JERK is a strange, poetic, funny and sombre imaginary reconstruction of the crimes perpetrated by the American serial killer Dean Corll. With the assistance of the adolescents David Brooks and Wayne Henley, Corll killed more than twenty children in the state of Texas in the mid-1970s.
This performance shows us David Brooks while he serves his life sentence. In prison he learns the art of puppets, through which he can in some way can face up to his responsibility as a participant in the crimes. He has written a show that reconstructs the murders committed by Dean Corll, using puppets to represent all the characters. He performs his show in prison for a class of psychology students from a local university. The violence and humour of the text lead to the underlying ferocity to performance.
Puppet theatre is in fact a traditional way of representing violent and illicit subjects.
JERK unabashedly mixes sexuality and violence reflecting the aesthetics of gore, naturally harking back to the repertory of hand puppets. The text has been staged as a solo for a hand puppeteer, who also plays the role of a con artist.
However realistic it may appear, the story borders on unrealism. The play’s apparent realism is a result of its linear narrative, and the fact that it is based on a true story, as well as the total identification of the puppeteer/trickster with the fictional character of David Brooks.
JERK is the fourth theatrical work produced in collaboration with the American writer Dennis Cooper after I’Apologize (2004), Une
belle enfant blonde (2005) and Kindertotenlieder (2007). These works question the connections between fantasy and reality until they alter our perception of reality. The more realistic JERK appears in its linear narrative, the more credibility it offers, stemming from this method of questioning. And it is this undeniability that is re-examined here in JERK, through a variety of formal experiences.