GUEST BLOG: Blackcatfishmusketeer – Silly Titles and Depicting The Internet

Writer, Dylan Coburn Gray, explains the significance of the title “Blackcatfishmusketeer.”

You can catch Black Catfish Musketeer by MALAPROP on May 29 – June 2 as part of the MALAPROP double bill with Love+

For more info and to book tickets, click here.

You’re probably wondering about the title. Fair.

The starting point for Blackcatfishmusketeer was me being a bit obsessed with the story of Cyrano. Ignoring the swordfights and tricking people into marriages, it’s a story about people who are afraid that the better you know them the less you’ll love them; that’s a theme that doesn’t get old. They disguise themselves, not realising their disguises tell you more about them than their faces; that’s another.

Looked at slant, the story of Cyrano is basically an episode of Catfish. But every episode of Catfish skirts what’s absolutely central to Cyrano; the million-volt charge between you and someone else’s words that simultaneously motivates you to never stop talking to them and never let them see you. Because how could they be anything but disappointed when they did? Or rather, Catfish picks up when that charge has dissipated.

Putting those two things together, we have a play called Catfishmusketeer. It’s an internet epistolary, it’s a story about two people using words to do things to one another. The one thing still missing is the one thing that EVERY version of Cyrano has: Cyrano and Roxanne connect because they’re both gigantic nerds. I needed a theme for them to riff on, a subject big enough for them to have room to show off for one another.

That ended up being the problem of induction, or doubt, or how you know what you know for sure (if ever you do.) I chose it because love on the internet is a perfect example, but regular old love is not not an example. It’s also known as the black swan problem, and the analogy that led to it being known as that works equally well with any other animal. So there it is: Blackcatfishmusketeer. I hope that makes sense. If it doesn’t, I hope at least it definitely doesn’t not make sense.
I’ll add that Blackcatfishmusketeer is a two person three-hander (the same way Love+, our other show, is a one person two-hander). There is a third character called IT, who is not a clown or a giant pulsing brain. They sort of play the internet. To give a wanky writer’s answer, I would say they play how we pay attention to the internet. Everything is half-remembered after it was half-paid attention, described in a way that is half factual and half personal commentary on the factual.
There was this great thing going around of this cat 
-Have you seen that American baby that does that mad thing with its eyes
-I read this thinkpiece the other day by herself who interviewed the fake black woman that time

IT is our answer to depicting the internet. It’s tough, because the internet is a moving target that moves very very fast. If you reference a specific interface, it’s dated within two years. If you reference a specific meme or idiolect, it’s dated within two months. If you reference a specific event/scandal, it’s dated within two days. (Animals talking in umlauts has lasted longer than some members of Trump’s government). Given that, we steered into the skid and stripped visual references. We tried to keep the emotional core; the hope is that BCM doesn’t look like the internet looks, but it feels like the internet feels.