Teaser 256: Introduction to Rebekka

Bruno rang me in the afternoon. “Lorna called. She and Greta asked around at university about putting on our performance with costumes and the like and they were told to go to the Arts school and speak with a drama professor. You won't believe what they found out!”

What Lorna and Greta “found out” was the Professor didn't want to take the time but she did ask the women what they had in mind. Out came my name, both, and Appollonian versus Dionysian theater. Immediately, the Professor was interested, so interested she wanted to meet all of us this night.

“I hope the Professor has a solid idea about discretion, Bruno,” I stated, my disappointment unconcealed. “Our performance will have its greatest impact when the spectators are not expecting it.”

“They both asked her not to talk about it, Al-Barrak. Let's see what she has to say.”

I had supper ready when Lena arrived back from work and we drove out to the warehouse an hour later. Everyone was in attendance and I distributed lyrics to all the groups, with a copy for each of the mates except Josef, who never sang. I advised everyone make a copy from one of the existing copies for their individual use. The Professor was already there but, while I didn't ignore her, I wanted to get the lyrics and song lineup distributed first. Professor Dietrich was, in my humble opinion, quite an attractive woman, mid to late thirties, blond hair falling just below her shoulders, with an air of, well, drama. She was also an admirer of the former Gregory Hess, whom she called a fine storyteller.

“Why would you consider this, Al-Barrak?” Professor Dietrich posed, adding, “From what I've heard this is not in conjunction with the Way, is it?”

“It's off the beaten path, but the Way is as many and varied as there are lights in the night sky. I need only be concerned that I do this carefully and cautiously and with my friends' eager cooperation, I'll be able to achieve it. Now, Professor, what's your angle?”

She smiled at my less than impressed demeanor. “As I see it, you need many costumes, a full chorus, additional musicians for a woodwind section, lights, some sound equipment, perhaps even choreographing for dance, and considerable rehearsal with, of course, a place to rehearse.”

“We can rehearse here.”

“Why not rehearse on a real stage?” The Professor crossed her arms.

I walked over to the table and sat on it, slipping my hands under my thighs and leaned forward, smiling my most deviant smile. “Professor Dietrich, I must tell you, every time I see a woman adopt that particular pose, especially a woman of an attractive dimension, I cannot suppress addressing her by her very appearance, so, Mother, what do you have in mind, since you have given me every indication you want to be involved in all of this?” Of course, “Mother” resulted in careful laughter.

Professor Dietrich opened her mouth wide into an enchanting smile. “You are certainly consistent with your reputation.”

“Incorrigible is how one would describe it, my dear woman,” I responded, with my unfailing smile of deviance, “and I deduce things quickly and get to the point. And the point is you envision yourself on stage as one of our Maenads, true, Professor?”

“And to serve as choreographer, voice and drama coach, and adviser, should you allow me to be involved as such.”

I pushed off the table and walked to within a few feet of her. “Professor, I have no objection observing you whirling delicately, confidently all around me with your legs, arms and feet bare and fully exposed. No objection at all.” I smiled widely, and crossed my arms. “Your turn.”

The laughter filled the warehouse and the Professor laughed and smiled widely at my challenge. “You do have quite the reputation, Al-Barrak. I suppose this is when you expect the woman to melt?”

I turned to walk toward Lena and when I reached her I slipped my arms around her arm. “I never expect the woman to melt, Professor. My beautiful wife, Magdalena, when I first met her, did not melt. She simply recognized the playful child right out in the open confronting her and decided, all on her own, to come out and play. So, Professor, would you like to come out and play with me?”

Professor Dietrich smiled deviously. “I think I would enjoy it, and I also think a number of my students would like to come out and play with you, too.”

“We'll make room and let's get those costumes designed and made soon. I'm anxious to watch you rehearse.”

I suggested to Bruno we should go over the beginning and play the first song as I would need to revisit my calloused fingers soon. Let's start now. We should have the Maenads run through their routine and invite the Professor to offer her expertise. We didn't play loud but it was loud enough so it was difficult to be heard above the music. The professor suggested everyone on stage should wear ear plugs. I hadn't suggested it yet but the Professor had her playful response ready. “I'm not expecting you to think of everything, Al-Barrak. I'm honestly expecting I will soon become indispensable.”

