Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
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Philip Salom

The Theatre Studies Lecturer's Big Chance

1

Onstage I was the lunatic Marat immobile in the bath.
My skin disease was made-up every night with student intensity
and moved more than I did sitting in my non-existent water.

My job wasn't acting, if acting as a lunatic who can't act
acting as a mad philosopher renegade revolutionary
skin sloughing from his body in that bath

while acting out his ranting in place of rational thought
could be called acting. I had the loudest voice.
My job was to hit the back row from a seated position.

When I projected you saw through my acting like the doctor
saw only the back of my throat, saying Arhh  Arhh
Mararhh… inflamed as Marat's mind from shouting.

It was great casting. And the sleazy guy acting as
the sleazy guy who in the film grabs Charlotte Corday
and comes in his pants. In character to the hem.

If not the hilt. He went into repertory, did it all again
with girls (and the hilt). Sometimes you hear him on TV.
The girl who hefted her big skirts across the stage

as Corday, of the sexy hem, in rehearsals on hot days
took her top off, brown-skinned before the spray can,
took our breath away, just a nudist at heart, she said.

And stabbed me every night in the heart (Ohh).
And Bill, the only one who could really act, and brilliantly,
at night paced out de Sade, as Freudian and philosophical

as his buggered politics and his buggery and dissent
in rotten Paris. Each night he got scarier but he lived
while I died. We raved a lot but never had a party.

 

2

The destiny of France and psoriasis grew out
through my skin, each raw patch was a vineyard
gone to ruin, the barrels full of acid.

Marat, Marat, but the label was peeling off
the only bottle. All play-long I slumped in the bath
David painted for me long after the event,

nakedness my arm slung down to the floor.
Damp, camp not boyo out the driver's window
foot down, burning rubber in Le Commodore.

The girl in the Green Room fastened my nappy
every night, kneeling just inches in front of me.
Leaning forward would have changed the play.

Marat is a mouthful anyway, but 40 pages
to get through? Then after my nightly fall
when I stood for the delirious stumble

downstage with the lunatics, my loincloth
fell, my legs bare to the groin, they took
a photo, an upthecloth shot, untucked and hairy

legs and unsexy publicity beetle. Kafka, I was
my own nightmare, or Jesus in a stare-well.
Stephen kept a copy of it on his office wall.

Two weeks of this. I lost my singing voice to it.
It was a high. I thought of crime and art being much
the same. I was mixed up. I became an academic.