Friday, October 21, 2005

The Aesthetics Question

Scene: The foyer of a small community theatre less than a light-year distant. (In all cases the guilty are protected -- not the innocent.)
It is Magic Time -- not that described by Moss Hart in Light Up the Sky-- but the brief inter-regnum between the end of one production and the start of rehearsals for the next, that all too brief period when the theatre belongs solely to the techies.
As the curtain rises the foyer is empty. Double doors right lead to the auditorium. A single door center leads to the dressing rooms and back stage areas. At the left a staircase -- grand only in a kind of Baptist/Woolworth's Five and Dime way -- leads down to the street entrance. The hall began life as a church and slid lower in the heavenly pecking order after the founders so succeeded that they could build a large suburban edifice more suited to comfort their afflicted parrisioners.
But enough cheap sarcasm.
A noise of raucous theatre types issues up the stairs just as ML, a burly, bearded techie type emerges from the auditorium. He is the current techie gofer for a modest community of artistes who are -- as usual -- reluctant to sully their hands.
BW arises from below not unlike a blowsy Irish Venus -- though fully clad. She is the former techie gofer who has been absent for some time findng the working conditions less wearing at other local theatres. Temporarily. Now she returns to direct the next production.
This Community Theatre is little different from any other theatre. They adore drama. Off-stage drama is always preferable. They are not above planting their thumbs on the butcher's scale to heighten the muuuhd, either. These on-lookers have been preparing their fighters for some time. Little hints about how unreasonble the other is and so on. Good clean fun.
Now, at last, the meeting occurs.

ML (who was expecting her and has a hopeful twinkle in one eye): The odious Ms BW, I presume?

BW (who was expecting him and has a vagrant dimple flitting on and off her cheek): Then, sure, you will be the dictatorial Mr ML. (Says she in a terrible broad stage brogue.)

ML: I am reliably informed (Several onlookers titter) that you have very decided ideas about the job of a lighting designer?

BW: 'Deed I do.

ML: Enlighten me, pray.

BW (absent the brogue in a clarion -- even stentorian-- voice): The first function of a lighting designer is to make it possible for the audience to see all of the set and players.

ML: Too true.

BW: The second function is to provide any special effects required, viz.: moonlight through a window, a lightning flash, a welcoming fire in the grate.

ML: quite.

BW (Riding over the interuption): The third function of the lighting designer is to suggest mood, or time of day, season and so forth.

ML: Uhm-hmm

BW: Finally, if the designer has any instruments left and any time available, she is at liberty to be artistic.

ML: Happens maybe once a decade.

BW: Optimist.

ML: Well, that covers it. Right on all counts. (He opens his arms)

They embrace. The onlookers turn ashen.
Tableaux and curtain.

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