Dreamed 1996/5/16 by Chris Wayan
I'm in a foreign land, watching a cabaret musical staged by a traveling troupe. The plot and characters seem vague. At first I blame myself--an avant-garde production, a half-understood language, alien cultural assumptions... Or is the show just thin? Maybe it's like CATS, just a showcase for the singers and dancers? They're beautiful... no question about that.
A sailor dances. He's a Gene Kelly clone, wearing a baggy suit that gradually grows on him. He starts peeling it off to reveal another sailor in there with him, and another... a whole chorus climbs out of that suit! Then another chorus line comes out of the Wicked Witch of the West's robe as she's melting. Impressive! It can't just be trap doors, for the dancers are moving around the stage as their extra selves emerge.
The play's set in the future, after a nuclear war. Mutations are common--like four arms. I think it's just great make-up, till the leading man starts gesturing with all four hands at once! The first pair express his conscious feelings, the second pair his unconscious--a clever gimmick giving even simple scenes surprising depth. A skinny twelve-year-old girl plays his unconscious hands, by reaching around from behind him, shadowing him skillfully, dancing his dance, baring his secret heart... What an intimate pas de deux--tight up against him, mirroring every move, arms around him, being him, the "him" even he doesn't see... yet never embracing him.
When they break for intermission, she steps out on her own, into the light, a shadow set free. She smiles shyly at us for a moment, then runs offstage. By her name in the program, she's the director's daughter.
Her big sister, fifteenish, plays a slave dancer treated by her rich owner and friends as a mere sex toy or exotic pet. She IS a very sexy dancer, and she's nearly nude onstage--illegal, in this country. But they get away with it, because she's made up as a mutant: she has a mare's tail and furry hindquarters, almost like a Greek faun, and two extra arms, latex ones fused to her shoulders, rather than played by her little sister. But the rest of her, face and torso, is her own, and quite naked. I guess the arms and tail distance her from most viewers, so they see her as a creature, not human--but after all my animal dreams, I just see a very hot girl--of a new species.
Her owner tells the slave girl to dance for some of his business clients. She has a wonderful dance solo, during which she bursts into song--turns her role as background entertainment, as titillation, into a declaration of her spirit, still shining out through her slavery...
And no one notices. The slave-owning businessmen idly glance at her solo, but to them she's just tits and ass.
And offstage, out here in the "free" world? No one notices here, either! No one but me is watching. The cabaret audience drinks and dines, flirts and cuts deals... barely noticing the mare-girl dancing in the lights.
You know, she could strip off all that latex, dance naked, yell obscenities... All that careful sidestepping around the law was pointless. Unneeded, because no one out there sees, or hears, or cares.
No one's listening at all.
NOTES NEXT MORNING
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