Show Biz....


Viswa Subbaraman has managed to arrange a performance of my work THE SNOW DRAGON in some strange town. Actually it appears not to be my opera at all, but a spoken word stage play adapted from it. What's more, he has arranged for me to play the role of the villain, Stark, myself, but as it happens I arrive at the theater on the opening night, with my parents and sisters and their companions, and I have to see them to their seats before we begin.

We discover that they are seated in Row B, but this row isn't part of the tiered, bleacher-like seats that are the main part of the theater, instead there are two rows sort of tucked under the diagonal shelter created by the angle of the bleachers. These two rows are directly above one another and each accessible by their own stairs, and have a mini-wall in front so each is equally a "front row" seat.

We have the tickets but for some reason, we need to pay for them even though we're already at the seats. My mother hands me a wad of 500 baht notes, and the seats are 1,100 each. I am desperately trying to count out the 500 notes to come up to a correct number of 1,100 seats with no change. At length I realize it will never work, and the play will start soon and I have to change, so I leave them and go to find my dressing room.

However, I can't find it anywhere. I go up some stairs and enter a room where a small group of African Americans wearing period costume is rehearsing a costume drama, but it's not my play. Presently, I see, looking out a window, some of the characters from my work, warming up and getting ready to go on stage. I look down but don't see where they're coming from or what the access to the stage is. They are wearing Victorian dress and the lines are not familiar to me.

In one dialogue exchange, a man is trying to talk a woman into something (perhaps sexually harassing her) and he says, "But they all do this on Neptune!" and she responds, "Ha! I doubt you've even been to Neptune."

I start doubting the wisdom of appearing in this play since I've never been to a rehearsal, even though it is supposedly a version of my work. I keep thinking, How did Viswa Subbaraman get me this gig? He's a conductor, he's not in the spoken word world. Finally, I realize that whatever it is, it should be like my opera more or less, so whenever they push me onstage, my first line is going to be "I'll talk to him."

I come down the stairs to the foyer of the theater, I tell the usher, "You gotta tell me how to get into makeup and costume!" They are confused but finally one of them takes me outside. Across the street there is a a huge square not seen from the street because it is bordered by shops facing the street. "It's in the fair, in the square," says the usher. 

"Show me where! You realize this show is going to be totally different as it is. I will have to improvise my part. The other actors are going to have to wing it too."

I enter the concealed square where indeed, a fair is going on, with stalls, balloons, and stands selling toys. But where is the dressing room? Finally someone directs me to an entrance in the center that leads down to what he calls Level X. It looks like the entrance to an underground parking lot, and there are wide stairs with railings in the center leading downward. I dash down the steps, noting that everyone has already left, shouting, "The play is gonna be at least thirty minutes late, and won't even be the same play!"

Then I wake up.