the robe of the charlatan

Uncategorized August 6, 2016

I keep coming back to this figure of the curtain. Probably because it is that one long, endless surface or sheet that always divides the beholder from the thing beheld, because it is a tissue that belongs to both the inside and outside that it backs, and because it refuses my penetration. The seduction of the veil. So this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me…I’ll keep writing out its threads.

For any parting of the curtain falls for a feint. In the theatre, the curtain often becomes the basis for a mistaken revelation and for the disguise of the charlatan. Think of Hamlet’s murder of Polonius, mistaking him for Claudius hiding behind the arras or curtain. Or, in a reference which I explored in an earlier performance piece, the revelation of the Wizard behind his curtain as nothing more than a stage technician (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain…). This has obvious significance for the theatre as an institution which plays with the curtain as a device of revelation and concealment, a device for the appearance of an event that is always doubled and always (arguably) artifice.

The curtain is the robe of the charlatan. I needn’t say what this makes me.