Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
This essay was originally written and published within The Neo-Futurists: BODY, a literary magazine published by the theater as a sort of “exquisite corpse” project.
The sheer volume of the death in our theater.
I can’t even.
He kills the mood and she kills the lights and that joke kills and the applause dies down and the time expires and that play’s had its life so it’s pushed down the stairs. There is blood and hair in the cast iron hinges of the front row seats, there is the snapping trapped echo of an ankle in the floor, there is an iota of emerald-flecked neurotoxin hoboing its way through the air from the lobster that didn’t survive, the silent confusion of the earthworms in the gasoline. Incantations carved into the wall with knives. Sacrificial rituals that summon more demons than the massive black masses at any Black Mass.
The building is ninetysomething and the rooms must be eightysomething and the theater is twentysomething and for most of its life it’s been stacked on a funeral home; and of the sixtysome people who have made up the ensemble one of those people is dead.
You are Jesus Mary and bloodydamn right we have ghosts.
There’s the creak in the wood of a space that can’t settle, a space that’s been home to an art that can’t settle, a creak in the wood that compels you to action, walking with purpose through hallways and doorways, walking with a machete you pulled from the props. It’s a creak that makes you ask why it is you’re the last one to leave, and then something in the shadow might answer.
There’s the very old woman, or the man in the glasses, who sat in the front row during both your auditions, the woman or man to whom you handed an item, the woman or man who at your very first rehearsal nobody in the room could remember.
There’s the decision you made that one time onstage with the audience member who took your art hostage and refused to let go. There’s the way that decision has haunted you since.
There’s the half-second before the downspot goes out. There’s the paint from the show half a decade ago.
There are ghosts in the room that don’t know they are ghosts and there are ghosts in the room that don’t care they are ghosts. There are dead that arise and stillbirths that breathe and half of these things have followed you home.
A theater has to have ghosts; a theater has to make ghosts.
You cannot trust a theater with no ghosts.
A theater with no ghosts has never had anything alive inside it and a theater that never had anything alive inside it was never a theater in the first place.
That’s a fact. That’s a truth. You go ask one of our ghosts and they’ll tell you.