this stage

A Guest Post by Samuel Steere


[A Word from Mr. Pond: Here’s the second installment in our exploration of music and fantasy–and the act of subcreation that infuses both.]

this stage
samuel steere

I don’t like this stage.
Hot lights pour down on me as my arms flail,
drowning in expectation as sound attempts
to emanate from my vocal chords
which tie me down, binding me to perception.

I am not me, only a caricature of a person
that has never existed.
I am not alone.
This stage is filled with facade,
parading around in a masquerade of artifice,
those artificial face-coverings denying the display of identity,
an identity stolen by lights, laughs and
the six feet between the stage and reality.
Who knew that death was above, not below the ground?

And so I like this stage.
The heat of the lights gives warmth to my skin
as my arms demonstrate beauty and strength.
Expectation drowned by dramatic performance
as vibration stirs from the chords of my freedom.
Music is freedom, denying the confines of perception
and piercing to the unsuspecting core of calloused cacophony.

I am myself, my two-stringed instrument completely unique.
Vocalization speaks my soul into being, and I find myself in the melody.
But I remember…only one Voice can resurrect this faceless corpse on the stage.
In the vicarious vivacity of that Voice, I am alive and existing on any stage…

And I am not alone.

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4 thoughts on “this stage

  1. I love this. I must read it again and again. “I am not me.” and “I am myself.” “And I am not alone.” and “the six feet between the stage and reality” are potent to me.

    The first time I was cast in a play in high school – I was cast as the villain (so to speak) in an Agatha Christie work. I was so disappointed I didn’t get the ingenue part. I remember coming home and telling my mother – and she celebrated saying “you have the lead! Be happy! Playing a villain doesn’t make you bad – it shows how good you can be. Have fun with it. It’s make-believe.” She was right. I was not me – I was myself. I had lots of fun being bad. And those six feet allowed me to.

    Beverly Sills once said – A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.

  2. Oooh — I always wanted to be the villain! Those parts are usually more colorful and character oriented, in my experience.

    I have a deep love for the stage, and for acting, which is partly why I found Sam’s poem so resonant. But it also reminds me of some (chilling) recitals I’ve been in…

    Love the Sills quote. There is an elevation–particularly in the performance or creation of art, but also in reception of it–that suspends us in those shimmering six feet of silence, the lights that let us feel rather than see the audience. And we begin to discover that here, alone with everyone else, in this whirl of life and energy, who we are, who we become, and even hear echoes of what we’re trying, hoping, to say.

    On a completely different note, a few weeks before a given performance, I’d invariably have recurring nightmares of showing up for rehearsal to discover it was actually the performance, and no one on the cast knew any of their lines…

  3. the lights that let us feel rather than see the audience. So true. I can perform for two thousand people easy in a theatre. But put me in someone’s living room with four friends and the lights on and I get performance anxiety.

    Mr. Pond – I have those nightmares too. Except in my nightmare, I arrive late backstage and in my dressing room I’m hearing the overture on the intercom. Then I hear the stage manager giving me a cue to stage and I realize the overture is to a different Opera than I prepared for. It’s always the same Opera – Tosca. I was a Mozart singer – and I was thinking it was Cosi Fan Tutte. I go out onstage and try to wing it – I wake up drenched in flop sweat.

  4. Joivre — ha, me too! Always a million times more nervous in a living room than onstage.

    Just wondering what you think your grandmother would make of your dream?

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