“You know, Professor,” I retorted, “I like it when the little girl comes out to play. I think I'm going to enjoy interacting with her.”

“And like your reputation, you never shut it off, do you?”

“And gaze upon your face of utter disappointment? Never!”

The professor, as the evening progressed, was a source of energy, enthusiasm and encouragement, with an unmistakable tinge of tease and playfulness. Soon, she had the women swirling and dancing and projecting, as she studied the lyrics and designed dance movements to correspond with the songs while we played. We took a break after an hour and she sat in a chair next to mine, perspiration beading on her forehead, but with a warm and satisfied smile.

“So, Professor, tell me why you want to do this.”

“I've seen every one of your shows, the whole set. I have both of your movies. I watch them with my eye on the theatrical, projection, movement, tone, timing. You hit them all so frequently I am often astonished watching your shows because you're performing them, usually, all alone on stage, but when I watch your movies, I view them critically in regard to how you interact with all the others in the scene. You always seem so poised and natural it never appears like you're acting. It always appears you're merely interacting, acting in a manner to bring about this response, to generate your next response, and so on. Between your two movies, the characters you portray are very different, but you bring a very subtle similarity to each, and it surprises me that all the other actors pick up on it. Should you bring that style and subtlety to this performance, it will be memorable...Of course, it's been done before, Al-Barrak.”

“True, Professor.”

Please, call me Rebekka.”

“Rebekka, I agree it has been done before, though never with the obvious reference to Apollo and Dionysus and the conflict, the duality. All other times fell short, each with its own unique reason. Wagner set the Ring to be overreaching and interminable and he couldn't remove himself from the center of attention. Everyone else failed, most often, from a lack of focus, and therefor few got it. If it had been done right by anyone, everyone would still be talking about it. No one is. That's the definition of failure. If I had presented The True Cross to every studio, they all would have turned it down. There are so very few in the visual arts world who have focus. Many have vision. They simply don't know how to present it effectively. They get swept away by the distractions in the business part of it, the part that, should it have any artistic merit, is mostly a jumbled, dismembered one. It has no focus and therefor nothing to say. Most want to throw a huge sensory shock at the audience and claim it's true creativity, true art. 'Look, I have shocked people!' It's true, they shocked people, and when the shock wore off, there was no message, nothing, only mere entertainment, a method to counteract boredom. You can go out into the desert and explode a huge bomb and when people see it, they're shocked. When the shock wears off, there's a hole in the desert. What a message! 'Look, I can make a hole.'”

Rebekka smiled like she knew. “Then what is the message from this performance?”

“Life is duality. It always has been and always will be. Detached, cold rationality versus attached, manic union. Male versus female. Hot versus cold. Good versus bad. Light versus dark. Yin versus yang. On and on. Duality. One cannot exist without the other. I am not proposing how one should live and interact. I demand, though, that one be able to recognize what is what, which duality is revealed and why, and judge it then on how effective it is. It is a fallacy that one must not judge. If one cannot judge one can never decide any course of action. To refuse to judge means to relegate one's self to perpetual slumber, without motion or action. It is to be a nothing. Yet, should one judge, one must understand how to recognize and analyze. If all you want to do is sleep, you are incapable of judging. Wake up!”

“Do you think anyone will get the message?”

I smiled. “We shall see, won't we, you and me?” Rebekka smiled. I was liking her and thinking Rebekka, perhaps more than anyone, would make the message stand out, but I wanted to know more about her. “Tell me about yourself, Rebekka, your history.”

“What history?”

“Skip your romantic history. I don't care about it.”

“Why not?” Rebekka's smile was sinful. I'd seen that smile before. “Isn't it what you want to know more than anything else from every woman you meet, based on your history?”

“From a previous life? You can't get anything romantically from me unless you're my wife.” I gave her my teasing smirk.

“How many wives do you need, Al-Barrak? You couldn't marry me.”

“No. I wouldn't marry you. You have not demonstrated to me you could bring me your love foremost above everything else.”

