Teaser 277: Munich Movie Premiere

I personally received hundreds of requests for the premiere. The theater in Munich could seat over a thousand with a balcony, too. I had to provide access to hundreds of media critics, hundreds of entertainment colleagues, hundreds to “dignitaries” from all over the world. AVAP produced little laminated cards for all attending, attached to a cord, but some didn't wear them. There were people hired for security who merely asked names and crossed them from the list but there were no crashers. Everyone arrived at the premiere in their own separate limos and it was impossible to coordinate with so many for a specific arrival time. At times the limo line stretched five city blocks. All the cast and crew and the wiz kids arrived in limos by group. The band all arrived first with their spouses or significant others, Martin coming with his significant other. We all knew that about Martin. None of us cared, except that Martin was a full band member like all of us.

Rebekka pulled up with the rest of the Maenads, Jan with his section, next came the male chorus, all of the crew and camera guys, and the last carried the wiz kids, all except for Sirani, who rode with the crew and camera guys. Tanya arrived with other German dignitaries including the mayor of Munich. I hugged him warmly, advising him the street sign he procured for me announces a certain hotel in India now resides on my street. “I was happy to be of service, Al-Barrak,” he replied jovially after I hugged him. He then produced a copy of Fractures which I autographed for him. I hugged Tanya and smiled widely at her dazzling apparel and full womanly figure hidden beneath.

“Everyone here knows about us, Al-Barrak. It's intimidating to me. You never let up.”

“No, I don't, and since I control where everyone sits, I can offer you a seat with us, the cast and crew, or you can sit with your German contingent. Nothing like pressure, my beloved.”

“No, you do not let up. I think I should sit with my contingent and mingle during the party.”

“Suit yourself. I shall always respect your will, what you want, and you have known it from the beginning. I am very pleased to have you in my presence again. Thank you for coming.” Possibly the tallest woman in attendance kissed me at that precise moment.

The only one from the original six not attending the premiere was Serena. I invited her through John, though all others were invited by me directly. As I advised John I will not contact her directly while she's in the romantic throes of another billionaire and has not once contacted me since it started. As John related back to me, she was offended I did not invite her directly and it's why she would not attend. “Good. We agree to remain stubborn, obstinate and pig-headed, back where we started, except while she's hiding her desire like before, I have almost no desire for her. I only want her to bring me her uninhibited love, but I imagine she shares it only with her billionaire boyfriend now. Hope he can appreciate it, though I imagine he can't, being too busy counting his money.” I made no effort to hide my extreme disappointment in Serena's latest turn in life.

The arrivals took hours, which is why we started having attendees arrive at four. There were a lot of photographers, plenty of paparazzi, along with hundreds, maybe even thousands of on-lookers roped off on the sidewalk of the theater. It seemed a decent movie premiere with reasonable attention. There were cameras, even some from news networks world-wide showing it live. There were no klieg lights. It felt awkward to have that in Germany and I didn't want the additional spectacle. It was, in my opinion, spectacular enough without them.

A few minutes before seven, when the movie would start, I stepped onto the small stage before the big screen and announced, “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for coming to Amygdala Video and Audio Productions' premiere, Myth of Man and Woman. My name is Al-Barrak, for those authorities in attendance.” Laughs. “On behalf of all the cast, crew and staff of AVAP, we hope you enjoy it.”

I walked to the back section where we sat in a block together, Esperanza on my left and Magdalena on my right. The first change everyone noticed right away was the logo sequence from AVAP, which was a departure from the old logo many had seen from AVAP's previous work. An animated professor writes “AV” on a blackboard, two animated boys wrestle from the left, one's head is smacked, leaving a bloody “A” next to the “V”, they switch and the other's head is smacked, leaving a bloody “P” next to the second “A.” They wrestle off screen to the right, background dissolves and “Amygdala Video-Audio Productions” appears below. That dissolves to “PRESENTS,” which itself dissolves, fading into “Myth of Man and Woman.” When that dissolves the darkness of the Basel theater fades in as do the sounds from the audience, there is the short flicker of the lighter, five seconds later and I am bathed in a spot. When my spiel concludes and Bruno is the only other presence seen on stage, we launch Hot N' Cold. The relentless assault, visually, audibly, begins and does not let up until we reach Roll Right Stones, which ends the first half of the movie.

The intermission is an integral part of the movie. The visual is a still from the very end of Defy You as the explosions touch off. The caption reads “You Got 10 Minutes Relief.” After a minute it changes to “You Got 9 Minutes Relief,” and so on, until “You Got 1 Minutes Relief.” After one more minute it dissolves and the rest of the performance picks up from I Won't Tell 'Em Your Name.

During the short ten minute intermission I stepped out into the lobby along with almost everyone else and noted the stampede to the few rest rooms. The boys and their spouses all stood together and smiled as I sauntered up to them with Esperanza and Magdalena on either side, though both would soon excuse themselves and move to the lavatory.

John was first. “Just as a concert, Al-Barrak, I am overwhelmed. The music is fearless, driven, authentic and impressively delivered. But you've combined that stunning performance with stage action and recorded action interspersed with the music driving all of it, and it is astounding. My God! What the audience in Basel must have thought!”

