Archive for October, 2010
Wonder if Luigi Pirandello knew that one day his title of the famous play Six Characters in Search of an Author would be put to this use. I saw them once on the square in the inner city Nurnberg in front of Saint Lorenz church: a couple, in dark brown paint, looking like miners, standing absolutely still, bent over each other. They were statues, like the figures on the Peter Henlein and the Ehekarusell Fountains, but their eyes moved. When I came back from the visit to the Castle, after a couple of hours, they were still there, in a slightly different position. Muscles ache. A few coins in the small, battered box in front of them. A small girl in blue skirt next to them, her mother taking a picture. A T-mobile advertisement behind them.
I saw them again in Barcelona on Las Ramblas. Many such: Jack Sparrow, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Marilyn Monroe in the famous balloon skirt costume, Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, Cat Woman … Ramblas almost never sleeps. The characters take turns, their places marked on the boulevard. They are human. I saw them getting ready for the freeze show. Their girlfriends, boyfriends, partners helping them dress up. Get their act together.
Then they take position. Like soldiers, staying still, only smiling when someone wants to click a picture, not saying anything, not even breaks for nature’s call. No urgent messages, no mobile phones, prisoners of an anonymous audience, in chains which can’t be seen, without the script that has birthed them and then left them mid scene, to walk into our lives, our understanding of Barcelona, Nurnberg. A friend tells me they stand like that in Hollywood too. It is not related to recession alone, it is a much longer profession.
It is not unusual for a character to burst out of a script. Sometimes one falls out of the pages we are reading lying on the bed and gives us company through a night, many nights. Another leaps out of the pages and goes to our door, beckoning us to follow. We take one out of the movie hall to give us company on a lonely evening, or to laugh at our jokes when the world seems to not understand us any longer. Characters are live beings, they live in the texts and in our hearts, but to see them in physical form like this: silent and immobile, on the roadside, waiting for a few coins in their bowls and the hours of the clock to chime. Makes me wonder if I care enough for those I create or know or, once created, do they find a life of their own and even make their independent choice to wait, to wait patiently. I know what happens to them in a text or script, but I do not know what happens to them in real life.