Emilia Bergmark

Soap - a kitchen sink drama, 2021

Kitchen, sink with built-in speaker, four ceramic heads depicting the characters Mr. Muscle, Vanish, Ajax and Ariel, each with a speaker inside, five channel sound-track (18 min)

is a multichannel sound-track installation and kitchen sink drama. The narrator in this drama is a talking kitchen sink with screenwriter ambitions who has composed a soap opera with a cast of “her friends, the cleaning products”; Vanish, Mr. Muscle, Ariel and Ajax. The story unfolds to reveal a triangle drama between the four characters depicted in the installation as talking ceramic heads. The work exposes central feminist issues of agency and division of labour and the form draws on references to American soap operas and the so-called ‘kitchen sink dramas’ - a sub-genre of social realism popularised in television, theatre and film in mid-century Britain depicting domestic situations of the working class.

Written and directed by Emilia Bergmark.
Voice actress: Lisa Lind Dunbar.
Technical assistance: Liam Amner.

The work was produced at Inter Art Center, Malmö.

THE SINK: Ho-ho! Over here love. Yes! Right over here, [Bubbles, swallowing] The sink! [Burp]
Oh pardon me! Come a little closer… Oh, eh, d-don’t touch anything please… You have 1500 bacteria living on each–square–centimeteof your hands… On average. That’s a–lot–of bacteria on those dirty human-skin-gloves you’re wearing. So, keep those grubby hands where I can see them. Just… Don’t touch anything.  Please!

Thank you for coming! I’ve always wanted to write a soap opera. It’s been in the pipeline for some time now, but I’ve had a creative block.[Blopp].. But… I’ve had some extra time on my hands lately… I don’t go out you see. I can’t leave the house… [Whisperin] It’s dangerous out there. There are germs e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

But, I’m safe in here. It’s clean. [Bubble sounds, burp] We have disinfected all the surfaces, bleached the stains, killed the germs, removed the limescale. We have scrubbed the floors, buffed the stainless steel, washed the kitchen towels and ungreased the pipes. I say we, because I had a little help from my friends – the cleaning products!

So, with my spare time, I’ve managed to break through my writer’s block and I’ve got quite far in the writing. It’s a kitchen sink drama and it’s called ‘Soap’ and the cleaning products – my friends and helpers – they are helping me with ‘Soap’ too, they will be the cast! [Gurgling sound] Oh, you have to excuse me, I suffer from Incontrollable Bowels Syndrome. I’m a little nervous… Please ignore my… insides. Sorry… [Swallowing]

So, the soap opera is called ‘Soap’ and it’s a kitchen sink drama and it’s set in a kitchen. There’s going to be a jingle, at the start of each episode and it goes something like this:

[Blubb, blobb, blobb] Soap! [Ding!]

[Awkward silence] We will work on that…

First let me introduce the characters in ‘Soap’. We’ve got the housewife Vanish. 1
1. Excerpt from the manuscript for the sound piece ‘Soap’, Emilia Bergmark, 2021

VANISH: I’m Vanish and I’m super-boosted and fast-acting, providing astonishing cleaning result.

2. Excerpt from the manuscript for the sound piece ‘Soap’, Emilia Bergmark, 2021

THE SINK: Her husband Mr. Muscle works most of the time. And when he doesn’t work, he likes to spend time in his garage. 


THE SINK: He likes to do the dirty work.

MR. MUSCLE: I’m Mr. Muscle and I love the job you hate.

THE SINK: In the garage he likes to disassemble machinery, tighten the nuts and bolts. He likes to operate power tools, fix the car, grease the gears. In the drawer of his work bench, he keeps a collection of dirty magazines. Mr. Muscle doesn’t help out around the house. Unless the sink is clogged.

MR. MUSCLE: Yea, if your sink is clogged, I unclog it. That’s what I do. I’ve got the tools to treat your pipes just right lady. I don’t mind me some grease and grime I will proper your blocked plugholes until you beg me to stop, Mr. Muscle solves the problem!

THE SINK: Yeah Mr. Muscle exhibits a lot of traits of toxic masculinity… 3

3. Excerpt from the manuscript for the sound piece ‘Soap’, Emilia Bergmark, 2021

The next characters in the drama are the perfect couple next door. They are young they are successful they are happy and in love. [Kissing sound effect from Ariel and Ajax]
This is Ariel:

ARIEL: When you look good and smell good, you feel good! Ariel, giving you the confidence to succeed in everything you set your mind to.

4. Excerpt from the manuscript for the sound piece ‘Soap’, Emilia Bergmark, 2021

She makes them feel special. She makes me feel like they are actually more attractive than they thought they were. She makes  every man feel like he has a sense of humor and that he can make her laugh like no other man can. She makes men feel that a life with her would be a life washed clean of the shades of grey that their every-day-life has taken on. That
she would bring back the vibrant colors to his life! And then there is Ajax:

AJAX: I’m stronger than dirt! 5

5. Excerpt from the manuscript for the sound piece ‘Soap’, Emilia Bergmark, 2021