Season 2, Episode 1
The slow, lingering close-ups that mark each soap scene are easy to satirize. One soap actor calls it her “Did I leave my oven on?” face. Did I leave my oven on? Did I leave my oven on?
While dialogue is soap’s primary instrument, its meat and potatoes, the reaction shot is its finishing touch, its impeccably-placed garnish, highlighting moments overlooked in real life. It’s a secret, a knowing glance exchanged between character and audience, the center piece of emotion.……..the calling card of what Peter Brooks calls The Melodramatic Imagination.
According to Brooks, instead of a happy ending bringing pleasure, in soaps “the tragic knowledge of the holding off,” the suspended moment, is the source of joy.
Did I leave the oven on?
The viewer’s “refusal, or inability, to accept…everyday life as banal and meaningless,” leads to a layer of sheen on every event: the emotion I feel during a lover’s quarrel, dropping a child off at school, business arrangement gone awry, waking up next to my spouse, seeing my ex at the party.
The reaction shot exults this emotional pain and frames it with that imaginary sheen, the polish of significance. If Steffy’s emotions are important, my emotions are important.
Painted Dreams is a darkly comic and empathetic queering of soap opera history that explores the cliches and contradictions of gender. Disney figurines and Proctor&Gamble products commingle, altering each other’s meanings, while the series' voiceover imagines what would happen if, instead of traveling the world, the narrator of Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil stayed home and watched All My Children. Lush in domestic ooze, Painted Dreams shuffles ‘masculine,’ ‘feminine,’ ‘real,’ ‘fake’ until they become indistinguishable and androgynous.
Full Cast: Stella Corso, Emily Hunerwadel, Ish Klein, Sarah Lanzillotta, Andrew McAlpine, Sarah Beth McAlpine, Vick Quezada, Caroline Raynor, Caroline Belle Stewart, Jonathan Volk
Music by Jon Ruseski
Written & Directed by Patrick Bella Gone
Produced with support from Northampton Media
Patrick Bella Gone is an artist raised in central Pennsylvania. Their work investigates the soft language of cultural objects, often staging the confrontations of chosen and inherited identities. Gone's recent performance & video work has appeared at the Queens Museum, Bronx Academy of Art & Dance, AS220, & Dixon Place. They are a 2017 MassMOCA Assets for Artists Fellow & the author of The Impersonators (Factory Hollow Press, 2017).