Theatre in Wales

Commentary and extended critical writing on theatre, dance and performance in Wales

In Development

As It Might Be Today

A Development Scene For five voices.

Narrator: In the the course of a Spring clean-out this year, in a dusty corner of the Vatican archives, a document has come to light that sheds a fascinating new light on the way in which a work of the Renaissance may have come about.

The year is 1508. The scene is the Apostolic Palace in Rome. Three men are in tight conclave.

Enter the Artist. He is upright, proud, certain in his vocation. He is unnoticed.

Mike: Hello.

Dom: And you areÖwho?

Mike: Michael.

Dom: Remind me.

Mike: Michael. The artist. Michael Angelo.

Narrator: Yes, it is he.

Dom: Jules. Itís Mike. Remember?

Jules: Dom, for Christís sake. Weíve got a nine p.m. deadline for this Encyclical.

Dom: Jules. Itís the- you know- artist-

(Gulps)

-weíve talked about. Getting him to do the ceiling.

Jules: Oh, right. Mike. Yes.

Mike: Your Eminence.

Jules: Donít worry about all that Pope Julius the Second. Itís Jules.

Mike: Right. Jules.

Jules: And this is Cardinal Alfrezi.

Ben: Benedict. Ben. Great to see you.

Jules: And Cardinal Corleone.

Dom: Dominic. Call me Don. So, welcome to Rome.

Ben: We heard youíd done some good stuff in the regions.

Mike: Seen it?

Dom: Didnít quite get there. But we heard good things.

Mike: The critics said the Medici statues were a majestic expression of the new spirit sweeping Italy.

Ben: That was Lynolo, right?

Mike: Gave it a name. Called it the Ree-Naice-Arnce.

Jules: Iím sorry we didnít get there. To be frank, Lorenzo and us-.

Ben: Medici.

Dom: We donít always see eye to eye.

Ben: And Florence. Itís still a little bitÖ

Dom: Regional. This is Rome. This is, letís say it, the capital. The regions and the capital. Itís a different ball park youíre in now, Mike.

Mike: Did you read what the critics said?

Jules: Didnít you put the file together, Ben?

Dom: Yep.

Jules: Bring me up to date.

(Sound effect: flicking of parchment)

Dom: Mikeís right. Lynolo loves him.

Jules: Great critic.

Ben: Canít fault Lynolo for enthusiasm.

Jules: Lynolo does go over the top a bit. Anything thatís new.

Mike: Billini liked it.

Ben: Iíve got them all. Carolus Spencerius, so-so. Michele Billini ďstructurally uneven but this first public commission shows evidence of an underlying talent that shows great promise.Ē

Mike: Have you got Johannes Petrus?

Ben: Weíve done our homework, Mike. Right, Johannes Petrus. ďMichelangelo burns with a diamond-focused intensityÖmarble-like hardness to his work.Ē

Jules: It was marble, wasnít it? Dom, Ben, should we get on with the meeting?

Mike: Youíve got the sketches?

Jules: Mike.

Mike: Michael.

Jules: Michael. Iíll explain how we work here. The way we do it itís kind of collaboration.

Mike: But youíre the sole source of all temporal and spiritual authority.

Jules: Thatís for the PR. Weíre a team. Dom does the marketing side. The branding. Benís handles all the other stuff. Access, participation.

Ben: Weíre hoping for project funding for this one.

Mike: Project funding? Youíre the Holy Catholic Church. Every peasant and artisan has to pay a tithe. Thatís ten percent. Youíve got pardons, indulgences to sell.

Jules: Mike, I wonít begin to tell you the overhead we have. Papal splendour, it doesnít come cheap, you know. You wouldnít believe it. Domís had a look at the sketches. Heís got something to bring to the table. Over to you, Dom.

Dom: Mike, the vision is great. Fab. But...the figure on the right. This big one.

Mike: Thatís God. Yes.

Dom: At the moment heís coming over as quite, whatís the word, itís quite a patriarchal kind of thing.

Mike: Heís the creator of heaven and earth, and all the creatures who do walk upon them.

Dom: Right.

Mike: Itís a symbol.

Dom: Itís a symbol. Yep. So we were wondering, letís throw it around, we were thinking that the Godhead could be rendered in a kind of less authoritarian way. Had you thought of maybe making him a cloud?

Mike: A cloud?

Dom: It fits our outreach strategy better. Benís been thinking quite a lot about this.

Jules: Letís hear.

Ben: This outstretched finger.

Mike: Itís the spark of divinity crossing from God to Man.

Ben: I love it. Itís so strong. Thatís it. Maybe itís too strong.

Mike: Too strong?

Ben: We were thinking. Maybe we should make it an outstretched hand. Like itís saying friendship.

Mike: Friendship.

Ben: Sort of connecting.

Mike: He is divine power. Majestic and all-encompassing.

Ben: This whole power thing itís not really where weíre going as of now.

Mike: You want a cloud?

Ben: And then the positioning of this figure...

Mike: Adam.

Ben: How about we move him up a bit? So he and God are like looking at each other. Weíre saying to our audience. God and man, weíre all equal here.

Jules: Dom, youíve been looking at the whole Adam thing, havenít you?

Dom: Right. Heís really great. Heís so powerful. Iím just a teeny bit worried. People might say. Whereís Eve? I mean we have to got Eve into the picture.

Jules: If you were to merge Adam and Eve into one. To symbolise the merging of the genders.

Dom: That would be so good.

Ben: Mike, you okay? Youíre looking a bit hot. Is it the Rome heat?

Mike: I---am----fine. Anything else?

Dom: Iíve got this access agenda to think about. This whole ceiling idea. Itís going to mean heads bent back. Necks cricked.

Jules: Have we got the insurance cover?

Ben: No probs. Weíre covered for everything. We couldnít get coverage for Acts of God, funnily enough.

Dom: Itís not good for those who are short-sighted.

Jules: Good point. Remember glasses have only just come on the market.

Mike: I heard you people werenít too keen on them. If too many get to read they might go off-message.

Jules: I didnít hear that, Mike.

Ben: So we had been thinkingÖ

Narrator: At this point the manuscript ends. It gives every appearance of having for some reason been torn violently in half. We are here now in 2011, in the Vatican. A guide is here with a group of visitors.

Guide: Here, ladies and gentlemen, we have it, the Sistine Wall. This fresco is of the amorphous cloud reaching out the hand of friendship to the sexless being. The verdict of the art critics is that it is of a remarkable blandness, but a few can detect a freedom of spirit in the detail of the paintwork.

Very little is known of the artist as he threw himself into the Tiber shortly afterwards in a fit of apparent existential despair. Now weíll just move on Raphaelís mother symbol cradling the generic childÖ

author:Adam Somerset

original source:
01 April 2010

 

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