fiftieth part, called “subject matter L,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

subject matter

On one side, the suppression of movement on a then contagious surface, relating to the disordering by comedy, public shaming and so on; on the other side, the self-appointment of theatrical means to be those representing order, with a relation to a tragic representation: both worked together. The one was by political expediency, since it meant to show self-identity in the political subject. He is the one good at playing the tragedy, believes in himself, takes it for necessity. The other was an internal suppression of subjective powers in theatre, those appertaining to the surface. Against these the state defined itself, while, naturally, making use of them, in fact, needing expert advice to do so, derived from a psychological theatre, psychological theatre representative of structural, legally constituted necessity, and subjection, with, as we know, the necessary redundancies that come with representing self to self. Mirror of the soul; mirror of the state.

Between one and the other, or we might as well say, between political suppression and repression, a reversal, a swapping of masks took place. The tragedian’s for the comic actor’s. But this is only half the story. The reversal occurred to the political surface, itself. Representatives of the state arrived at the theatre wearing masks. And looking out from the stage across the audience, our actors recognised the task that had befallen them: they were to speak the truth. To power.

And what did the audience do? It listened with reverence. Because its members knew too that this was their role. And, so all speaking to power goes.

At interval it saw itself in diminishing numbers, took on the (surface) size and scale of the calamity. And the tears that came with that acknowledgement acted like glue on the underside of the masks. While our actors, at the end, empty as usual, came out to the bar and congratulated each other mildly but the director profusely and seriously, who bore the weight of responsibility for all.

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