitude was felt by »the empirical researchers,« called wizards by hostile history. Claudiu
I know nobody reads Eminescu (the national Romanian poet) nowadays, least of all in French … Dragos
This object offers simple, extremist solutions, without discriminations. A delicate gun which may end any loneliness, but will not: Guess what? It’s a tooooy. Ana
I am obsessed with the idea of loneliness within a couple. I am obsessed with dysfunctional couples and I have unpleasant memories of the moments I was part of such a couple. I believe that if one cannot find his/her soul mate, it is more decent to be by oneself. Alone. That’s all. You and you. Loneliness by oneself is one toothbrush in the bathroom. Loneliness in two is lame. Sad. Don’t forget to buy a nice toothbrush! Rucsandra
I’ve been thinking a lot before separating from my cyan sock, as it was so beautiful. I was disappointed to see that other people had brought socks as well, but in two pieces. Mine seemed special. When Lorin took it out from the bag and asked »What’s its story?« It was an only sock. Alina
I work in a huge hall with 200 people, in an open space which destroys any kind of intimacy, and these earphones help me grant myself an impossible loneliness. Dan
My object – the phone – which I broke in a moment of discouragement and anger, when I felt I had nobody. Natalia
What were the names of the 8th grade pupils? What are the topics of my future letters? What playlist do I have today? What is the difference between I have to and I want to? Why do I want to work for you? Why does Scarlet O’Hara make me angry? What should I cook? What prayers do we use today? How could one be forever young? How come girls are a waste of time for boys? How does a boy fall in love without realizing it? All my answers or others’ answers are buried right here. Here are the moments when I had nothing to do. Diana
It is a present received for Saint Andrew, from a gay friend. I have only used it once because of its unreliable material. A little before the show, I run into the dildo from Liviu, and I liked the idea it represented. Solitude, obviously. Maria M.
A piece of Sahara. Desert = emptiness. Scary and arid. Rigid. All this means loneliness for me. Catalina
My object was a lipstick. Someone wrote with it on the wall at the subway when we were not able to talk, then he gave it to me. The people totally ignored us. After a week, the handwriting had disappeared. Vlad
I brought the weever. I took it three years ago from Sulina. Its link with loneliness? I broke up with my boyfriend then, in Sulina. We had been together for six years. So, long story short: I was by myself in Sulina, the weever – which is now with you, and so on. Elena
Every time I put the diving goggles and dived into the water, I had the feeling that the glass wall of an aquarium was between me and the rest of the beings. But it was me in the aquarium, losing my connection to the others … Bogdan
Carmen: In an access of atrocious loneliness, I fiercely turned off my computer and went to the Museum of Geology, hoping some fossil would want to know me. The custodian could have been a good match, but I was tough and surprised to hear myself saying, in the tone of a divorced woman: »Two tickets, please.« Carmen: If you don’t like it, you can change it. Jean-Lorin: Was it spontaneous? When you told the story after performance it seemed a bit planned. Carmen: It is not totally true. Do I have to tell the truth? Jean-Lorin. Well… The Museum of Geology was laughing at me and in order to prove that I am an independent woman with two pairs of balls, I quickly penetrated it, and bought as many tickets as I was offered … There was a maximum of two, I put them in my pocket and figured it out: Even the ticket has a friend and plays with it in my coat. Jean-Lorin: … Carmen: This is the truth. Jean-Lorin: … Carmen: ? Carmen
The telephone that never rings. Ileana
I produced a sad destiny for it; I deliberately left it without its pair as I had nothing else to bring… left alone. There goes for loneliness: inutility … kind of. Not a philosophy after all. Nora
The apple I have brought was the only food left in the fridge maybe because it was so beautiful that I was not able to eat it. First I thought, well, I have nobody to fill up my fridge, and then I realized the reason for the apple being there by itself. But as it was by itself and too beautiful, I could not lay a finger on it. Andreea
Jean-Lorin: I brought the soup pack for one person. Corina Bratu: Ah. Corina Bratu: I did not know. Jean-Lorin: You have one cup of soup. Jean-Lorin: Witnessing the solitary evenings … Corina Bratu: I figured it out. Jean-Lorin: When you don’t have to share. Jean-Lorin: And it is specifically designed for lonely people. Jean-Lorin: It’s kind of sad … Corina Bratu: Do you mean the taste? Jean-Lorin: Haha! Corina Bratu: The quantity. Jean-Lorin: No, the quantity. Jean-Lorin: Ya. Jean-Lorin
The title of the play Leiden kommt von Leidenschaft (suffering comes from passion) (a play of words consisting of Leiden = suffering and Leidenschaft = passion), directly refers to the fact that suffering is inherent to passion. Viviana
It is a reproduction of Picasso’s painting, seen in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, which I did not visit with him, so it was the way it should have been. And he was my artist, and I was his muse, and we had dozens of mornings. He used to caress me and let me sleep until he came back. He kissed me on my forehead. And then, there were mornings when he did not notice me anymore. Corina
