National Theatre’s Unseen Plays
It was 7am when people began queuing in front of the National Theatre. The River Thames was quiet. Young and old joggers were out, jogging up and down in the Southbank. And it was not so cold for British weather.
Everybody in the queue was secretly studying one another, labeling, judging, trying to read minds of each other but none dared talk. What kept them as quiet as Thames, I wondered.
The prison no one was able to see became clear to me through suffocation and pain. I felt the thick tall wall between me and everyone around me. I looked at the guy standing in front of me soullessly, and at the lady in dark red top behind me. She looked at me through the thick iron bars in her eyes. I wanted to shake her and shout to take her out of that little dark cell. But she was not able to see me and she would be scared of me if I did that. I heard the conversation in the mind of the guy in front me.
“Hmmm,” he hummed.
“I wonder where she is from,” he asked, I heard.
“She must be from one of those Eastern European countries,” he answered.
“Just another cheap immigrant,” replied his proud British part. His conscience was well trained not to interfere his judgement. So he did not hear it.
“She is pretty though, I wonder how she is in bed,” asked his horniest part. He looked down on me in a manly manner once more, scared to reveal his real thoughts, but I heard it all. So I walked away.
“Could you please keep this space for me?” I asked the girl in the little dark cell, before freeing myself from the prison. Why did I ever want to see a drama while feeling the greatest tragedy of human history, I could not ask.
“Sure,” said she through the thick bars.
“Thanks,” I replied and walked towards the café opposite to the theatre.
It was not yet open but it has got big high stairs. I spread an old newspaper page on the third step of stone stairs and sat. A little old woman with a big hunchback walked passed. I watched her and read the preface of her life. She walked up to the theatre, stood by the big door. She pushed it, it pushed her back. She realized that the theatre of the British Nation was not yet open.
“It is amazing what people do when they love,” was the thought I attached her with admiration.
She queued up. I began to watch Shakespeare’s Macbeth on my mobile to make the situation worse under the grey British sky while waiting to get a ticket for Ibsen’s play.None of the Shakespeare’s characters seemed to be as interesting as the little woman with big hunchback however. I was dying to know what caused her hunchback, what was that worthy to strive and disable herself.I looked at her once more, she was in blue in that disconnected, well walled queue.
I knew she was unusual; she could not stand in one meter square cell either. And she finally caught the waves of my curiosity. She began walking towards me.I smiled back at her when she smiled. I knew she was no longer able to carry her beans and she was coming to spill them in the garden of the National Theatre to free herself a little bit.
Could one’s soul ever be at peace while one’s body is in pain, I wondered, looking at her little steps. I could not wait to hear her citing the first chapter of her life.
“Good morning,” said she with her shaky voice.
“Good morning,” I replied and I stood up to share the old newspaper with her.
“Thanks, that is very kind,” said she when she sat with a soft smile on her face.
“It is not open yet, the theatre,” I said, to start the conversation.
“Yes, that is okay, good thing is that we will get a ticket for 12 pounds instead of 30,” said she and looked at me with curiosity.
“Last time I got a front row ticket for Hamlet,” she added. Was she one of those English people who replaced their religion with theatre? What was she searching for in three act dramas, I wondered.
“Oh really, that is great!” I said, sharing her love of theatre.
“Yes, my son is now in Piccadilly, getting a ticket for “Phantom of the Opera for Friday”,” she said to get some more admiration from a young soul mine.
“Oh my God, that is incredible! I want to see that, too.” I replied just to make her happy.
“Do you not live in London?” asked she.
“Yes, I do,” I replied, still patiently.
“So you can see it, it has been on forever,” she replied.
“Yes, that’s true,” I replied.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” asked she, deep longing to be young again in her small blue eyes.
“Hmmm,” I replied and smiled. That’s when I knew she was going to tell me about the man whose love had caused and grown her hunchback.
