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Stage Violence (or Un Bacio Ancora)
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Stage Violence (or Un Bacio Ancora)

by Lisa Annelouise Rentz

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About Lisa Annelouise Rentz

Lisa Annelouise Rentz lives in a three hundred year old village in the Lowcountry and is part of the Do No Harm Artists of South Carolina.

 

Once I passed thirty years of age and once I finally acquired, via scalpel, the ass I always wanted, my life settled into a gratifying routine. I had found the right seat, as it were, in the place where I lived and the livelihood I chose and the person I cuddled. Even the struggles were right: I never could get paid acting roles, but instead found a community theater that drew a crowd, most of the time. We were all amateurs and we had fun and we didn’t perform Disney branded productions. We acted for ourselves.

A new stage formed for me. We had just finished a play that disappointed me. I don’t like variety shows, like this one that re–hashed a classic production– “now we’ll say it all backwards!” “now we’ll pretend it’s a football game!” Garbage. My disappointment was in the audience. They liked it, the healthy number of people who turned out. They said so loudly, more than usual. Clapbravoencore.

The new stage was a few blocks of street that stretched between houses and shops and trees. Strong curbs and hard concrete, all very typical. Which typical doesn’t matter, many streets like it exist, sociologically speaking. Anyone can walk down this street, unless– even when– it’s a bad idea. Yes, there is anybody out there. As long as the street is not caving in or cratered it will be linear and a way to go.

I made it my role, with my new ass, to perform here as I to and fro’d in my routine.

Act one.

A man walks down a typical street. Not in a hurry. He is short-waisted, and that 50-is-the-new-30 age. This man has a problem with names. He named his daughter Happy, and she is not. He goes by his initials and refuses to reveal the names even when no one asks. He has three names for his one theater company. He uses each one to fulfill a doubt: No one will know. No one will notice. No one will remember. He wants names to be sacred. He feels like a kid with a plastic baseball bat trying to smack the hollow ball far. Plastic bats don’t hurt as much as wood. That is the dilemma.

In this scene the street is linear, it is the aisles and backstage passages; he the names-gone-wrong man walks out of view. Just because he’s been on this street doesn’t mean he can go on living. He goes on directing in his theater.

Act two.

In this scene, written in the lymphatic juices of the playwright, the clouds part and it is morning on a typical street. Woman with the ass walks downstage.

She wonders aloud: Is there a street anywhere in the world that has no birds? She hesitates: should she expand that to the universe? No birds, no pecking— that’s what she likes about the thought of no birds. But, no pecking means more bugs. She hesitates again, see it in her step. More bugs is not worth zero pecking. Some things are so little they have to be pecked. Look around for bugs. Pecking is OK, you can see it in her step.

On cue, people enter and exit from the verges of the linear street, and people enter and exit the prisms made of brick and drywall and a few other materials.

Alongside the street, people live or work or spend money or do something with their bodies, and on every typical street this is all possible because the street got them there. It’s a prop like a lava flow is a fire. People follow the lines to their particular financial and bodily functions. They are not the audience. They are a prop like constellations are horoscopes.

Act three.

An off duty soldier walks along. His physique and hair portray his job, the way street signs have set shapes and colors. One street sign says Dead End, with no dead end in sight. The soldier is thinking. In his rucksack he bears texts for his war class.

Line please.

If you rub something into a wound and it hurts, is it better when it stops hurting? That is the question.

Enter a car. The passenger points at the soldier, and they all connect: driver with his hands on the wheel, grill against the soldier, soldier against the sign post. Out of the car the men do their worst. Arms flail like Baroque statues. Motivation strikes like a blade. The passenger paints a long red smear on the typical street with the propmaster’s widest brush. Center stage the actors look around for applause; in the center of the typical street, a dead body.

Un bacio ancora, one last kiss. Othello said it.

The audience is not Dear Reader. The audience is a satellite. That one up there. The satellite coughs and de-crinkles candy. And Peck— Peckalina, Peckhilda, the Maiden of Peck, the Hag of Peck Village, Pecktra the Warrior Queen, she with the ass keeps walking because she has places to— because she can act!