THE REHEARSED AUDIENCE
It is easy to overlook the eerie implication of that remark at the bottom of page 10: As the audience (UA) enters the room, a very loud applause erupts from a rehearsed audience (RA). [ ] The UA [Unrehearsed Audience] interrupts a performance that has been going on without them. They are interlopers.
Wheeling from this clue fragment in narrowing circles through the playscript the RA [or Rehearsed Audience] all off a sudden appears as unmistakably part of the game, obviously as committed to it as the Janitor is. Strictly spoken, they attended most of the reenactments, they obviously know what's going on, they have read the script or at least had the opportunity to do so, they have dozens of lines and are prompted a most accurate identity as early as halfway Part One, immediately after the first interruptive move of the paper puppets which ends with a stagequake, as one may call it, floorboards begin to crack and the actress falls and rolls out of the stage. At that unfortunate moment, when she struggles to get her stage identity clarified, which alltogether doesn't work out very well, the RA is marked as an old and angry mob. Good Legends, one of the presumed RA-members states, are as unavoidable as staring at the wallpaper. [ ] you probably know the rule with legends... the one that rides piggyback on the boring, banal, and mundane story trumps the real one that needs an imagination with an engine. Another one shouts: We kick'em out, every one of them! And a third one: The sheer size of our theatre... And here it is. It is their theatre. Or as C roughly determines the whole thing: She [the actress] had made no silent pacts with the actor's guild. [ ] Shortly after The Actor emerges from the closet carrying a tabloid. He didn't witness anything. He's as bluntly an idiot, or worse, a dreamer, an easy mark, as anyone else converted to the wisecrack of the so-called wiser men.
Whatever plot the play may have, the [RA] made it up and pleasantly exploits all of it. The Pursuit has good reason to grasp the wrinkled rubber cheeks, getting each single specimen down to the bone of its perverted, pornographic grin. [As staged in Witold Gombrowicz' 1966 novel, even more daring so in Salo, Pier Paolo Pasolini's final movie, pornography - usually seen, experienced and advertised as a trademark for sex-related sports - in its bare essence covers a lust for power, from its abuse emerging variaties as many as any encyclopaedia may be able to handle.]
The real identity of the Rehearsed Audience or [RA] doesn't matter all too much, as anyone with any such tendencies, editing a tabloid, running a butchery or producing fancy artwork could feel tempted to join the prodigious circle. However, as is the case here & now, having no other identity than A, B and C, masked with a noun so minimal that it gets abstract, its members act as VIP-experts. They own the place. They feed the pig. They point the jury. They pay the volunteer fee, which enables the janitor to feel at home. They interrupt the scenery whenever they feel it necessary to do so. And they do love the unrehearsed guests. A little killing, whenever necessary, may be executed by as good as anyone involved in the spectacle. They sell anything it needs. Needs germinate with the spoken word. Put on the feather boa, Madame. Sir, put on the gentlemen's hat. You there, a few streaks of fake blood... [The plot in a way touches that of La disparition, anyone getting all too near to its solution gets slaughtered.]
So, when the Unrehearsed Audience, willing to make abstraction of the dirted place, as they paid for the tickets, enters the theatre, the [RA] - intimate with each little corner of the goddamn script - gives them a warm and heartily applause, as roaring and as long as possible, exploding once more half a phrase later and turning, as soon as the actress questions their appearance, into a discordant booing, grumbling and hissing. The play hasn't begun and yet it came to an end.
A DISTORTED CHRONOLOGY
I take Berlin Stories from the bookshelf, Berlin Stories by Robert Walser, the New York Review Books edition from 2012, translated by Susan Bernofsky and others, originally published by Suhrkamp Verlag as Berlin gibt immer den Ton an, and open it on a nearly blanco page, halfway the book, with a title only, the title of the second episode I discover, which awkwardly, I don't tackle the adjective as I should, as one may expect, which awkwardly, or rather, which oddly has THE THEATER, not spelled as theatre, I had to check that one of course or I just as well could have dropped the complete sentence, which, as I said, had THE THEATER as title of what appeared to be Chapter Two. So what I do, I turn the page and tumble once more to a capital thing, THE THEATER, A DREAM. Reading its first phrase won't harm ayone. THE THEATER, I read, poking my nose to a paper handkerchief and humming what easily could be a phrase from Terry Riley's A Rainbow In Curved Air, is like a dream. End of first sentence. In the Greek theater, second one, In the Greek theater, things might have been different; ours is mysteriously, exotically enclosed in a roof-covered, dark building. You go inside, and then a few hours later you emerge again as if from a peculiar slumber, returning to nature and to real life, and the dream is dispelled. Quotation closed. The [RA] eventually doesn't need to think of anything more exotic than the gain it has. They own the theatre. They presumably constructed the stage, the walls, the seats and the roof it has, or they bought a ruined factory, fixed a few things, putting Calatrava on it may have been that tiny little bit too much for a taste fed on horse meat, especially when they had to burn the place down every next season. One can't expect Calatrava to have a practicable and low-cost solution for any such unreasonable efforts. And besides all that, the complete cast needs to be rejuvenated every next season if they get stuck with an old school stage-manager.
Awkward could be the right word this time. The Prelude of the theatrical hoax we have been discussing for nearly a decade right now, taking page 9 up to page 12, also known as its closing time, in which the actress has but a few lines, is in a rather obstructing way followed by ACT I (Earlier that Spring.) and apart from the [RA]-members, exchanging their exclusive seats for a jolly good old riot, the end of anyone involved. The chronology has an odd touch of genius. But, then, anyone able to get hold on the uncompromising needs of the script and fortunate enough to be more or less a lookalike, as easy-wet a candidate as anyone goes. Any actress goes. Any actor, to replace the former figure. As soon as potted any audience makes the show. [ ]