“No,” I replied, without knowing how heavily I was conditioned like all the other young women in Britain to feel less than I was for not having a man in my life. Misery of shame dripped in my soul while waiting for her reply. I was not even aware how I was readying myself to be judged.
“Oh,no! You are so pretty! What is wrong?” she asked, putting her hand on my shoulder with compassion.
“Nothing…nothing is wrong…I just don’t want any kind of domination in my life!” replied I.
“Yes, but don’t you feel dominated when you cannot go out on your own at night…seen as a weird or outcast when you do…don’t other men attack you? I mean you must be tired…well I was,” said the little woman with a big hunchback.
“Yes, that is true but if that is the price I have to pay to be who I am not a woman society want me to be , then I have to pay it with honor!” I responded. She looked deep into my eyes with admiration and then she looked down. She looked at the River Thames when she was back to the present time. Pain of regret appeared on her face.
“You are right but don’t you like sex?” she asked, trying to feel better.
“No that is the worst kind of domination made in the name of love!” replied I.
“But it is a biological need, isn’t it?” she asked.
“My soul is big enough to control my biological needs, it wants to live on its own terms,” I responded.
“Well, young lady, I wish I was that brave when I was young,” said she before beginning her confession. I looked at her with compassion, this time. Finally I was going to hear the first chapter her life or was she going to begin from the last one.
“I came here from America…I was studying drama…and I was good,” said she and looked at me briefly.
“Oh really? That must be the reason why you love theatre, and then what happened?” I asked.
“What happened was…” said she and sighed, staring at the River Thames.
“I met my husband…he was a very charismatic young professor…I mean he was of course ten years older than me…every girl in class was chasing him but I was madly in love with him…and yes, he fell in love me, too. And we got married,” said she with a soft smile, so much love in her eyes.
“That’s such a romantic love story,” I replied with admiration while wondering the price of that love.
“Yes, it was,” she replied, a great resentment in her voice. I did not dare ask more questions to exacerbate her pain. We had a few moments of silence where she tried to mute her loud emotions. I heard them all, her inner war.
“I was soon pregnant and I left the college, acting, glory and passion of art all together…I became a house wife and mum instead,” she continued. Observing her unbearable regret on her face began hurting me.
“Shall we walk by the Thames?” I asked, just to help her feel better.
“It is okay, I am good here,” she replied and looked at the queue that was now longer. National Theatre was not yet open but so many unwritten plays were on outside its gigantic stages.
“Okay,” I replied and checked the time. “We have ten more minutes,” I reminded her.
“Yes,” said she and looked back at me. “Do you know I have a trial, tomorrow?” she asked. I did not know how to respond.
“You mean at the court?” I asked.
“Yes, and do you know what for?” asked she.
“No,” I replied, feeling riddled and surprised.
“To claim price of the love for which I had labored for years,” she replied.
“What…I mean what love…you mean the love you had for him?” I asked, still confused.
“Yes, he had left me ten years ago for a younger woman…I gave him three kids…the reason why he was a successful professor was because of my love and support…how silly, how blinded, how idiot I was!” she blamed herself, painfully.
“So are you going to divorce tomorrow?” I asked.
“We are divorced…he is trying to get my house from me…because apparently he had been fired and hungry for a penny,” she replied.
“Oh no! How about your sons, do they not support you?” I asked.
“No, they don’t dare interfere, it is their father…I am all on my own,” she replied.
“We all are!” I replied.
“Yes, we all are…and sadly love is lie we tell ourselves to forget that we are,” she said. I patted on her back and pointed the National Theatre’s door which was now open.
“It is okay, let’s go get ticket! I am sure judge won’t be as cruel as life!” I said and we stood up. She took newspaper she had sat on, squeezed it. I tore my mine. We put them in the bin.
“I hope so,” she said quietly and we walked towards the queue. Was Ibsen going to help us understand our pain?
Whether he was going to be able to or not I still loved the National Theatre and all its unseen plays in the garden.