Play # 45: The Cathedral of Erotic Misery

The play is set in the house of Dada artist Kurt Schwitters in Hannover, Germany, in 1919.  The stage is essentially bare except for a strange white column, rather ramshackle in appearance, and apparently made mostly of wood and plaster.  The column—which fills the room it is in—features a good many apertures, concavities and hollows, all of which hold, for Schwitters, a tender and archival purpose. 
When the play opens, Schwitters is talking with Richard Huelsenbeck, one of the founders of the Dada movement, now so noisily flowering at the Café Voltaire in Zurich.  We can hear both men, Schwitters and Huelsenbeck, but they remain offstage where we cannot see them.  All we can see is the column.

Huelsenbeck:  But why a tower? 

Schwitters:  I refer to it as a column.

Huelsenbeck: And here in your house!

Schwitters:  Where else should I build it?

H: At the rate you’re constructing it, the column will take over everything!  Pretty soon there’ll be no space left for your wife or son.

S: That’s what they say too.

H:  What is it for? What’s its true purpose?

S:  What are your antics at the Café Voltaire for?  What is your true purpose there?

H: We’re trying to inject some sensibility into an unfeeling culture that thinks only of money and war.

S:  Well, me too.

H: But we are expansive, raucous, highly public.  Your column is mute, secretive, impassive, internal.  It speaks only to itself.

S:  Oh no.  It speaks to me as well.  And it’s useful.  I store things in it.  It has pockets and cavities and caves into which I place memorial things…

H: What sort of memorial things?

S:  Oh, letters, talismanic objects, lengths of bone and hanks of hair.  You can give me something for it if you like. 

H:  But nobody will ever see your project—unless you invite them here to your house, as you have me.

S:  That’s fine.  A few people are enough.

H: Does it have a title?

S:  The Cathedral of Erotic Misery.

H:  Catchy.

S:  It’s not really true though.

H: I’m very glad to hear it!

S: Yes, the waves of its misery spread way beyond the erotic.