November 24, 2020


(c) J. Singh, 2018

The artist gets ready for the role he is about to play. With a smile, he dons his mask and the clothes for his part. He waits his turn, and then he steps out onto the stage, in front of the audience, under the lights. He spreads out his arms and he plays his part. The drama is gripping, the story riveting. The music wells up, and the other actors and actresses deliver their best performances. He must also do the best he can. He puts in the effort, he pours all his energy and talent into the role he was assigned to play.

He is a very good actor. He is very convincing, even to himself.

As the play progresses, he becomes more and more comfortable in his role. The shaggy clothes seem to fit better, the mask that once looked so strange and foreign in the mirror, now seems as familiar as his own face.

He loses himself in the plot of the story. He becomes attached to the other characters. He starts reacting with emotion to the actions and words of the other players. He becomes emotionally attached to the outcomes in the great play. He delivers a passionate performance, capturing the audience’s attention. And his own.

He begins to forget that he is playing a part. The line between actor and the character he is playing becomes blurred and indistinct. He is so involved in the story of the play that the character’s dialogue becomes his own. He begins to forget that the mask he is wearing is not him. He looks in the mirror and sees the mask as his own face. He thinks the ill-fitting clothes are indeed his.

He becomes invested in the outcome of the story. When the character he is portraying is hurt by another character, he actually feels the pain and suffers. The wails that he delivers while standing center stage earn applause from the audience. They are genuine and real. He is not acting anymore. He has forgotten where he came from. His art, his craft, has subsumed him. He is no longer the actor playing the part. He has become the character.

Now, worry and anxiety descend upon him. Fear. Hope. Anticipation. Expectation. He begins to react to all slight provocations, whether real or imagined. The other actors and actresses are similarly engrossed in the play. The audience is spellbound by the performances. This is the highest rated play in the entire Universe. It is the wonderful drama!

Now it is Act IV. He begins to get weary. Filled with constant fear and angst, he casts about. The play will be ending soon, but he doesn’t know when. He is nervous, anxious, and worried. What will happen to his possessions, these material artifacts that he worked so hard for? Or his family, his children, his parents? What about his spouse, how will be bear to be apart from her? The actor and actress spend many minutes locked in an embrace, neither wanting to leave the other. The audience cheers.

And then there is the conflict. His fights with others. The hostility, the rage. Anger. His insistence that he is right, and that they are wrong. He is so filled with fire and passion, these emotions are threatening to drown him. He becomes depressed about his condition. He seeks solace in drugs and alcohol to numb his emotions. He is playing his part oh so well.

He doesn’t want to lose what he has worked so hard to build. His home, his business, his wealth, his legacy. He has spent his lifetime working hard. But he has only been on the stage for two hours. He doesn’t realize that. He has forgotten. The passage of time is relative.

He doesn’t know that he has a mask on. He doesn’t know that he is playing a role.

And then, finally, the play comes to an end. All the actors have completed their
performance. The music plays, and they take a bow as the audience applauds. The actor takes off his mask, and steps off the stage. None of it was real. It was all an illusion. He played his part, and now it’s over. He leaves the stage as he arrived, with nothing. The mask is off, and he finally realizes that he is not the character he was playing. He fulfilled his role, and the play is finished. Exit, stage left.

Final Curtain.