24th August 2020

The isle of Orcas has perhaps changed, or more correctly the inhabitants, the infamous Orcans have transformed, or most alarmingly of all are very much exactly as they always were.

Any of you familiar with Jacobean or Elizabethan theater will be aware that the most eagerly awaited scene was always that of the transformation, when the mundane and oft distasteful world of everyday reality was magically transformed into a wonderland of color, beauty and visual perfection. The heroes were suddenly braver, heroines more maidenly, the righteous holier, rulers more majestic, even the villains increased in their dastardliness. This explosion of wonder upon the stage anointed the audience by immersion with commonality, a status uniquely concocted to breed unity and indulge propaganda. Shakespeare, his peers, and descendent colleagues being the intimate spokespersons for the ruling elite, not the counter or questioning independent voices so often wishfully contrived.

Having been indoctrinated for several hours with visions of daring do, true passion or dark deceits the sixteenth and seventeenth century audiences would return to the filthy teeming streets aside the theaters filled with a renewed belief in not only the tales, histories and wholesome lessons from the past, but a justification for their present course, purpose and social construct. Unquestionably the narrow streets were still as foul, pestilent, and criminal as they had been yesterday yet were now exponentially sprinkled with the overpowering glitter of theatrical persuasion.

My first impression of this island was very much one of awe, of wonder, of all at once being wholly and unapologetically captivated by the very concept of its magical production and presentation. I fitted quite perfectly, both as an old queen of design and constant practice and as a character exalted by the prospect of being closeted with a multitude of similar theatricals in what was effectively a twenty-four seven costumiers. However, nothing is more truly conformist than a whole morass of individuals headed in entirely different directions.

I have found that initial impressions tend to be outrageously erroneous, that obvious commonalities camouflage a menagerie of differing perspectives, that unity can be just as divisive as discord and generally much harder to counter or overturn when primarily focused around protectionism. Truthfully, the very disposition of being an islander reeks of separatist ideology, of elitism, tribalism, of exclusivity, a sort of overly adapted racism without reference to color, ethnicity or culture, simply to a proclaimed geographic location.

Mine own only saving grace as an inveterate theater goer is that I seldom if ever tarry in  the cockpit carousing with the rowdy hoi palloi, preferring to sit comfortably in the inner or outer circles, the latter being favorite if at all possible and indulge the diehard voyeurism I am so wonderfully  equipped to sustain. That elevated position, as well as ensuring an uninterrupted view, allows a small but invaluable hint at the cunningly hidden workings of that seeming unadorned platform we colloquially designate ‘the boards’, or more correctly entitle the theatrical stage.

Turntables surreptitiously revolve, props appear and disappear from concealed trapdoors and of course scenery rises and falls from the vast proscenium arch that is the heavens above. Each day, every night calls for a new minutely prepared backdrop, enhancing mood, perfectly matching the ambience, capturing the everchanging never tedious script that is island existence. Actors, both twinkling stars and mere supporting players enter and retire as necessary, sometime reciting elucidating lines or even just to momentarily fill an otherwise vacant space. Acts are innumerable, intermissions interspersed quite haphazardly but sufficiently to allow the audience opportunity to catch their collective breath.

Art is quite capable of reflecting life, or at least echoing the more meaningful parts, the tragedy, comedy, mystery and pantomime that endlessly play out in every segment of the sometimes sweet sometimes tart product that is the fruit of our daily labors.  As so aptly stated by the Melancholy Jaques In Shakespeare’s comedy ‘As You Like It’, “All the worlds a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

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