Friday, February 09, 2007

death in real life

As you know if you're a regular visitor here, I've been involved in the theater club. The play we've been rehearsing is a playful and irreverent piece about death, more specifically a restive bunch of fair weather friends who have come to observe traditional rite of viewing the body of a recently deceased. In this play the customs of civility inexorably give way to candor and then degrade further in to a sort of orgy of aspersions . It's all very witty and clever...the cast has had a great time with the lines and with the challenges of bringing characters to life, a prime example being an unfortunate character who finds herself trapped in this scene needing to find a toilette but being thwarted utterly in her attempts to get relief. Her ultimate solution is disagreeable to say the least. One character, played with great relish by the German teacher here (Jean) who is also the theater advisor, tries in vain to restore some dignity to the proceedings by uttering the following line, "On parle d'un mort ici, un peu de tenue, merde!" ("We're speaking of a dead person here, show some respect, for chrissake!") It is a line he utters at least a dozen times in the piece. Jean has a genuine flair for theater in general and he manages to deliver this line a little differently each time, but each time to great effect and with a playful twinkle in his eye. The kids obviously very fond of him, and he of them. It is great to see this kind of relationship between kids and teachers.

And then early this week the shocking news that Jean's partner had died suddenly in the night of a heart attack. Jean, of course, did not come to work for a few days. Our troupe met and it was decided that we could not go on with this particular play. The whole idea of so diffidently mocking the corpse and the memory of a dead person, seemed suddenly beyond the pale. Even harder to imagine was Jean puffing himself in feigned indignance to utter his signature line. In short all the fun had gone out of the play and had been replaced by an unexpected chill from the real thing.

Marie, our director, had promised to find a new script but it is late in the year... this will prove to be quite a challenge for everyone involved.


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