HAPPENING

The invitations to the Experimental Theatre’s newest play contained no details about the performance. They did not name the playwright, the director, or the actors. The venue was different than usual and it was new to theatergoers, at least as as a performance space. After showing their tickets and passing through a short corridor into a vast hall, it turned out that the audience could go into either of two rooms, like in a movie theater. The doors were open, revealing rows of chairs in front of the raised stages, and it was hard to figure out which to choose. Either the theatre staff wasn’t there, or they were hiding, which forced the confused spectators to wonder what they were supposed to do. Some stood in the middle of the hall, looking now to the left, now to the right; others threw up their hands in frustration and chose a room at random.

The lights began to fade; it seemed like the play was about to begin. But this normally pleasant moment of hushed anticipation was disturbed by the restlessness of the audience. Most of them were shifting in their seats, nervously turning around to try to see into the other room, because wasn’t it possible the actors would appear there instead?

Meanwhile music was starting, replacing the spectators’ murmuring as it grew louder and louder, and the entrance door was closed, increasing the general agitation. Several actors appeared and captured the audience’s attention for a while, but it didn’t take long for the people closest to the exit to start trying to move quietly into the other room, to see what was going on in there. But they quickly came back, unable to believe their own eyes (and only then fully understanding the meaning of the phrase). The same actors were on both stages, speaking the same text! Soon some of the audience, on the verge of insanity, went back again to the other room to check if it was really was the same on both stages. But now they had to push their way through the crowd, because by this time the people in the front rows had heard that something strange was going on, and they were also trying to get in to see for themselves.

It wasn’t until the text, amplified by loudspeakers, managed to drown out the general hubbub that the hysterical audience realized it was about them. The words they were hearing began to make sense, and it became clear that they weren’t spectators at all. They had been the actors from the start, and the audience were the Mroczek brothers, the Damieckis, and some other pairs of twins, divided into two identical groups…

[Przełożyła Saba Litwińska]

Gru 21, 2017 by