Sorting through some papers in the bottom of my wardrobe I came across an idea for a short play that I had written quite a few years ago. I had just taken the grandchildren to a local circus. I thought I would share it with you; well, the guts of it at least. The play is set in a small circus tent involving 4 trapeze artists. They are mic’d up to the sound system in such a way that it feels like we are eavesdropping on a conversation that we don’t usually get to hear. I called the play Parable in the air.
Picture if you will the scene: one person standing on one of the platforms, a ‘catcher’ sitting on one trapeze just gently swinging backwards and forwards, and two people standing on the platform at the opposite end. One of them catching and releasing an empty trapeze – getting the timing right. The other one just standing and waiting. The conversation starts out very humorously. Some banter among all of them about some of the people they can see in the audience. Followed by some more ‘private’ and personal banter between the two standing on the platform about the ‘catcher’ and his assistant, and how much the ‘catcher’ had been drinking just before the show.
Then it’s time for the other performer to take hold of the trapeze and at the right moment abandon the platform by swinging toward the catcher. She hooks her legs over the trapeze and begins to match the arc of the catcher – meeting in the middle, then swinging apart.
The audience is then treated to two very different monologues. The first by the ‘catcher’ with him telling the story about his self-doubts as a performer; feeling to old now, not as fit as he used to be, and weary of being away from home so often to the point of not being sure where ‘home’ is anymore. All the time he is swinging with his legs hooked over the trapeze and his arms, hands and eyes ready to catch the other trapeze artist.
Then the monologue changes as we listen to her airing her doubts about the catcher. Concerns about his state of mind – was he alert enough to catch her at the crucial moment. Then she became a bit more philosophical. Talking about life involves taking calculated risks. That life seemed to be about timing – right place wrong time. Wrong place right time. Wrong place wrong time. Right place right time. Was it all just a matter of luck or was there some ‘vast eternal plan’ that we are all held captive to? If the latter was true then what did freedom of choice really mean?
All the time the two trapeze artists are swinging backwards and forwards. Two great arcs meeting and parting.
We hear the catcher say that it’s time and that he’s ready. We hear the other saying that all she has to do is find the courage to let go and to trust.
Then the lights go out.
A few moments later the lights come back on and all four are bouncing off the safety net.
Hmm. I reckon I could develop that idea a bit.
Shalom and courage