I am so lonely that my little carpet from the entrance looks impeccable. No dust. Would it have been different if I had a little carpet saying »Welcome?« Irina
There was a present in the little box. I threw the present away, only the box remained. Silviu
When one is asked to practically express one’s view on an abstract concept, but so close to one’s soul, there are difficulties in relevance. I realized that I actually faced a very simple reality. And thus, many people bring a toothbrush, or another object they have in their homes which easily frames them in real, normal life. Walking to lorgean theatre, I was sure I had a belonging in my purse to express a minimum attribute of loneliness, a blush or an older bill. But I saw on a pillar the poster announcing the disappearance of a female puppy. Monici
The bauble bought by me and Milos from Amzei Square (just opposite Angst). It had a sister, who is now at Milos’ place. And thus, he was left alone. It is a little bent and female-like (he’s a babe). He is lonelier now. Vlad
It’s a story about loneliness and my lonely toothbrush. It was my first noticeable sign, and the first time I realized a new life. I glued two stills from a spot. Maybe it helps. :)) Claudia
The bottle by itself is an object made to be held with one hand in order to be drunk from by one mouth, for one person only. »Drink me!« it says, and one does. Until exhaustion. Until emptiness. I woke up one morning with this bottle of Chivas in my bed. Gruia
We have high-tech objects entering deep into our lives, produced by strong brands, protected by dozens of patents and laws of intellectual property. We have, on a parallel market much more difficult to control, »folkloric« objects. Lorin told me that the topic was »loneliness« and that I had to bring an object so that Lala can guide me to the apartment. I brought two little hugging objects for salt and pepper. The kind half of the world’s population has, I think. The small figurines can be put in a pornographic position while eating one’s soup, traveling better than computers do. They are never left alone. Just do not break one. Cristi
The »object« was a loneliness kit. A measuring cup, made of good ceramic which gives you a comforting sensation. Lime tea, well known for its calming effect. Maria
You invited me at your play in a moment where I was feeling so complete, not at all lonely … And I chose a generic object symbolizing alienation in urban areas, most of all … And I do not have any memory of feelings and sensations. And thus, of the objects accompanying them … Maria
I considered the topic in my mind, and then started to look for something in my home. The backup variant was the sock. But I found the ribbon … I liked its color. It was thin and delicate. So, as a guide line (bla bla). And you called me, and I told you I was undecided, that I had three objects and I didn’t know which one to choose. And you said, »Come on, you may link with someone tonight … at least one …« Something like that. So, I decided. Catalina
It is not such a big deal with my egg. I bought it a long time ago from a toy store. I thought it represented me as I was alone, having nobody to share anything with, and that egg represents my desire to make more for someone and not to do it all by myself. It sounds so bad … It is something like »waiting for him.« God, it sounds so bad. Irina
Because writing is the most solitary activity I know. Because suicide is the most solitary destiny. Because solitude is contagious (like writing and suicide), the evidence is that Sylvia Plath’s son has just killed himself, and I needed to write about it. Maria
When everything one can caress is the keys of a worn out keyboard, it means one is quite lonely. Cristina
I brought the watch because everything that changes when I am by myself is time. Time passes by really weirdly, slowly, as it passed by me, but also quite rapidly, and I find myself wasting it. I can do almost nothing, I usually do not eat. It is not a declaration of love or a pleading for couples or collectivity. And that watch, in my kitchen, making a noise (a noise which did not stop in the plastic bag on the way to your place). Ana
I won two tickets to Roisin Murphy’s concert at a contest and I had nobody to go with. Charlee
This is a leitmotiv in the houses of many people living by themselves: the jam jar, well erased with the spoons, with thin, colored furrows. It is usually abandoned in the most unexpected places: on the nightstand, or on a shelf among the books. One can mentally recompose, in a second, their TV evenings, hurried meals, endless mobile conversations. Its presence in a house can tell you a story about solitude. Diana
As a little girl, I used to hug my Tica, the monkey, when asleep. I think I gave her up at the age of ten. Now, Tica is in a drawer at my parents’ place. In my teenage period and later, when I was in a group of unknown people I used to cover my belly with a pillow. It helped me and gave me a comforting and warm sensation, so I relaxed. Around my 20s, I started to sleep while hugging a little pillow. I needed to hug somebody. When I did not sleep by myself, I used to cede my little pillow to my beloved and hug him. Loneliness was thus fooled. Corina
