The Poet Laureate of The Skylight Writings

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time that I introduced you to John Gerlach.

John is, as of late, one of those long suffering crusaders we call a public school educator. You will also see from the following is a poet. He is a whole lot more of a poet than I will ever be for sure (no surprise there for any of you who read my ramblings from time to time).

John has nothing to do with the Skylight, and is not a member of the arts community. I mean he's an artist, but not one of us show tune singing ones. I offer his well constructed words, because they are wise and soulful. We need a little soul right now.

June 19, 2009

Play On, Players, But Where, and for Whom?
By John Gerlach


The late actions of the Board of Directors for the Skylight Opera Theatre have caused great consternation among artists across the nation. One is reminded of the public outrage which has resulted from the unethical machinations of the financial community which have caused the economic disaster threatening the real welfare of so many around the globe. We feel as if we have been cuckolded like the kindly gentleman who diligently works in faith for the sake of family, church, and country, while the matron of the household entertains a lover behind the scenes. Upon discovery of this duplicity, we demand to know how, why, where, and with whom our bedfellows have been in league. Of course, it matters not whether we catch the errant bride early or late; the crime against trust is already leveled.

The public letter from the President of the Board of Directors for the Skylight Opera Theatre reads like a mournful letter from a long-suffering wife who is compelled to coldly notify her devoted spouse that she has moved on; that he should have seen this coming, if he hadn’t been so preoccupied with work; that he should be hopeful that a new beginning might be made for both of them, and glad that an impending misery has been avoided because she has taken pains to salvage what is left of a failed marriage before all would surely have been lost to the lawyers. And, that we should still be friends all the same, for the sake of the kids.

We must defend against the urge to ask, “What has been going on while we’ve been away?” For, one does not wish to know how one’s affairs, nor one’s sausages are made. Rest assured only in this: that, the active artistic community has persisted in league with a governing structure whose ambition is for the survival of the whole at the expense of its parts.

In America, we invest our life-savings on Wall Street, which is known to all as a den of thieves, yet we wail when our money is stolen. It is the story of the naïve Pinocchio over again. In other words, we are content to labor beneath the oversight of the Ivory Tower, at least so long as we are provided with resources and artistic autonomy. What’s more, our beautiful wife will enjoy the adventure of social climbing mixed with illicit liaisons only until her dowry begins to get consumed in the perennial vicissitudes of economic ebb and flow, when her fears of discovery are trumped by her fear of poverty!

We are players in need of boards; they are a bored platform in need of adventure. Or, see it another way: The players are the illicit lover who believes that the lonely wife will someday leave her husband for a life of adventure with us and our traveling troupe. But, now the wife has called off the affair, to return to the stability of staunch and respectable marriage. See how she resents that we threaten to expose her tryst with our vagabond lifestyle. Only, she knows full-well that, cry as we might, our shouts cannot reach to the heights of the lofty tower; anyway, her worldly husband shall just smile at her playful, but temporary infidelity, and watch her return savilly to the world of polite society.

Players, you trifle in the world of the cultivated man, and he’s seen you coming long before you arrived to tempt his daughters with your adventuresome ways. There once was a day when actors were denied Christian burial because of their dalliance with the devil, alike with witches and suicides. You play at a game run over your heads, in the thin atmosphere of the upper strata of society, where money floats like cream to the top.

Players, your calling of late has been to prop up a decaying theatrical form, one which defines the decaying society of the European mode of existence. You are pawns in a larger drama - one which exposes, to all who have eyes to see, and ears to hear, the ambitious King, the treacherous Queen, and the guilt-ridden Prince. Then, you take your coin and go, and quickly, too, at that. One must act out the truth with one foot in the stirrup.

Players, know that your rightful place is on the path trodden by the masses, which might lead you to the castle gate, but it is the road that is your home, and not the destination. For, wherefrom derive you the material for your performance? It is from the wretches met along your travels. The Boards of Directors whom you serve value you as you portray the life that they dare not encounter - indeed, which they are not permitted to experience, as the rabble will shut down its foolishness and scuttle its shipwrecks upon the approach of the genteel.

There reside today in every fair city a half-million souls who speak in rhyme, who dramatize murder and mayhem in our school halls and our street corners. It is they who deserve your experience at dramatic representation; it is they who need a more perfect technique for expressing the anguish and horror of life lived daily. It is among these millions that you belong, along the paths they have worn. Rally your cry not against the princess who flirts with demons, only to recoil to her boudoir at the first tonguing lick of flame. Commit yourselves rather to your time-decreed heritage among the masses of sorrow and love who flail in response to life because they have no sure means of stating their misery and joy beyond the native impulse of barely human tears. Offer to the people the language of drama, and so make us ever-more human because we have speech perfected in its skill to convey the suffering unto truth which is the watermark of tragedy. Here is your place, though there is no recompense to be speculated at. Return to the true populace, though they cannot pay upfront, for it is with them that the sterling rewards of drama are forever to be found.