Before the curtain rises


Before the curtain rises

Prague is getting dark, the everyday pulse of the city is slowing down and that is the time when all magic power starts to influence everyone at full blast. It is the time when lights are turning on in many theatres and visitors are getting settled in the auditorium. Just as you have come to the Image theatre and now, having found a comfortable seat, waiting for the start of the performance.


nez se zvedne opona image

There is a little bit of time before the performance and the stage is still covered by curtains, which are hanging without any movement and so unconcernedly. But that apparently common piece of textile is not here by chance. While excitement is growing in the full auditorium, the curtains create a magic space into which you cannot see. It divides two different worlds. The first one where everything is common and usual. The second one, that you cannot see yet, is so different. At this time there is not understandable chaos behind the curtains. Some people dressed in colourful costumes are carrying bizarre items and hiding them in caches. Someone cuts the darkness into coloured slices, another two people are rolling colour strings and cables up, another is coming and carrying nothing, the other one is going somewhere.There is a reason for this chaos and surprisingly even operating instructions. The theatre performance is preparing and getting ready behind this curtain. And this type of preparation is a real mystery, which should be hidden from eyes of the audience. Even deeper in the interior of the theatre there are greenrooms full of tea, coffee and make-up.There is a blond girl in front of the mirror hopelessly fighting her hair with a comb. A dancer in a closefitting leotard is warming up with her leg against the wall almost reaching the ceiling in a graceful curve. Two dancers are looking at "ferman" – a cast schedule   for the next week. The stage operator is checking the trick mechanisms. Comedians are getting dressed in costumes with hidden questions in their eyes – Which audience can we expect tonight? Will they enjoy it, will they laugh? Whether or not the audience will love it. It does not matter if it was successful yesterday and the day before, we have new visitors tonight. At the last minute there is  a desperate search for a white left-hand glove, a mysterious stain is discovered on a green costume with no possibility to remove it. A left-side spotlight is not working, the bulb burst due to pressure. A yellow rope is tangled up hopelessly. As usual, immediately prior to the curtains rising, it looks as if we won’t be able to begin. There is a big adventure behind curtains, which is not known to spectators. The clock is counting down the last minute until the start and the air is thickening with nervous anxiety backstage. It would seem that there is no reason for any fuss, we have performed hundreds of times, thousands of times … and yet. The theatre organism must be heated up to the right operational temperature to be lively and ready to shine. Hence these complications, this necessary fear of uncertainty whether all is in the right place, hence these superstitions and actors’ rituals for luck. And then the left-hand white glove has been found; the yellow rope has been unravelled; the mysterious stain has disappeared finally; the lost bulbs have turned up; spotlights are working well; the discs are in the recorder; actors and dancers are hyped up; the stage is clean and mysterious. Everything is ready for the start. A last arranged nod, the curtain is rising up and the show begins. Lights and music gush out in full extent and the stage is full of pictures, scenes, characters and their stories. The mood of the performance is spreading out to the audience and they take it in and breathe out. Actors are challenged by the audience and so visitors and performers create the unique atmosphere of this evening. It is the theatre and this moment where all of us are connected. All of us enjoying the same thing together. We perform for you and you enjoy it. We are getting to know each other gradually, we understand each other, we laugh at the same things and it influences us. There is no curtain between the audience and the stage. They already have been merged. When the curtain rises, all barriers are gone suddenly. At the start, visitors and actors are unknown to each other. And suddenly all of us share one theatrical world. No matter that we speak different languages, we were born in a different valley, that our historical figures are different, that we eat different meals and drink different drinks. Barriers can be sometimes insurmountable. On the other hand it can be so easy. If you have to get over any obstacle, please do not forget what happened in magic Prague, in the IMAGE theatre. It was enough to simply raise the curtain and people understood each other suddenly.