There are four of us in the office I work in, and (oral) communication is almost non-existent, the main reason being the earphones everybody wears during the working schedule. We communicate very well on messenger. The earphones isolate us. They help us be by ourselves. Neli
I am obsessed with old age, which I invariably associate with loneliness. The small old man made of white plastic? It was a model made by architects, with blocks made of polystyrene and miniature trees and minuscule people spread on the pavements among the buildings. I had no idea there are so many patterns. Women with high heel shoes, business people with suitcases, teenagers on skateboards, etc. There was somewhere on the edge this minuscule old man bent over his walking stick. I don’t know why I took it. I kept it for a long time on my desk, up on a wooden support, like a miniature sculpture. Maria
It was my grandfather’s. He left for war with it and kept it for two years. Towards the end of the war, he deserted and came back, walking, from the Done to Bucharest. I brought it because I wanted to make a public history out of a small family history and maybe, well, to be kept. Alex
I bought or received the ballpoint pens when I was a kid and they seemed to me extremely valuable, linked to the magical and endless pencil, and to the various drawings I could make. This is why I hid them at the bottom of the drawer with »my stuff« and I found them every time I was looking for something there, which usually happened when I was by myself. And thus, over the years I count more and more fugitively, I found these pens dozens of times. I don’t remember the value I initially gave them, but they remained in the drawer due to this »value,« which transformed into something ambiguous, without continuation. Gin
I brought the only fork that I had in the kitchen. Since then I eat only with plastic single-use forks. Doru
A door mat with the word »Welcome« written on it, very clean as no one has ever stepped on it. A telephone which never rings. An unpaired sock. A lipstick used when one person was unable to talk. A book by Romanian national poet Eminescu in French, read by nobody except the owner. A single-serve soup packet. A reproduction of a painting of Picasso, seen in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, where a girl should have gone with her boyfriend, but ended there by herself. A pillow hugged during moments of loneliness. A little bottle with sand from the Sahara in it. A jackknife, the only object from a grandfather who had been in the war. A vase remained from the separation of goods. A warmer. Two tickets to the museum, bought in order to seem like a couple. An unused condom. A little bottle with the smell of childhood loneliness spent away from the mother. Another little toy gun. Voyeuristic binoculars. A solitary toothbrush in a porcelain glass after the other had been packed away with the other stuff from the boyfriend. Earphones isolating you at the workplace. A Rubik’s cube taken from a room which has never been visited by anyone. Another toothbrush. Another phone, broken in despair. Other earphones. A little toy gun which may end loneliness. A CD with 16 songs dedicated to loneliness. A black worn keyboard: the only caressed object.
The play begins when somebody calls you on the phone. You find out the address, the date, and the hour when you have to be there. You take the elevator after you receive a ticket in exchange for the object you brought. This must be your personal symbol for loneliness.
Then you sit down on the floor, in the dark, amongst people you do not know. Lorin plays some music. Then, a monologue follows. A few people sit on a chair in front of you and say some stuff. They are using an informal kind of language. The theatricality they employ is different from one speaker to the next.
Stories are being told. Online chat conversations are being read out loud. You get the feeling that everything can be part of the play. Hesitations and accidents too. Even the lamp shade at the back of the chair, which is the only light within this room.
»Feeling lonely« becomes »being alone,« without the negative vibe. And maybe only then, does the play end, fulfilling its therapeutic function. Mircea Nicolae
At the end, you have to say something as well. You brought something from home. It’s your turn to explain why this thing is connected to loneliness. Willy-nilly, you end up making a confession. You listen and are being listened to. A few days after, Lorin will send you an email asking you to write a short text, the story of your object. Both the object and your story will end up in an exhibition.
The theatrical representations staged in the living room and the resulting exhibition of objects are actually parts of a social experiment.
Your very presence within the public is part of a pre-determined script, which at some point will turn you into an actor during the play. This means that there is an overarching conceptual frame into which your behavior has been naively trapped.
You are the victim of a creator of social situations who will make you understand, against your will, that any human behavior can be considered proper theater.
And once you take a look at the objects in the exhibition and you read the stories that accompany them, you end up smiling all the way through.
Loneliness ends up looking less bleak than it seems to all of us when we are vulnerable. Most of the time it looks childish.