-- By David Ian
Enter From Mezzanine Left and Right: The Paying Audience, threading through the maze of chairs to find their seats, dressed to the nines to see and be seen. All is jovial and sparkling and festive and gay with the buzz of anticipation giddy.
Enter from Above: The VIPs to their private boxes, some making grand entrance acknowledging the public, others keep curtains drawn until house lights darken; gossiping eyes prying to see who shouldn’t be seen with whom. Some wear masks to hide their faces, or to keep wagging tongues guessing.
Enter from House General: the groundlings who’ve scraped up their change to buy standing room space. Raucous and loud they swarm and they shift, an ever-changing sea of milling faces and noise.
House lights go down, the crowd now a whisper, some settling of seats and some late hour newcomers. The Stage Manager waits with a finger raised up, counting and listening. Then down comes the hand, my cue is now given, the overture is on in strength and in tune.
Enter Through Trapdoor: It’s a rush up to the platform, and I step up to the stage and take my place in velvet darkness. Then a tight spot stabs out like a lighthouse through fog, and the audience erupts to my intro in song.
Enter the Villain: A dark figure from Stage Left. He moves swiftly flashing something bright and sharp. He makes quick work of his part, no melodrama or mugging, he just lets his deeds do the talking. The blade cuts deep and the pain flashes bright as I crumple to the ground in mid-song. The Villain stands over me victorious, glaring and gloating in his grin.
The audience gasps in horror, they play their part well; had there not been blood they would’ve demanded their money, expectations are carved in stone tablets. The VIPs sit passively as the spectacle unfolds, and the groundlings all howl in glee.
Enter The Hero: Through double doors Up Center. The crowd subsides and a fanfare marks his entrance. He comes over to me and bends down, my life’s blood ebbing out in a crimson pool. His eyes are kind and flash with fury as I see his passion for my plight. And with a gentle hand, he staunches the flow, and picks me up with the slightest of grunts. I’m carried to a safe place Up Stage Right to the shifting and murmuring of the crowd. The Villain appeals to the house with a speech, one that Marc Antony himself would relish. And with the maelstrom of anger he whips up the mob now incited with a dangerous fury.
Enter The Minions: From the voms, from the sides, from the flys; from Stage Left and Stage Right. And some from guy-wires they land in the crowd and stir up the masses with shouts. They all rush the stage with drunk groundlings in tow, and they swarm at the Hero Stage Center. He says not a word as they knock him down and tie him to a pillar on a pulley. And as he’s hoisted up to the jeering crowd, my eyes fade at the sight of their blood orgy.
Cut To Black
Coming to, I see the Hero, his eyes bright and soft. I shake my head and crawl to my feet. I wince as if it were there, but my wound’s gone, and then I see it, gaping in his side -- that blade-wound the Villain meant for me. The cast and audience are gone, its just me and my savior on an empty bare stage. There’s no blood on the floor, not mine, anyway, and the look I give him is perplexed.
“This show’s done,” he whispers with a smile, and leads me to exit Up Stage Center. “I’ll join you anon, it will be just a moment, you won’t notice the time that has gone. But for now with this show, I must play out its run, there are plenty more actors like you. You played your part, well done, good and faithful, I’ll be joining you soon by and by.”
All the world is a stage, and we are but actors, we can choose our parts only once. To play the lead is assuredly death, make no mistaking in that. Only one player belongs center stage, and we are all supporting his scene. I’ll play my part and I’ll cheer along, when the Hero takes his cue and makes entrance.
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Bravo! Bravo! My sentiments in a nutshell. The Playwrite of the Universe writes the script, assigns the actors, directs the performance and gathers the audience to bear witness. I do like this; I can see why it is a favorite of yours :)