Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shadows of Friends Past

Tonight I stop in the auditorium to watch part of a dance rehearsal for a musical. On-stage, friends and strangers gyrate inconsistently. Director and assistant director gaze up at the controlled chaos, their faces non-judgmental, all-seeing masks. Accompanist, patient but ready to spring in at a moment's notice with the required chord, watches steadily, her gaze never leaving the spring-loaded body of the choreographer.

And what a marionette he is! He is machine-making-art, powered by inexhaustible funds of creativity and joy and passion. He creates story with body and character with movement. To young actors, he is accessible. To experienced actors, he throws down a gauntlet: Can You Do This?

In counterpoint to his irrepressible energy looms the silent stateliness of the performance space. How many stories these walls tell me: of high drama performed and petty drama exacerbated--of unintentional comedy that sparkles and shimmers and tickles, and of unfunny jokes forced down the unwilling throats of the audience. Here is a student performance of Romeo and Juliet; here is Cinderella come to life as student proposes to student, mid-rehearsal. Here is anger and faked catastrophe, and real catastrophe barely-averted. Vases and ropin' fools and little women and tax-evading grandfathers...these curtains tell all.

To me. They tell these stories to me, because I am gone. I am no longer a part. I am an outsider, looking in, and my memories merge with the memories of these walls, and I am mysteriously a part of history.

Long live flights of fancy!

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