Sunday, March 13

Orphic rites

We are all aware that most of life escapes our senses: a most powerful explanation of the various arts is that they talk of patterns which we can only begin to recognize when they manifest themselves as rhythms or shapes ... during the war the romantic theatre, the theatre of colours and sounds, of music and movement, came like water to the thirst of dry lives. At that time, it was called escape and yet the word was only partially accurate. It was an escape, but also a reminder: a sparrow in a prison cell. When the war was over, the theatre again strove even more vigorously to find the same values ... it was the theatre of a battered Europe that seemed to share one aim -- a reaching back towards a memory of lost grace.

Walking along the Reeperbahn in Hamburg on an afternoon in 1946, whilst a damp dispiriting grey mist whirled round the desperate mutilated tarts, some on crutches, noses mauve, cheeks hollow, I saw a crowd of children pushing excitedly into a night club door. I followed them. On the stage was a bright blue sky. Two seedy, spangled clowns sat on a painted cloud on their way to visit the Queen of Heaven. 'What shall we ask her for?' said one. 'Dinner,' said the other and the children screamed approval. 'What shall we have for dinner?' 'Schinken, leberwurst ...' the clown began to list all the unobtainable foods and the squeals of excitement were gradually replaced by a hush -- a hush that settled into a deep and true theatrical silence. An image was being made real, in answer to the need for something that was not there.

-- Peter Brook The Empty Space