‘Theater’ Is Just A Fancy Word For ‘Lying’

February 19, 2010 at 11:03 pm (Uncategorized)

A short story for English class that had to be 800-1000 words. I made an exact 1000. Not bad.


‘Theater’ Is Just A Fancy Word For ‘Lying’

Mary: But my love, now the chance is lost, forever. You’ve cast the ruby into the ocean, from whence it shan’t return. What shall we ever do without it?

Daniel: Fear not, my beloved, for the sea is endless but fickle. One day, the ruby shall return, when its time has come, the time the sea has set for it. Return it shall, shining and glorious as ever, and we need only wait.

“Charles?” Fiona called, walking into his dressing room, “Have you got some tea?”
Charles turned around, his hair in a net, ready to don his Daniel wig for technical rehearsals. He smiled and walked over to the other side of the room, where there was a box of teabags and a hot water dispenser. Fiona spoke as he poured her tea, “This is just impossible to handle. Theo has no talent whatsoever for direction. Direction, for Chrissakes! He can’t even decide whether the flowers should be yellow or purple, or whether Mary ought to step to the left or the right or anything. It’s dreadful!”
“Well,” Charles began, handing Fiona her tea and sipping some of his own, “the play is called Torn Asunder. Theo’s got that part right.”

Rehearsals today would be tense. They were opening in less than a week and Theo, heralded to be a talented up-and-coming director, could, as Fiona mentioned, not decide on anything. The set would shift from a heavy blue (to represent the wonder of the ocean) to bright red (to show the passion between Mary and Daniel). Critics said the trouble with Theo was that he wanted to do everything.
Fiona stood alone on the stage (half blue, half red, still being painted), her soft ocean blue dress flowing in an imaginary wind. Mary was talking about her childhood, a lonely speech that served to fill a space when everyone else needed to change costumes.

Mary: And my father told me, “My darling snowbud, don’t you fear the water, it moves only where fate wills it. You too should be like water, free to follow fate.”

Rehearsals ended with Theo less than pleased with the changes he’d decided on yesterday. Everything was changed back or changed to something new. No, there would be no dancers for this scene. Yes, we’ll have the procession back in that scene. The stage is far too bare without it. And for the closing scene, does anyone know where to find a real Scottish bagpiper?

Fiona and Charles were exhausted afterwards, sitting in Fiona’s dressing room (a far messier place than Charles’), ranting about Theo’s incompetence over hot chamomile tea, when they heard a booming voice, crying out onstage, “O, I die, Horatio!” They jumped and gave each other a curious look, as if they wondered whether the other heard it, whether it was real.
They ran to the wings, wondering who’d be in the theater this late, causing the racket. To their surprise, it was an actor, dressed in the 19th century perception of the 11th century (which looked a bit like the 16th century).
“He has my dying voice. So tell him with th’ occurrents more and less which have solicited – the rest is silence.”
With a flourish, the actor then seemed to crumple to the ground and die. Then, before Charles could approach him, he disappeared.

Rattled, the two decided to consult the playbill archive in the backroom that took note of all the plays ever done at the old Beacon. After some searching, they found an 1854 production of Hamlet starring Sir Robert Algernon as the lead. According to the production notes, the play ended badly, when, at the final scene, Sir Robert was killed by a falling sandbag.

Now, every night, they would wait for Sir Robert to appear and make his speech again and again, dying convincingly every time. He didn’t only do Hamlet’s death. He’d sometimes do Romeo or Othello or Brutus.
“But don’t you pity him? Still tormented to die every night, unaware of his own death? Though I must admit, the irony is wonderfully theatrical.” Charles asked, as they sat in the balcony watching him. Fiona merely nodded.
The next day, she came to the theater with an old, haggard gypsy lady (Fiona had funny connections) named Madame Romola, who was a tad dirty with her personal habits, dirt under her nails, bits of food in her hair. The lady said she knew the way of spirits and would like to hold a séance with them, to put Sir Robert to rest. Despite some hesitation from Charles (who was doubtful about people who didn’t bathe often), the two actors set to work preparing candles and old props from Sir Robert’s plays for the séance that night. Soon, everything was ready.
Before they began the ceremony, Madame Romola whispered, “You know, I too was famous actress, back in old country.” The two nodded, Fiona with a smile and Charles with a grimace.

Since that night, the cast and crew noticed something different about Charles and Fiona. The usually shy Charles would walk with great fanfare, like an old-time thespian, something they hadn’t seen in a while. Fiona on the other hand, seemed to have let go, not bothering to fix her hair or wash her face in the morning. Still, the two acted with great gusto on opening night and the play was a smashing success. Critics said it was a marked improvement for both actors, despite the disappointing, confused direction. Also notable was the “highly emotional scene where Mary and Daniel drown in each other’s arms, finally accepting the lost chance that could’ve been their love, the tragedy that is the road not taken.”

However, there was the rumor going around among the stagehands and janitors, of theater ghosts, a man and a woman, who seemed to act onstage after the show, crying to be set free as ever so slowly, the sound of water engulfed them, and drowned out the sound of their voices.


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