07 / works

česky

Reverse play
Cast:
A man in a white shirt with sleeves rolled up. It is a supporting role, because the actor resembles more a prop. It is to be expected, after all, that in a theatre performance there will appear at least one character in a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves.
Several actors in lead roles. Two thirds of them are women.
A narrator, who tries to be one of the spectators and therefore no-one sits near him.
The audience. I hope it will be a full house.

Movement on stage.

Everything moves in reverse. Each movement is enacted in the opposite direction to that which it would take in reality. The actors – and no one knows whether it is due to their skill or to the deviance of the situation – master the reverse walk without the slightest difficulty. They do not even need to look behind them. They do not collide with each other even once. Even their leg movements do not constitute simply walking backwards – they have completely different rules. It is as if their muscles and tendons were working precisely in reverse. This gives the act on stage its basic form.

Below the stage
Below the stage, the narrator sits in the front row. He is part of the performance and the story that he describes is the story that is playing out on stage. He describes it, however, from beginning to end and not, that is, in reverse. How, indeed, could he describe the story in reverse? The question would immediately arise, after all, as to how in reverse. In reverse as when a recording is played backwards? That is, that even the sounds would be reversed? Or would he narrate the words as they are, but only in reverse order – the first last and the last first? And what would the audience get out of it?

The man sits alone, then, and relates the story. He tells it in order. What is surprising, however, is that the situation cannot be called chaotic. It might appear so at the outset, but a few minutes later, when the audience has shaken off its surprise at the unusual movement of the actors, everything begins to make sense. The audience becomes aware with wonder that the narrated story corresponds exactly to the actions that are conducted in reverse on stage. Every movement of the actors falls into the pace of the story, everything makes sense. But, what sort of play would it actually be if everything were as it should be?

Then the attention in the theatre returns once again to the happenings on stage and the narrator. The audience has realised, that is, that the entire act is repeating itself for the third time. It is slowly becoming possible to memorise the act on stage and to turn it around in the opposite direction, in order for it to sit with the narration. Actually, it would be quite easy, were it not for one small detail. One of the actors always stops at the same point of the act and dumbly indicates something to the audience. It could be explained by the fact that the actor has perhaps forgotten his role. But when it happens for the third time, the audience comes to attention.

Several looks are fixed on the actor’s lips. The third time round, the movements of his lips have not yet indicated anything to them. They all watch the same play impatiently for the fourth time and wait for the actor to stop again. The anticipated point in the act approaches. Once again the actor stops in the same place. It is as if his lips repeat the same word several times in a row.
…, …, …,