Sunday, May 24, 2009


The origin of the phrase "Curtains", in the context of death and dying.

Of course, you are familiar with the concept of a curtain-call. The bow the entire cast takes at the end of a show. Each thesbian is damp with sweat and bright with the accomplishment of performing; Performing something to the best of their abvility, heart racing, eyes wide and gaping at the bright, back-lit applauding crowd before them.

They clasp hands and raise them up, swinging them down in a flourish, their bodies bowing in unison as a white, rushing roar fills their ears and a sweet, almost sickly sweet euphoria bubbles up in their throats. They will glance at each other, smiling and laughing and then extending a hand towards heaven or hell - the sound booth, the pit. And then, with a final triumphant stare out into the sea of unfamiliar and yet amazingly appreciative faces - they all turn and dart back behind the scenes, like specters, as if they never really were there to begin with. And then, the curtains close behind them, and the show is over.

Well this phrase comes from something a little less exciting.

Imagine a one man show. Imagine the nerves, seared throughout the performance, voice raw with emotion. Nothing and no one to feed off of out there amid the burning lights. Imagine the panic of no response - your own ears muting out the sound of 'oohs' or 'ahhs' from the audience simply from the rushing of your blood. Imagine the fear crawling in your gut when the last lines fall from your lips.

Imagine the poignant silence, the pause, the dead, weighty emptiness when the last word tumbles out and you are cast alone in the dark before the end. The lights are out and it is suddenly colder there, alone on the stage. No faces visible past the proscenium, no coughs, no cheering, just silence. Imagine the fear then. Imagine the fear as you step forward alone.

There are no hands to hold. They are empty at your sides as the light explodes above you, showering you in the heat, blinding you to the audience. Empty, sweating hands extended, you take your shaky bow. You might smile. Or be somber. Or proud, or cocky or even relieved. HOw will you feel?

No one will knwo if the audience will applaud or not. No one can tell you when the light is going to come back on to queue you on for your final bow. And when all that chaos subsides, and you can actually HEAR the response before you, and you react accordingly in your final, stage-bound moments... when you turn to leave...

Thats 'curtains.'

No comments:

Post a Comment