Will beamed appreciatively. “I had heard, Al, about some of the songs you guys did and I thought, there's no way they're gonna do that! No rock band would ever do a cover of that song! It's too emblematic of the original band! You pull every one off. In many cases, they sound better than the originals!”

I shook my head mildly while I smiled congenially at Will. “Will, with sheet music there are many ways to perform a composition, each one considered an arrangement. With orchestras the conductor arranges the musical presentation but with recording methods, arrangements became the domain of producers, and they would use each musician's unique ability to create an arrangement which would be impossible to recreate from sheet music only.” I paused to gaze at all my cherished colleagues. “We threw all of that away! The only sheet music was produced by Jan for the brass and woodwinds and Jan working with Rebekka on the choral arrangements. No one in the band used sheet music at all. Everything was strictly produced by ear and memory. I cannot read sheet music. No one produces a musical stage performance with lights and screen presentations coordinated with the music the way we did. They don't do it by ear, by memory, with almost everyone performing it like that, but we were so tight at the end of rehearsals, Will, those in the brass, the woodwinds, the chorus members didn't even bother looking at the sheet music any more, for a performance spanning more than four hours with mostly amateurs! The only pros on the Basel stage that night were all of the band, Rebekka and Jan. Everyone else had never performed professionally.”

Drake stepped up to me and squeezed his right arm around my neck. “Bro, what I've seen and heard so far is breath-taking and it's the fullest stage performance I have ever witnessed and there's still two hours left. I'm surprised the audience could actually walk out of the theater when you were done. I would have been catatonic!”

“Thank you, my brother. Wait 'til you see and hear some of the songs in the second half. We perform Siberian Khatru very close to the original, but Klaus, Martin, Bruno, Ernst and Josef have the musical chops to perform their parts, the two out of the male chorus have the voices, and Jan takes some of the keyboard overdubs and translates them to the brass, french horn, oboe, clarinet, coronet. I only tried to hold on during all the rehearsal but it's superb. You will be impressed.”

I received accolades from almost everyone I passed in the lobby. Some of the critics—of whom many were pointed out to me by others who knew them—would sometimes stop me to ask a question. I politely advised them to hold onto it and we would all answer it after the movie showing.

Ushers came out to the lobby and announced there was one minute left. Most started drifting back into the theater, though there were quite a few who missed the first two or three songs from the second half. Well, it is long and relentless. It was always our intent.

The last half was as impressive with the Munich audience including the encore, when I stepped on the stage wearing Mildred's crazy hat, which received loud laughter. The song concluded, the applause deafening through a slow fade, the credits are completed over a black background, and the screen display read “Performed live by Duck and Cover and entire company in Basel, Switzerland. We thank the theater and the outstanding audience in attendance that night. Peace be upon you all.” The next screen displayed the credit for distribution by John's company.

When the lights came up, before anyone else could say anything, I loudly announced, “Please let us all get to the stage so we may address any questions and comments. Bear with us because I do have an announcement to make before we proceed.” It became reasonably quiet and the entire cast, crew and all the wiz kids made our way. Esperanza wanted to stay back in her seat but I pulled her up by her arm. “You are a light in my life, my beloved. Please accompany me.”

I first introduced Esperanza. “Let me introduce one of my wives. I have more than one. Esperanza?” She moved closer and I took her hand in mine. “Esperanza is the guiding light, the inspiration, and the wise consultant who made the African experiment the success it has become. As a professor, though, she could not relinquish her duties at Cal-State Northridge and spend months in rehearsal or I would have had her dancing around on stage as one of the Maenads, too. I think I heard you say you wished you could, my beloved?”

She smiled and bowed slightly and loudly proclaimed, “You're making me nervous, my beloved.”

“The whole world's been watching you for some time. I would think you'd be used to it by now.” I immediately let her off the hook, introduced Lena as my wife and a cast member, and she bowed and kissed me on my bearded cheek. I then introduced every band member, cast member, crew member, and all the wiz kids, individually for a bow. “Now that you know all of us, can we hear it from you?” The entire theater rose for a standing ovation and we all bowed together.

I kept the focus and selected those in the audience, consciously trying to choose critics and other media people in attendance. It would help with publicity and we certainly could use it. One of the questions addressed our failure to deliver a consistent tragic myth, since we made the link. Rebekka loudly shouted, “I'll answer.” I nodded to her and she stepped to the front. “When we were putting this together, we realized there was no cohesion between all the songs we wanted to perform which would allow us to be consistent with tragic myth, so it was never our intention from the beginning. Instead, we wanted to provide a performance which would consistently deliver duality, that there are and always will be aspects of life which come in pairs, a duality in that one cannot exist without the other. Male, female, hot, cold, good, evil, pain, pleasure. This is why the title is Myth of Man and Woman, where we introduce duality even in the title. This was our aim, our objective. The introduction of Apollo and Dionysus produces duality. That is life. Life is duality.” When I smiled widely at Rebekka and she noted it, she delivered a sweeping, low bow to me and I laughed.

- Just Desserts, Segment Thirty-FourDebut of a Movie Mogul” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

contact me, as always: schussprose@gmail.com