“You're an old man, Al-Barrak. You live a life of illusion.”

“True and true, and you enjoy flirting like a teenage girl. I like it. You'll come out and play.”

Rebekka laughed. “Can anyone stay mad at you?”

“Those who live lives of delusion. They worship anything undeserving, thus deluding themselves.” I smiled at her enjoyment. She was sparring with me and I had a brief flashback of a cute Mexican actress. “Tell me how you got to where you are. What did you dream about, what inspired you as a girl, Rebekka? Tell me that.”

Rebekka smiled warmly. “I wanted to dance. I loved to dance. I dreamed of dancing as a ballerina. It is very demanding, though, with a great deal of competition...” She glanced briefly at her chest. “And I filled out. Not exactly the body type.” Rebekka laughed lightly and smiled when I returned her smile. “I never gave up dancing, on stage, in nightclubs. I love to dance, but I also had to make a living, so I did acting, drama, even comedy, and I followed that route, through Drama, combining dance, music and theater, earned my doctorate in Heidelberg, and received an offer to teach Drama, but also Dance and settled here eight years ago.” Her face opened up into her deviousness, her smile from before. “As for my romantic history, well...I tend to experiment. I'm not afraid of following my attraction, and I have been attracted to many types, both genders. Does that shock you?”

“Hardly. I could tell you a few things but I won't. When it's behind closed doors it should remain so, even if I don't identify anyone in particular. The inference is made and then someone can deduce. I have, in the past, done some pretty wild things, but there were some things I would not do.”

“Such as, with another man?”

I rose from my chair. “Would it offend you, Rebekka, if I reach to your shoulder and squeeze it?” Rebekka shook her head. I stepped toward her, placed my right hand gently on her left shoulder and softly squeezed it. “Throughout my entire adult life, women have provided me much variety, and each one in her own way beautiful and intriguing, so they had my complete attention. I have been in the company of beautiful men, too, but I was never attracted to any in the same manner. I never was. I never will be. I will always be attracted to a beautiful woman, in whatever way I determine her beauty. You possess such beauty to me, and your appearance, your presence, the very sight of you, is pleasing to me. I look forward to your revealing to me all of your other human aspects, allowing me to build my idea of the full woman you are.” I released her shoulder and stepped back to the band mates gathering for another session before we called it a night.

Rebekka rose from her chair and followed me. “I read what one woman said about you. I don't remember who, but she said you had the most romantic soul she had ever known, and I think she was right. You are truly romantic in everything you do and say.”

“Incorrigible would be a more accurate description.”

“No, Al-Barrak, incorrigible doesn't fit any more. Bad beyond correction or reform doesn't apply, for you are not who I would have expected as Gregory Hess, so you have reformed.”

I glanced to her appealing, victorious smile. I squeezed her arm above her elbow and released it. “You may consider it reformation. I consider it scaling another height. If I've reformed, Rebekka, it's due more to the fact I now exist at a higher altitude. Something in me had to change simply to reach a new height.”

Before we broke for the night Rebekka wanted one more discussion concerning the objective of the performance. “The point Nietzsche was trying to make was the Greeks produced the format of a Dionysian influence, through appropriate music, and an Appollonian influence, through the story, which was effective only through the creation of tragic myth. If you want it to be a central theme, you're going to miss the mark and people will know.”

“Through their training as critical interpreters of art, thus destroying their ability to be absorbed in the pure aestheticism of the art as a spectator?”

“True, but if you begin with Apollo and Dionysus, you have taken the step to link them, yet if you don't deliver tragic myth, won't it also destroy the aesthetic pleasure to be derived?”

“You obviously have some ideas, Rebekka. Please, let's hear them.”

“I have a copy of the lyrics. I need to hear the songs. With both, let me try to introduce a tragic myth, Greek and other cultures, which will fit each song, or most of them. We could also use the screen by showing pictures in support of the tragic myth, and use actors on the stage to re-create the myth, and retain the rest as the chorus. That's as close to what Nietzsche proposed as you're going to get without creating your own original music and theatrical tragic myth.”

- Just Desserts, Segment Thirty-OneGo Home” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

contact me, as always: schussprose@gmail.com