Posing as a screenplay, By Rote, could be a novel, or just a collection of short stories, or rather, scenes from a TV show in which the ordinary uncanny would be more than a behind-the-scenes. Like a Lena Dunham remake of a Haneke movie, or a mash-up of Broad City and Last Year at Marienbad playing in the next room, the sound of it being heard but the image never seen, By Rote works its way through comedic and not-quite-comedic repetition, freely jumping from setting to setting, navigating the contemporary torpor of the underlying everyday behind the processes of looking and making. Writing as urgency when no other way to get it right seems possible; when how to make something out of something that sticks in one’s mind is within reach, but never fully graspable: Alexandra Noel writes like she paints, with a shrewd and ticklish palette that provokes slapstick and identification.
I mean aren’t we technically always doing improv with each other? To some degree I mean. Entering each other’s realities? Being agreeable? You have to. I mean you just have to sometimes… all the time… maybe. Right?