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  • Matthew Short

Dramaturg’s diary I, The anxious dramaturgical body

This post begins the start of a diaristic series on my website that explores times in my work and life that sometimes create moments of reflection or a chance to pause. They will engage further with the personal, not always having to talk critically or formally. At least, that’s how I hope these will unfurl. As such, the tone and form will most likely deviate from my other posts. I hope it will be somewhat creative to have this alternative written space to understand the phenomenology of my dramaturgy.



So the itching started, slowly at first, just at my knuckles.

The red spread further across my skin and the itchiness followed.

My forehead, my scalp, my chest, my elbows, my knees.

I didn’t really notice at first that I was scratching,

that I was slowly turning raw with the cold,

from the falsely heated air of my flat.

The air that smells of burnt dust from an ancient storage heater.

But, as the dry skin slowly crawled across my flesh, so too did the knowledge that now I was an itching body.


I gave in to the itch,

the scratch,

the clawing,

especially in the evenings as I laid in bed.


And without even realising, it had overtaken me.

It was plaguing not only my body, but also my mind;

I jumped from the logical conclusion to an extreme one.


In these itching moments of faux-self-intimacy,

I noticed my moles.

More moles.

New moles?

Many moles.

Plenty on my arms,

freckles on my thighs, is that a thing?

Moles like star signs across my back.

Moles on my face which I’m certain weren’t there just mere days ago.

I check the selfies I’ve taken in the past few weeks. Is that the same mole? Zoom in. Scan again.

It must be the same mole.

Why haven’t I noticed it before?

So this is it.

I became certain the itchiness had to be skin cancer.

I had an unfortunate spot decide to erupt on my back right next to a mole, and that was that.

The moments of bodily scanning started to be done with shaky hands.

That cold anxious dread cemented the space below my stomach.


I lay in bed, vowing to not scratch myself any further as if that would be the cure to this new found self-diagnosis.

My bed was no longer a space of comfort, but a space for my death.

It terrified me, but I found it hard to leave, resigned to my fate.


It’s ridiculous when you get caught in these moments.

No matter how open you are with people around you.

No matter how certain you are that these are the signs of your anxiety speaking.

How certain you are that you’re now living in a world of nonsense.

This world is your only reality,

you simply cannot explain it to others so completely and descriptively without sounding like a diva,

or somewhat insane.

It makes you feel insane.

Unable to trust anything your brain is saying other than the singular absurdity that it has decided to latch on to.


This is my anxious dramaturgical body

That creates stories, forces narratives Writes in the tapping patterns of my scratches. And I pause. For what is ecodramaturgy if not an anxious one?

The earth is my body and it is dying.


I think this like a mantra And my body is in crisis My mind in crisis Just like the earth.

Like the climate.


For that’s all it is.

That’s all my itch is about.

The climate dries my skins,

The winter draws blood On my knuckles With its sharp cold bite. And the climate isn’t new But it’s different.

Ever changing,

More extreme,

Unknowable.


Like my mind,

The anxious mind.

Ever changing,

More extreme.

Unknowable.



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