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Friday, January 24, 2014

Simplicity. By John von Daler

                 The young actor wanted to make the best of the few words he was allowed to say:
                "Coffee will be served in the lounge, Gentlemen. If the Ladies would please follow me..."
                 He had wanted to accompany the second of the two lines with a suggestion of hanky-panky in his mien, but the director had cautioned him to keep his eyebrows above the belt. Still, you could emphasize Coffee, or you could emphasize Gentlemen. The audience would get either a feeling of the importance of the heated, brown water or of the common foundation of masculinity that connected half of the people on the stage.
                He had been experimenting with both interpretations and just today had concluded that the accent should be placed on Gentlemen.
                As usual, he was waiting in the wings together with one of the most famous and respected actors in Denmark, a man whose charisma on the stage loaded the performance with myriad levels of meaning.
                The young man had taken to greeting his elder colleague every evening as they waited together in the wing. The great man came in directly after the young actor's exit, interrupting the exit of the ladies with a moving, mesmerizing entrance that always made the audience gasp. Was he a ghost, a seer, a genie, or a ghastly criminal? Was he dead or alive? These questions and many more occurred to anyone watching the actor's little round trip from the wing to the center of the stage and back out again.
                This evening the young man had decided to ask the star about the technical background for his magical excursion onto the stage. After all, he might as well utilize the possibilities that his own tiny role gave him in order to learn something insightful about the trade he had just entered. You could say he was trying to apprentice himself to the older man.
                "Excuse me, Sir. Would it disturb your concentration if I asked you something about the interpretation of your role?"
                The older man looked at him with those hazy, mysterious eyes and motioned for him to continue.
                "What in fact is the meaning of this sequence where you walk in and alarm the ladies and antagonize all the gentlemen? And how do you prepare yourself for the moment?"
                The older man looked at his young colleague perhaps for the first time ever.
                "You see," he said and paused to think. "I wait for your cue and then as you exit I walk on stage and go all the way to the marker in the middle. When I reach it, I turn around slowly and go back exactly to the same place I came from." The actor smiled, happy at the quality of his own description. Then he added, "and when that's over I wait for the curtain call, bow, and then go home to eat a late night snack with my wife."
                The young man stood a moment thinking about the content of these words from a genius. The older man turned back to watch the stage.
                "But you had better get going because I just heard your cue and they are waiting for you."
                As the young actor hurried onto the stage he got menacing stares from his colleagues. In the wings, the great man dusted some lint off his jacket and thought to himself: pheasant. I hope she serves pheasant tonight!


My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing)  can be ordered through Amazon.com, the publisher, or your local bookstore. Click on the cover to reach Amazon. Please feel free to write a short review of "Pieces" in your own language at Amazon.com or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!
               



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