Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Mystery

I must admit to being a bit startled when I found myself sitting in a theater and the audience all carried programs with a simple cover—only a single image—one that I had made and then forgotten.

My wife and I were given complimentary tickets for an intimate performance of a little-known play: Miss Jairus, A Mystery in Four Tableuax by Michelde Ghelderode (3 April 1898, Ixelles – 1962, Brussels). The play opens with a scene of a distraught father outside the room where his 16 year-old daughter is on the verge of death. Immediately, I came under a spell . . . because at one time I was in the same situation when my own daughter Naomi fell ill and died—and now here I was watching my own life being acted out. 
As the moments unfolded, I began to see that the hand of fate had put me in the audience, with one of my images on the cover of the program.

 The grand scheme had begun earlier, when David Olson, director of Theaterwork had begun preparations for production of a mystical play and while he was in an eclectic resale shop in Santa Fe, had spotted a piece of artwork that had resonated with him. He thought it was apropos for the play he was directing, so he bought it and then tracked me down for permission to use it for the cover of his program. When he spoke with me, at first I did not know what image he was describing; “A woman dressed in cloth, walking with the moon behind her head.” He brought the painting to my gallery and I immediately recognized it as a piece from my past, and the "moon" was actually a halo. In the brochure, and on an easel in the lobby, the piece is now called, “Moon Halo”.

Here is brief description of the play, taken from The Harvard Crimson, by Joel Cohen, October 19, 1964:
De Ghelderode sets Miss Jairus, in the house of a merchant in medieval Bruges. As the merchant Jairus and three old hags who are professional mourners keep a drunken vigil over his dead daughter, the daughter's fiancé suddenly brings in a sorcerer who has been confounding the local clerics and physicians. The fiancé, Jacquelin, cannot stand to lose Miss Jairus and demands that the sorcerer awake her.
When the sorcerer does, Blandine objects to being awakened; she no longer knows her mother, father, or fiancé. Neither truly alive nor truly dead, she begins the long, sleepless wait for another death.
The ringing of distant bells, the coming of Death, as Lazarus, the whining and howling of mourners and a premonitory dog are all techniques of mystery and horror de Ghelderode has used in other plays. They combine in Miss Jairus with a plot-skeleton which is parable. In the final act, on Easter, as Miss Jairus dies, the townsfolk commemorate the Holy Day by taking the sorcerer to a hill outside the town and crucifying him.

In short, I feel that a conjurer acted behind the scenes to put me in this play, and we witnessed this stunning performance on the eve of Fathers Day.

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