Chapter 1 – Curtains Up

My name is Renette, after Madame de Pompadore, famed mistress to the King of France. I went to Lycee Montgrande, a small drama-school by the coast. I work at a theatre, Le petit illusion. It was opened by my grandfather after the Second World War and left to mother in his will. An only child, I had no brothers or sisters but mother tried; and my imaginary friend, poor Wiggle was supportive. Mother was a critically acclaimed cunt and successful stage manager at the theater. Creating depth is the floor plan, the design that is: how large to make the stage, how deep the horseshoe box, how large the auditorium?

We use drop and wing sets like the ladies of Sabo; some backgrounds are lowered down and some recycled and shifted as the stage is rotated, some pulled into focus across a sliding background. I painted some of them. It’s a salon of machines; sets may be changed and rotated as the story demands. There is great effort in hiding the frame around the performance, the frame of the illusion – a chariot and pole system, pulleys and strong ropes. When a set dried we covered it in rabbit-skin glue and mounted them, pushed them into frame, rotated the stage and brought the mockingbirds into focus.

salon of machines cabaret is a perfect setup. It’s not much different than older theatres, of the royal courts at the turn of the 17th century; they featured plays, opera and cabaret. Patrons paid for shows, writers paid to entertain, a hundred sous – the production is staged. My mother’s never failing, personal troupe, always masked, in some costume or another.

The structural plans were borrowed, plagiarized poorly from the Italian Commedia dell Arte, a poor man’s Petit Trianon or Hotel de Bourgogne, home to the mad Duchess of Burgundy. The shows are staged in-doors and lit by by real gas-lamps, burning away as they had in the Hague; we have galleries and chandeliers for day-time viewers, a prominent proscenium arch and vanishing point. It’d fit 600 at capacity.

The gallery was built in a horseshoe shape to prevent sharp angles, making it more organic; more Bernini less Art Deco. The arch framed the scene and set the vanishing point. It is the illusion of depth, the framing of illusion. The behind-the-scenes workers and I made most of that scenery, that window-dressing, all real but not too interesting. Not as things are: we wait for roles. Theatre, my father said, exists because Mother Nature is a bad writer. God is, that is to say, a hack. I disagree. Chimps beat men into space. Bees lose their minds without a queen.

Go to next chapter ->


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Brandon K. Nobles

Brandon is an author, poet and head writer for Sir Swag on YouTube. With 630k subscribers. Since February 2021 he has written for the most important and popular series, News Without the Bulls%!t and the least popular work on the channel, History Abridged. Brandon joined the channel in late January, since then his work has been featured every month in News and History. His novels and works of fiction have also been well received, and he continues to be a proficient and professional chess player. In his spare time he like to catch up on work.

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