An opening (Day 135/365)

Some days it’s easy. Today, for example, I was creative before I even woke up, hence the early post.

I’ve carrying around in my head for a couple of days some musical ideas for the prologue. In Lacuna, we’ve discussed several ideas for staging, and the one that keeps popping up in my head is the one where we open in a dreary, earthbound inn, where children are stuck with nothing to do and all their elders repress them.

So, from the darkness, we hear a double-bass, rasping out a long, slow note. That note grows stronger and more toned, then the bass slides into a slow version of the Inn theme. Low strings join it in desperate arpeggiation, but the theme goes nowhere, until it bursts into one of those minor (dim.?) orchestral stingers. Lights up on the Dreary Inn, dull and gray and isolated down right.

Old codger reading aloud, unintelligibly [yes, Marc, he can read from Blake]. Two ladies taking tea, murmuring with pinched noses. Three children, fidgety, shushed by the ladies and the codger.

Disreputable looking handyman, in whiskers and a smock, shuffles through. Surreptitiously hands the children an engraving of … something the audience can see, the Wise Cow or the King of Cats… “Watch,” he tells the children, and as he shuffles off, the engraving vanishes in flame.

He returns and gives one child a music box. “Listen,” he says, and the child opens it. It plays the Inn theme, and the child is shushed. The old codger goes to the harmonium and begins playing “Jerusalem,” badly. The handyman comes in and stops him, with an “Out of Order” sign, indicating he needs to repair it. He plays a couple of bars of “Blake Calls for Fire.” The lighting struggles to change, as probably it does each time Blake’s magic threatens reality.

The handyman turns his back to us, and when he turns around, he sheds his whiskers and smock and is revealed as William Blake. “Believe,” he says to the children. He spreads his wings (!) and soars into the space center stage. He beckons the children as “William Blake’s Inn” begins, more eerie than I’ve got it scored at the moment.

At “Two mighty dragons brew and bake,” the couch where the two ladies are sitting turn into the dragons. The ladies themselves sprout wings and become the “two patient angels.” The feathers from their shaken linens bloom into the snowstorm. Other children can be dimly seen playing in the snow. The Inn pulsates with light here and there.

And then it all fades. Blake soars away and vanishes. The dragons turn back into the couch, the wingless ladies take their tea, and the old codger finishes wheezing out the last two bars of Jerusalem on the harmonium, now without its “Out of Order” sign.

The children are left to find their way to the Inn, now the only reality they want to see.

One thought on “An opening (Day 135/365)

  1. Great visionary improvisation. Blake would be proud. I can imagine those same children running through the building, “taking over” the Inn, waking up the miserable travellers, calling out a “fire alarm.”

    I like the richness of inserting Blake references not necessarily explicit in the poem, like the bad version of “Jerusalem” played at the harmonium.

    He could read Blake. But I also imagine him blind, like Milton, reading, from Genesis in the Old Testament, either the creation account or the tedious list of “begats…”

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