MY MOTHER AS CLYTEMNESTRA, THE HEAD OF TRAGOS IN ONE HAND, A PLASTIC SWORD IN THE OTHER:
“Troy has fallen!”
The plastic sword falls silent along the cotton-head of our poor Janitor in drag, on hands and knees.
The crowd erupts as like Spartan whores.
And so the head rolls down, off the stage into the gallery. A thespian scoops it up:
“Happy new year!”
The applause ripples through a sea of flammable faces, clammy clapping hands, whistling, cheering without shame.
It’s a tradition still, if a less profitable one, to burn down the left-over props from the Christmas production, as well as all the elaborate costumes and sets I setup with Camille, matte paintings, backgrounds, and gilded armor, all burnt down by the patrons, the backers who liked high-class theatre, topless highclass theatre. But not my Lizzy, nude or not, because her last name Borden was a bit too much like the French slang Bordel, that is for brothel; mother wouldn’t want such an advertisement.
Lizzy walks into the upstairs bedroom, naked, furious. She slams an axe into her step-mother and goes down stairs. She kills her father, naked still, walks upstairs, takes a shower, the blood circles down the drain. She puts on her clothes,
“I have no idea what happened.”
“You don’t look up a woman’s skirt, not back then,” a laugh. “It was not done.”
She takes the money and runs.
The Janitor was a cliché, dressed as Tragos another tradition and like them all, a cliché in disguise.
So the fire starts somewhere by Juliet’s bedroom. Romeo lit the fire under the curtain with a cigarette and petrol. And Falstaff was supposed to be there. He had reunited with Hal outside.
“The mirth returns!”
As I thought, thinks Hal, “A fool’s born jest.
“I knew it.”
“Renette,” said Alain. “You promised you’d be happy.”
“I promised I’d act happy,” say I. “I’ll try. Give me a minute.”
Pull my hair back,
“Let’s get drunk.”
We sit at the bar. My mother’s lying impressively to a ‘potential’ – these patrons, she fishes and she fishes well, a drunk-fish is a hungry fish and they take the bait and my mother has the gall to catch these animals and never feed them. It’s beautiful.
The Russians had it right.
“Why theatre?” Lane asks.
“All art, theatre that is, exists because Mother Nature is a bad writer. God, that is to say, is a hack.”
“If you could go back in time,” Alain says, “And you could have an evening with anyone, doing anything, what would you do?”
“Dostoevsy,” I say. “I don’t think anybody did misery better. It’d be fun.”
He hands me a drink.
“What would you do?” I ask.
“The politically correct thing, I think, would be to kill Hitler.”
“What would you really do?”
“I’d go swimming with Cleopatra.”
I believed him.
My mother surprises me.
“You’re not going to drink too much?” she asks.
“I won’t drink more than you.”
“Renette,” she says, “I want you to be safe.”
I nod, “Yes, ma’am.”
“Give me 17 sous,” she says. “I’ll give it back to you. My purse is in the shower.”
I gave her 20 sous, a one Franc coin.
“You’re not going to drink too much?”
“I won’t drink more than you,” she says. She walks away, greeting some potential Thagos or another.
The night carries on and on. And finally, tired, they agree to set the stage on fire. All those rolling hills, kitsch skies and acrylic rivers go up in beautiful flames, orange and white and blue.