Excerpt from The Michael Ridler Project
Lighting: house lights dim, general stage wash focusing mid- to downstage centre.
Very quietly we hear the groping 'cello opening the first movement of Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3. Lighting as above. The actor playing DAVID comes out and finds a comfortable spot. He addresses the audience in a friendly, host-like manner, more himself than a character.
DAVID: What you are about to see is the re-enactment of a story that has already happened. Because it is a re-enactment, you will know it is false. Because I am an actor playing a role, I, also, am false. But that does not make it any less true. As writer/philosopher, Roland Barthes, said, "Everything is true."
Theatre has a way of expropriating anything it can swallow and regurgitating it in another fashion later on, whether it has fully digested it or not. In that way, it is not unlike a love affair. Everyone who touches us leaves some trace of their passing, like an imprint on the skin, because, once again, everything is true.
What our presentation purports to be is an epiphany of sorts. It celebrates a malignant universe run by a perverse god whose chief icon is a disease that violates its celebrants. Its priests are lunatics chanting a solemn mass in a minor key. And, while we may question its moral authority, we have no means of displacing it.
The central character in our pageant is an artist whose life was a celebration staged on the edge of an abyss.
(Lights come up to reveal MICHAEL suspended mid-air slightly upstage left. The rope ladder he hangs from should suggest an umbilical cord or loose strand of DNA. He slowly performs a blind, mute, birth-like descent during the remaining text of the prologue.)
He took great joy in peering over the edge at the depths below and calculating his charmed existence that he thought would never allow him to fall. He was blessed with special powers--gifts and abilities--that made him different from the rest of us. His greatest gift was to celebrate his madness instead of hiding it under a rock.
This is also a story about love--between mother and child, between man and man. About the strengths and depths of that love, and the shores we shipwreck ourselves on trying to escape it.
Once you have witnessed our presentation, you may dismiss it as false, as propaganda, as spectacle, as whatever else it is you despise. But remember this: like love, all art contains within itself a germ of exploitation. Every attempt at representation is a violation. And because every re-enactment is someone else's projection, it will always deny its subject a voice. For that and other reasons, this performance speaks to and about a gay community, but not for it.
(The actor playing DAVID looks up to mark MICHAEL's descent, seems pleased. He turns away from the audience as though leaving, then turns back briefly.)
Oh, yes--one final note. You should know this play contains pornographic elements--if you have any objections to that, please leave now. If you are a member of a public morality body, kindly identify yourself to one of our staff who will protect you from those portions of the script. Thank you.
(The actor exits upstage left. MICHAEL continues his descent as lights fade. Sound increases in volume till it fills the space like an ethereal element, a fog seeping in. Darkness. The following slides are projected full length across the back wall over the silhouette of MICHAEL as he continues to descend:)
CREATED BY JEFFREY ROUND
MICHAEL reaches the ground and detaches himself from the cord.
© Jeffrey Round 1993
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