A golden canyon in the desert: the walls of the narrows are this theatre’s doors, giving way onto a wide wash—a playing space—in which a low rock formation provides the audience with its bench. They have arrived for a strange, moonlike production of The Cherry Orchard. Say it isn’t raining (it never rains here). Say the actors are late for their first cues. Say one of the audience muses aloud to a colleague, waiting.
What must a now-facetious, now-earnest lament for an orchard’s loss mean here, a place empty (barren, desolate, remote) and full (colorful, sun-kissed, granularly textured)?
Say the actors are not late. Say they have not arrived. Say they never will.
Say it was never Chekhov: gradually, the audience realizes that the rocks are this canyon’s performers: slow… and, so it seems once the audience is conscious of the performance, yet slower… and slower, still. Still. It is the slowest performance to which this audience has ever borne witness.
It is the last performance to which they will ever bear witness. Determined to watch, to sense, until its end, they are outlived by the performance, by the imperceptibly moving rocks.
The dead audience debates the meaning of the performance with the other ghosts in the canyon. For whom or what or how is rock performance?
BORAX COMPANY SHAREHOLDER
Not me. … And not not me.
PERFORMANCE THEORIST II
It. Just it.
The rocks do not hear them. And they do not not hear them. Still, there is rock performance. Still.