It seems like a stage has been set in our conversation, in much the same way as Berthold Brecht set the stage in the opera you mention. I’m reminded of the master of all stage setting, Charles Chaplin, particularly when writing and directing The Gold Rush: seldom was there a more delicate balance between humor and pathos.
Yesterday I was talking to children of Holocaust survivors. They, being older than myself and in their late 60s now, are considered what Eva Hoffman calls “second generation witnesses”: as children they received the emotional consequences of the extreme experiences of their parents. It wasn’t a processed, orderly passing on of experiences; it were signs and eruptions of raw, splintered suffering that were to be ever present inside the privacy of the family nucleus.
In a way, one could say that children are the direct unfiltered recipients of their parents’ trauma, their first imaginings from their parents’ experiences holding a complex burden of information and emotion. Like a helpless, automatic identification with parental feelings and their burdens. The difficulty that the second generation had inherited was not the experience itself, but all of its shadows. The haunting paradox of indirect knowledge.
A stage has been set I think. For now it is empty as if wiped away by a nuclear blast, yet fraught with expectations and filled with memories of things past. Expectations that lie in the eye of the viewers, the audience present, who look unapologetically at what is about to begin happening, their eyes and ears clouded by the weight they carry of their own lives.
The creator creates a work of art as a true chrysalis, putting meaning inside and hoping for the audience to nurture and think and set free the dragonfly, the moth, the butterfly; or the all devouring, gorging locust.