- You dream of the stage. The spotlight shines on you, the audience holds their breath for you to speak. Your lines, someone mouths to you. You do not know who, you did not see them, you did not hear them. You cannot remember your lines. You look down, a cold sweat forming on your brow. You notice that you are in your underwear. The audience stares. You are not dreaming.
- Backstage, you wait. Standing alone in the darkness of the wing, a black shape shifts past you. You have no proof of them other than the breeze felt by their passing and the shadow you thought you caught in the corner of your eye. Another shape moves past, behind you. Another, in front. Perhaps they aren’t passing you, perhaps they’re coming closer, together. The techies. They move.
- You wait in center stage for the light to come on. It is only dark. It has been dark for as long as you can remember. A low buzzing can be heard, and the stage lights begin to glow, softly, growing brighter, quickly. They are so bright now. You cannot see the audience. You look down, you cannot see your hands. It is so bright. You can no longer feel your body, you are no longer a physical form.
- You shower after the show, trying to wash off the stage makeup. The water runs flesh color at first, then black. There is so much makeup. Glitter falls from your hair. Why is there glitter? You think. I will never be clean, you whisper into the dark recesses beyond the drain. Eyelashes are falling now, in clumps, whether they are fake or real you do not know. Everything falls, everything is washed away. You become faceless, and yet streaks of waterproof mascara remain.
- You are only called by your character name, you can not remember the last time you were called by your real name. You can not remember your real name. You are changing.
- Red leather, yellow leather, they chant. The step closer to you, circling you. There is no escape. They chant softly at first, growing louder, walking faster. They break into a jazz run, they are screaming now. You try to chant as well, you try to keep up. You are sweating, yelling. Red leather, yellow leather. Red leather yellow leather. They are coming towards you, waiting for you to fail, to fall. Red yellow, leather pleather, you finally slip. They close in. You have lost.
-You stare into the bright blackness beyond the stage. Someone in the shadows is moving a search light. It roves over the stage, hunting. You wonder what they are searching for. You hope it isn’t you.
-Lights pop and explode. A sandbag falls. The curtain catches you in the back of the head. The theater does not like you. The theater wants you gone. But belligerently, stupidly, you persist.
-There are two of you now. You have two names and two voices. You wake up in the morning and a voice is whispering your lines. Which one of you is the real one? You do not remember.
-Who is playing the piano? No one knows. Who is singing? Everyone is singing. No one is singing.
-You are backstage and everything is black and red. You crouch out of the light. You hide behind the prop table. If anyone sees you, something terrible will happen.
- Your face is strange and thick with makeup. You do not look like you. You wonder if the circus will take you away soon.
- Did you sleep? Did you eat? Did you go to school today? You can’t remember. Time is only real inside the theater.
- You look at the rehearsal schedule. The word “hell” stares back at you. That’s where you belong now.
-You move in carefully planned ways. You do not deviate. You move the way you are meant to. You do it again and again and again.
- Someone is sawing. Another person moves past you covered in paint. You do not know them. They frighten you. They are too strong, and they do not answer to you. “Without them there would not be a show,” you whisper to yourself. You are grateful for the set, but they dress in black and speak words you do not understand. You say nothing.
-Left is not left and right is not right. Up is down and down is up. Physics do not exist in the theater.
The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. The theatre is also often referred to as the Opéra Garnier, and historically was known as the Opéra de Paris or simply the Opéra, as it was the primary home of the Paris Opera and its associated Paris Opera Ballet until 1989, when the Opéra Bastille opened at the Place de la Bastille. The Paris Opera now mainly uses the Palais Garnier for ballet.
The Palais Garnier is “probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur Basilica." This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera and, especially, the novel’s subsequent adaptations in films andAndrew Lloyd Webber’s popular 1986 musical. Another contributing factor is that among the buildings constructed in Paris during the Second Empire, besides being the most expensive, it has been described as the only one that is "unquestionably a masterpiece of the first rank." This opinion is far from unanimous however: the 20th-century French architect Le Corbusier once described it as "a lying art” and contended that the “Garnier movement is a décor of the grave”.
I had a dream about doing theatre last night. It was hilarious more in retrospect than at the time, because it was like…ur-theatre. Theatre distilled down to component parts without any actual content. I woke up laughing about what the fuck, theatre.
Elements of the play included:
A woman in a spectacular dress giving an opening monologue while a bunch of other women lay on the stage motionless
No set pieces in an arena-style stage configuration
Another play being performed across the hall (Shakespeare)
One single person in modern dress
One person in a costume exactly like one they wore earlier but with a single ludicrous addition
Scholarly program notes debating exactly how many people die offstage and what their significance might be
Someone yelling and throwing their arms upwards with a sudden drop to black for intermission
That nervous little sidelong-look-and-flounce that almost every actor does when standing in the lobby waiting to enter through the audience
The theatre’s lobby decorator deciding theatrical posters from past performances was a super-original idea
Ushers who visibly could not give less of a fuck
There were other elements but I forget what they were.
It felt like my brain has been spending the last ten years grinding all the theatre I’ve worked on and gone to into one single episode of ULTRA THEATRE.