AN UNTITLED PLAY POSTHUMOUSLY WRITTEN BY PHILIP K DICK
DANIEL J GLENDENING
“An Untitled Play Posthumously Written by Philip K Dick” is an adaptation of “Macbeth,” composed of text and language appropriated from short stories and novels by Philip K Dick. During the Spaceness 2016 arts festival the work was performed as a cold table read. The 27 characters were voiced by eight volunteer actors, each reading several parts. The multitude of revolving voices highlighted the question of “who is speaking?”—in reference to character as well as authorship.
Through this manipulation of language, and the conflation of narrative and history, a number of overlapping themes emerge; an examination of paranoia and fear; the corrupting influence of political power; a conflicting distrust of and reliance on fate; and the rise of totalitarian policing forces. Each of these is met with an absurdist sense of humor. In this story, as in most, everybody dies in the end and time repeats itself.
This isn’t to say, necessarily, that Philip K Dick is Shakespearian, or that “Macbeth” is particularly Dickian—the pairing is itself an absurd gesture. We tell the same stories again and again, to the extent that the language and experience of one may be substituted for another, without loss of meaning. Authorship and authority is up for grabs; the narrative that emerges belongs equally to Shakespeare, Dick, every reader, and myself.