Monday, April 29, 2013

In Which a Stranger Surprises My Acting Class With Inane Babble

Gentle readers: those who know me have perhaps heard about my many encounters with the cosmologically deluded ad nauseum. It will come as little surprise to hear a long-winded story from me on a new radical and rude attempt by yet another Trinity Troglodyte to pervade an otherwise lovely day with celestial chit-chat. However, my friends, in all my years of studying and writing about the supernatural and those who exemplify it, I have not come across an episode as ludicrous and eerily entertaining (despite the fact that the debacle put my teeth on edge) as that which occurred this morning.

(To those who are curious, I am equally passionate about my studies in theatre as I am about my work in atheism. Theatre is a primary instigator for social change. If you want to learn about the human condition, theatrical literature is key.)

To set the scene: class is preparing. Acting IV, under the supervision of Dr. Randy Bolton, is a usually grim affair. Our enthusiasm toward the material and our coordinated execution of it this semester has been, to use our darling professor's encouraging statement: "...a fucking shame". After weeks of this, and with our new introduction to the works of Chekhov, it's rare that our energy has even been affable, let alone enjoyable. Only the fact that our group is made of a decently tight-knit, steadfast throng of friends has pushed us through an arduous work-load. In summation: a Monday morning can be a dreary event as we traipse into our work space. Today specifically, several actors were prepping the playing space for their scene while the rest of us readied ourselves to take notes. Dr. Bolton had saddled himself, rather like a grumpier version of Falstaff, in center with an air of impatience. Then, the unthinkable occurred. 

Enter, a young man whose general flamboyance and reliance on the use of fringe with his vest marks him as an obvious homosexual, complete with pointed boots and a sibilant 's'. The boots in particular are important, because their general clopping on the tile floor of the space, empowered with the impeccable acoustics of what once might have been an empty swimming pool, reverberated in such a way that all of our attention was immediately drawn to the stranger in our midst. Such an entrance would have done Gypsy Rose Lee proud. The attitude set by his focused eyes and determined face might have suited him for an episode of a Ru Paul reality show, were it not for the copy of the Bible under his arm (I simply cannot recall to memory another book that uses purple, iridescent gilding on the edge of the pages, so perhaps I was wrong . . . but it's not likely). He strides with all the parade of Cleopatra to the center of the space, while both the students who were watching and the actors who were literally seconds away from beginning a complex scene ogled him, slack-jawed. 

Now, comrades, I have long called the clamor of anyone on a religious soapbox mere claptrap, but I tell you without exaggeration -- whatever this man was saying was frankly unintelligible. Holding his index finger toward the sky, he began (to the best of my memory): 

"There is one [G]od! . . . My parents were biblical literalists . . . And what is so logical? . . . That there is one . . . and heaven knows it, and you! . . . " etc, etc, ad infinitum. 

The sheer audacity of it was astounding. All of us seemed to be pulled in two opposing, all-encompassing directions of thought: was he joking or was he serious? He couldn't be serious, could he? Did some random student in all actuality barge into the beginning of a university lecture and dribble us with his religious salivation? It had to have been a joke. It must have been. But as the seconds elapsed, we suddenly realized that if it was a joke, it was one poorly executed and with ever poorer taste -- and as the time stretched into a minute, we were met with the simultaneously infuriating and hilarious epiphany that this was exactly what it looked like. 

I would hazard a guess that the two shortest tempers in the room at the time belonged to Dr. Bolton and myself (and I am sure my classmates wouldn't have much argument to this), but even he, the Strindbergian bulldog himself, with all the pomp of a Ph.D., seemed so perplexed by the ego of this young man that all he could do was wave (nearly politely!) and say: "Goodbye." We, who had expected tempests from Randy, who would bellow instantaneously at a dropped line, were grimly disappointed by the near insouciance of our corpulent professor. I, myself, could feel my patience wearing thin at being captive to this nonsense, but whatever I might have said or done was made infinitely useless by the unexpected grace of Dr. Bolton. The boy, clopping as though he were a cast member of The Devil Wears Prada, exited, while laughter and confusion exploded behind him. 

One of our compatriots made the unintentional comment: "Ah, come back!" completely in levity. This, apparently, was all the young acolyte needed and immediately turned on his heel and returned to us, once again picking up his speech! Suddenly, he runs to the piano, bangs a few notes, and yells: "How is that for drama?! God is drama!" Disappointingly, another wave from Dr. Bolton, coupled with a perhaps-more-irritated: "Enough." was all he received. With another swish, the paradoxically Phelpsian disciple left. 

Not thirty seconds had passed, seconds during which we were all still in confused shock, when a knocking sounded. 

Without waiting for a response, I leaped for the door, a string of expletives barreling into my mouth. The others in the class found the distraction hysterical, and I must admit that the absurdity of the situation had a bit of dark comedy, but the reality was becoming more clear to me as the shock faded. The ego was indescribable! What gave him the right to . . . oh, nevermind: god had, of course. Isn't that always the case? In courtyards and in classrooms, can we never be rid of people who think that they have the right to do and say anything because the almighty writes them a pass? The subjectivity, the audacity, the petulance . . . ah, those who care about the details of that particular rant can always read my book. For the subject of this story-telling, gentle reader, I am sure you get the point. 

Opening the door, there stood before me our friendly neighborhood boor, whose smiling face instantly vanished when he saw the look on mine. "Can I . . . ?" was all he was able to say before I violently whispered at him: "Go the fuck away." and slammed the door in his face. Dr. Bolton's impatience to begin scene work was palpable, or else I might have been more verbose. Namely, what did that weighty book he was touting say about his particular sexual orientation, or could that have been why he looked so damn familiar to me? I wouldn't make the accusation without being sure, my friends, but I am unconvinced that he wasn't a lusty conquest of mine at one time in the last year. If only my memory for such things wasn't so abominable -- but I am sure the good lord has marked it down thoroughly and we'll all three discuss it later over cucumber sandwiches... 

We've seen them on street corners, in campus squares, knocking at our doorsteps and now clopping, uninvited, into our classrooms. Once the laughter dies away, it is clear that the argument, the one I have been making louder and louder for the last couple of years, is ever more important. It should not stop being discussed until we either recognize the authority by which these charlatans claim access to our eyes and ears, or strip them of it forever. 

No comments:

Post a Comment