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  • majoki

the play's the thing

Updated: Feb 6

“Director Prime, we’re so pleased you have a few moments to chat with us before the premiere of your latest production. We hear it’s a new type of performance piece.”

“All art is performative. It must be experienced.”

“So what are we to experience?”

“A cataclysmic interstellar drama in three acts.”

“Rather a standard form for Global Theater. Not exactly a signature work.”

“This drama will play out in real time. On a real world.”

“I see. That is a fresh twist. Will you walk us through the plot.”

“In Act I we zoom in on a somewhat primitive planet limping from crisis to crisis. The kind of things we often see in the galaxy’s Third Worlds: famine, war, civil strife, etc. Emissaries are dispatched to offer aid and comfort as well as entry into our Greater Solar Alliance, but as our open-minded delegates bring hope to the ever-bickering indigenous populace, we’ve inserted a radical Nativist stowaway planning to detonate a quantum planet-buster.”

“Pardon, Director Prime, but so far this sounds like very typical Global Theater fare.”

“Except it is actually going to happen. As we speak, the cast are already arriving in-system light years away without the knowledge that they are carrying a very real and determined suicide bomber with an armed planet-buster bomb. In a few moments, when the performance goes live to our Solar Alliance audience, the clock will start its cataclysmic countdown. Our audience will quickly understand what is at stake. But our cast will not. Do you see, do you feel, the brilliant enormity of it?”

“I dread it.”

“Exactly. Of the three fears--dread, terror, horror--dread is the strongest. The unrevealed, the unknown, creates in one’s mind endless and awful possibilities. Dread is gut wrenching. And it leads us to Act II where our players discover the Nativist threat and terror takes hold. Panic on the planet ensues and our players struggle to defeat the Nativist who seeks an end to galactic expansion and inter-species integration. All the while, what little time they have ticks relentlessly away. Annihilation appears inevitable, escape impossible.”

“It sounds monstrous, Director Prime. How can you countenance inflicting this kind of terror on your cast and an unsuspecting planet of fellow sentients?”

“Art. Art is the soul. The soul is art. Act III reveals that very clearly. Our players finally understand that they are not in a drama, that this is real and that their lives are in peril, that the lives of all the primitives on the planet are also in jeopardy. They face a stark choice. They must act, not as actors, but as heroes. Or they flee, abandoning the hapless planet’s populace to certain destruction. We will not know the outcome until the final seconds play out. Never before has there been a production like it.”

“But that is unconscionable. You're saying that a few light years away this perverse performance is actually beginning? That this atrocity will play out as spectacle over the entire galaxy and there will be no way to stop it? It is monstrous. No one will accept it.”

“An unsurprisingly narrow view for a critic. You see, true ground-breaking artists are never responsible for the audience experiencing a happy ending. Especially those shit-hole Earthlings.”




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