Editorial: Act One

- by Michael Matheson -


The house lights dim and the curtain draws back. The stage is set, its hard wood panels bare, footlights lit upon its edge. A spotlight flares, illuminating a mic stand centre stage. Seven figures stand in silhouette, waiting.

This, then, is your introduction to Anathema: each production composed of a different troupe. And as advertised: a single night’s engagement only, when the moon is full and silvered. 

And you, friend, are in luck, the theatre having unfurled itself before you, in alleys you’ve not trespassed before, your seat front row centre as if the show were for you and you alone. Before the house darkened, amid pre-show audience murmur, the program outlined for you what’s to come: Pear Nuallak’s cover, Olokun’s Children, to set the stage, then on to S. Qiouyi Lu’s A Complex Filament of Light, Tony Pi’s Swan’s Grace, Ayodele Olofintuade’s The Woman With a Thousand Stars in Her Hair, Brent Lambert’s Blood Song, Stephanie Chan’s Aqua Mirabilis, and finally Alexis Teyie’s essay: Being Otherwise: Between Starshine and Clay.

Now, you close the program, and at unseen cue the audience falls silent.

One by one the performers take their turn and raise their voices, no two alike. There’s magic in it: light and music and fluttering wings and crashing waves and the petrichor of indoor tempests slung against the theatre’s vaulted ceiling. Their sequential chorus runs glorious riot, each setting a fire in your breast.

You do not leave a performance such as this unscathed; you will always bear its mark.

Then, as swiftly as it came, the theatre disappears and you are left gasping for breath in the dark, knowing you have seen something extraordinary, unsure where to go from here.

This is our beginning. There will be other performances, and you are always welcome, invitation extended without condition. Keep a careful eye for a theatre in places you least expect, and listen for the rustle of a playbill fluttering in cold wind.

Pass the word to others who seek as you do: speak of us in whisper and in roar. And though we are not adverse to remuneration for the wonders you have seen, the theatre does not demand it. We are here for those who would find us, however they may come.

We expect to see you again soon.


© 2017 by Michael Matheson