HERE'S WHAT I DID WITH MY BODY ONE DAY

My name is David Rée and my family kills.

David Rée is a geneticist and his father is French but left France in the mid-1960s after a series of unfortunate accidents leaves him to believe that his family is cursed. Various relatives were all responsible for the deaths in traffic accidents of key French intellectuals: Pierre Curie, the co-discoverer of Radium, Ernest Chausson, the composer, and semiologist Roland Barthes all fell victim to his family’s wayward driving.

Now David has a reason to return; he is giving a keynote address at a conference in Paris on the sequencing of junk DNA in the Human Genome, which David has been engaged with for most of his adult life.

But David’s father goes missing, taking the hire car, but leaving his notebook behind in which there is only a photograph of his father and two strangers and a cryptic phrase. David fears that his ailing father may do something foolish, may even live out the family curse. The quest is on.

Here's What I Did With My Body One Day is a quotation from Roland Barthes's Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes ('Voici ce qui j'ai fait un jour de mon corps'), a book of fragmentary autobiographical reflections that turn moments of his experience into an investigation of identity. In this particular fragment ('The Rib-Chop'), Barthes talks about being given a section of his rib, removed after an operation and his indecision about what to do with it. It's closely connected to the thematics of my play because of its emphasis on the body, biology, mortality and fate.

David’s story is given in parallel with the accounts of the last days of Chausson, Curie and Barthes and the four stories weave together a series of questions about knowledge, fate and desire.

The play started with an idea by Andy Lavender and I wrote it through a lengthy devising process with Lightwork Theatre Company. It opened at the Pleasance in North London for a three week run in 2004 and then embarked on a national tour in 2006.

The play was directed by Andy Lavender and starred David Annen, Paul Murray, Danny Scheinmann, and Eric Maclennan (Colin Hurley in 2004). Choreography was by Ayse Tashkiran, sound design by Gregg Fisher, video design by Douglas O’Connell.

You can read Here’s What I Did With My Body One Day here