Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Milk, Masks and a Vast, Rotting Stage

It was opening night and we were backstage in an enormous theatre with rotting wood floors and dim lights in hidden corners.  My mask wouldn’t fit – it was too big, and I couldn’t see out of it.  I was panicking and tried to get someone to help but they were too busy buzzing around getting things ready for the show.  We were terribly underprepared.  It was Théatre du Soleil and there were thousands of people coming.  

I tried to look in the mirror – there were hundreds of them littered around the vast space.  But every mirror had something wrong with it – it was cracked, the light was too dark, or someone would simply pick it up and take it away from me as soon as I began looking in it. 

I squatted down and put my hands over my eyes in despair, throwing the rubbery mask in a pile of grotty clothes. 

Had someone swapped theirs with mine?  Someone with a big, stinking head?  I grabbed it and looked inside.  A big red texta dot, just like I had put in mine.  

It was mine.  

Someone came and tapped on my shoulder.  It was Justin.  We had dinner at his apartment in the Rue Vaurigard last night before the Dream.  He asked if I could stop worrying about myself please and take a crate out to the stage for a lighting check.  I picked up the plastic crate, it was one of those clear filing boxes full of old diaries and junk from under my bed.  It was heavy.  I carried it out on to the stage, feeling a trickling sensation down the insides of my legs.  I looked down and milk was leaking out of the bottom of the box.  It was sticky.  I was awfully irritated, but stood in the spotlight on the vast stage, holding it, as I knew it was our only chance to do the Tech rehearsal, and Techs are always tedious.  It’s your job to just stand still and obey. 

So I stood there, as lights focused and changed and went dark and flickered back on again, wondering what I was going to do about the mask – how was I going to perform?  

Why did it suddenly not fit like before? 

And the milk trickled down my bare legs and filled my shoes.  And when the shoes filled up they spilled over.  And when they spilled over a puddle of white formed around my feet on the vast, putrid stage. 

Pina Bausch 'Nelken'

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