Monday, August 13, 2007

The Bad Magician In Summerstock

This time the piano jumped. This time the drums beat back. This time the microphone--the microphone--started screaming at a glass fog. Wake up. No one can wake up today. Wake up.

The Bad Magician crooked an elbow and jutted a chin. He stole a glance from the third row of the umber theater, in furtive posture he protected somebody else's misunderstanding. Everyone has to leave sometime or other. He left right then and there.

At the stage door a mercury lantern ran at all the shadows. The Bad Magician glided onto the street and was attacked by bricks. He rose up, up, up. I am out, said the Bad Magician. The last showing revealed no conscience in the king to catch. I am the arc of centuries, said he. The Bad Magician became a leaflet on the windshield of nobody's car. It drove along. Vroom. Vroom. We are on our way, the way, a way. It bodes of bad epitaphs and ill reports.

I am not out, said the Bad Magician. I am in.


Goddamn Theaters! They're everywhere! Clap, clap, clap. The Bad Magician smashed his hands at all the heads. Clap, clap, clap. Like doors slamming shut in a metal house. They have entered His House. He tries to shake his audience but they only mingle. Deep in the lobby he spies the case, a glass box of reason and magick. The paper inside is torn, bleeding. Bad actors eat the words and shit the meaning. Is this the longest running show on the Beltway? Will everyone please be seated?

There it is, on the marquee: One Night Only, the Death of the Experiment! Gather all who dare. The Stockholders take all the seats and eat the arm rests. Critics crawl upon all fours and snarl like gilded robots. The Curtain catches fire, and the First Act unfolds. Three Witches find Seven Warlocks and Two Imprints alone in the calamity. Two wanderers return their corpses, but the ground is sealed. Twelve mirrors and Fifty Lavender Gnomes adjust their sockets as a Great Casket is carried onto center stage. Inside is the Word Thing, of Law and Right Denials. A shot rings out. End Act One.

In the lobby a man made of popcorn cannot stop popping. Priests cry as he explodes on the carpet. Salt is offered by the Suits. Everyone in line begins digging into him until the floor is all that's left. The lights flicker, and the carpet blinks. Act 2. Come on Act 2. The Man becomes a poster. Run to your seats! Act 2! Act 2!

Act 2 is wild. Guns are fired. Rapers are raped. Half of a century is blown apart. The audience gasps, eats, gasps, sighs. Blood is shed until it is only water. Water devolves and there is not a dry eye in the house. A governor whacks his head with what appears to be a very large jawbone. What is this nonsense? asks the audience. After that the ceiling accelerates and seat belts are offered. The Great Word Thing is stripped naked and burnt offerings go upstage, downstage. The Voice cries Democracy is Dead! All hail Democracy! A pile of straw grows until the orchestra pit is buried. The Conducter smirks and floats above the cello section. Gravity is a mistake. Thus ends Act 2.

There is no intermission. The audience exchanges skin for fibers. Part of the sky is thrown out by ushers with ornate light sticks. No one dares die.

Act 3 will be the Final Act. Everyone claps. Claps. Claps. The Curtains return in the shape of impossible birds. Roman columns throw their shadows into steel bars. The audience is amused. The Great Circle of Fire rises and approaches the Great Word Thing and snickers. Hee-hee. I will burn the Experiment! I will burn the Fever Dream! The audience pretends to gasp and the Fibers rise and fall. The Great Experiment is on Fire! It burns the curtains, the chairs, the orchestra, the sky. Nothing is left. The last popcorn kernal lies inert. This is the place where applause used to cascade down like rocks from the mountains. This is now the place where children raid the till. The show is over. No one leaves.

Mondays are dark at the Theater. The Bad Magician is trembling in the wings. He's on next.


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