WhoMay 23, 2014
Let’s say you’re a performer, and you’re preparing for a show. It’s something you do a lot. They’re setting the thing up, all around you, in a really swanky hall in Vienna. Glances catch you and you notice yourself. You’re singing. Next, a friend of yours in another room who may or may not be able to hear you occurs to you. What they might be thinking about you occurs to you. The producer, no less, is sitting watching you and this, too, occurs to you.
You’re booked, you’re on the bill, you’re in the right place. All the same everything around you seems to ask, who do you think you are? It can take only an ordinary human degree of self-obsession for everyone, sound engineers and janitors included, to feasibly seem to be thinking, at the same time, about you. About what you’re doing, and who you think you are. As if they had no other business. Nothing of their own to concern themselves with.
How lucky, then, that who-you-think-you-are is not what you’re singing about. How lucky that there are such fantastical and mortifying things for us to sing in this world that we need not concern urselves with who-we-think-we-are ever again. And the show happens, and we sing a song, but this is the least of our concens, naturally. The job of a performer is perhaps the only job where forgetting about the job is an important part of the job. Do people go to a show to see someone be correct and appropriate? Or do they go to come back with a glimpse of a soul, or some minute imprint of what they know, somehow, to be so. About living, about being, anything.
He’s there every day, whoever he is, he-who-I-think-I-am. In the best of company he’s there. No doubt I’d be in trouble a lot more often, were he not. But how irresponsible it cam be, and how irresistible too, to have him stand there gawking, tongue-lolling, gormless, between and audience and what they need to see. And how like resignation, despair, relief, how akin to giving up, the sensation, when he falls like a veil, and the truth of the matter steps up.