The play that Deborah Pearson is going to perform this weekend hasn't been written yet, and it won't be until a few hours before she's scheduled to perform.
"I'm not going to do any work on the script until I get to Portland," says Pearson about her one-woman play, The Future Show. "I wake up at 7 am on the day that I'm performing the show and I do the rewrite from 7 am to about 4 pm, and I'm going to do that for four days in a row."
The Future Show has already been rewritten 27 times. In it, the London-based performer, wearing everyday clothes and sitting onstage behind a desk the entire time, reads out her script, which imagines her future from the moment the performance ends to when Pearson dies. Her immediate future takes up a good portion of the script and changes every time she does the performance, hence the rewriting.
That may sounds nuts, and Pearson says it kind of is.
"It's awful. That's why I don't like to do the show anymore," she says.
Pearson toured the show consistently for about two years, but this will be the first time she's performed it in 2016.
"When I was younger, I had obsessive compulsive disorder," says Pearson. "I think what I was doing with the show, it definitely invited my obsessive compulsive disorder back."
Calling from Slovenia where she's performing at a contemporary arts festival, Pearson talks about the challenges of The Future Show with a tone of unwearied acceptance. Pearson says she's proud of the show, and that even though it takes a lot of personal effort, the subject matter isn't that personal. "The only way psychologically to deal with it is to be clear about the fact that you're writing fiction, even though you're the main character," she says.
Still, there is something terrifying about the idea of having to recite the rest of your life, even if it is just fiction. But Pearson takes comfort in the fact that her predictions rarely come true. "[The audience is] not going to behave in the same ways that I predicted them behaving in the script, because nobody really wants to satisfy expectations," she says. "Even if they did, they'd feel weird because they would feel like they were just impersonating these weird fictional people I talked about."
As always, Pearson doesn't know what exactly will end up in her scripts, but she says this time around she feels a certain responsibility with The Future Show. Talking about the future right now seems unavoidably political, says Pearson, and she would like to be able to talk about that future with "a hope that's about embracing uncertainty, but a hope that's not complacent."
"The things that haven't happened yet genuinely haven't happened yet," Pearson adds. "There's something about that really uncertain space around future events that can become a site for radical possibility."
SEE IT: The Future Show plays at Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison St., artistsrep.org. 7:30 pm Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 1-4. $25.