Ominous music plays. The audience doesn’t know what to expect, but the sense of an experience that is soon to come is well-defined. That what will be soon seen, will be sinister. The mood and the stage is dark. Not completely. There’s some light, just enough to make out some form, if, it shows up. It has been a five minutes since the curtain was raised. The stage is empty. And dark. Even the ominous music has faded.
The tall man in the eleventh row, who is never affected by anything, knows what the director is trying to do. Silence is more ominous than ominous music. The director is too dramatic; he thinks to himself and smiles. The man in the middle of the fifth row is already disappointed. He has a very clear understanding of how things should be in the world. He can even convince you of how things should be (of course, if you aren’t convinced, then you aren’t as intelligent as he thought you to be). There are others in the audience. Each one telling themselves of the idea behind the empty stage. The stage has been empty for eight minutes now.
Ominous music plays. It’s the 37th time he has heard the music. It has happened 36 times before, and today is no different. He is waiting in the wings, and is unable to walk onto the stage. Frozen stiff. He waits for the actor to step out and perform. Usually, as soon as the ominous music starts, he closes his eyes, and in less than a minute, the actor steps out. It has been three minutes since he closed his eyes. The actor is locked within; not frozen – like him, but unable to step out to the stage. He is concerned. He shuts his eyes tightly, as if the pressure will release the actor. Nothing changes. He senses the actor struggling to get out. His left toe, and his left index finger are numb. Also the last two toes of his right leg. The actor is anchored at these three places. As if, nailed. The ominous music fades.
The actor is not on stage. This has never happened before. It is a new experience. A sense of dread creeps up on him. Go now, he says. I want to, says the actor, but I am unable. I am stuck. You have to find a way, he says, one last time – this is the last show. I want to, I want to, I am trying, cries the actor, but I cannot leave. Walk me to the stage, pleads the actor, perhaps I may get released centre stage.
What was only a slight quiver turns into a quake. You know I cannot to do that, he said, in a tone that was sheer anger or sheer fear. Perhaps both. The actor felt the fear that he felt, but he did not understand it. Just walk me to the stage, I’ll act, you don’t have to do anything. Just get me centre stage, pleaded the actor, again.
In that raging fear, he somehow managed to smile. If I take you centre stage, that will be the end of you. I will become the actor. I will become you, he said, to the actor.
And I will have no way of bring you back, even if I die.
And with the numbness, nine minutes later, he walks on to the stage, weighed down by an invisible carcass. In a thunderous voice he delivered the actor’s eulogy:
Oh my eunuch enemy
For I am the hero
and villain myself.
I am addicted to the stage.
I dread the day
My knees week and broken
Unable on stage; my death
Will be when I become audience.