Performance

There are eyes following my every move so I feel the pressure to quickly find a seat. But there’s a maze of seats in front of me, where should I sit? Not too far, or I’ll give the impression that I’m afraid. Not too close to the light, because I want my face to be in the shadows. Once I find a good spot someone says a word, but I can’t say who it was or what it said. It was too quick for me to follow. My mind is still frantically trying to come to terms with the fact that I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or am I expected to do something? The word is repeated, again and again by the people that are around me and look at me, calling upon me.

Afraid to do something wrong by just sitting still, I misinterpret the first words as a welcome and answer cautiously “Good evening!”. I finally understand the last repeated word and blush at my mistake: “Play the game”, they say. So I do and listen to the echoing sentences repeated by moving voices. Some whisper, others talk boldly. From far away or close to my ear, every word reverberates in my mind fishing out reflection and imagination. My doubtful nature is exposed, my loneliness bare in front of these piercing eyes. I see myself seated uncomfortably, vulnerable under a number of curious looks, but so much at ease at the same time that I’m tempted to stand up and follow.

As it started it ends and, uncertain again, I leave them to the next visitor, wishing I could stay a little more.

What have others felt though? A morbid desire to know what others have experienced takes over and I would like to spend hours interrogating the actors at the end of their performance, paying their stories in wine and food. But they are understandably exhausted. I see in their eyes the energy they have spent to give us this overwhelming experience. For the first time I realise I don’t have the means to tell them how much they have touched me, how much I thank them for what they have given me. For all the words of our different languages I can only think of a long comforting hug to articulate my emotion. I would like to look them in the eyes for an unsettling long minute, then take them in my arms one by one and secretly whisper “Thank you”. But it would probably be awkward, so I satisfy myself with staring at them hoping my eyes can carry my important message.

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