Art Community Faces New Challenges

The children filed into the small, pleasant auditorium. As they shuffled down aisles and settled in cushioned seats, fidgeting and picking noses until kinetic energy was spent, the house lights dimmed and a bright beam illuminated red curtains.

All sat quietly and waited.

Beings emerged from a previously undetected split in the curtain and engulfed the small stage space. The figures were disproportionate, their shapes familiar yet exaggerated, fantastic. Their skin was fabric and their eyes were plastic. A blue dragon sang a song to a yellow-haired girl with button eyes. The dragon’s name was Pate. The girl was Crabapple.

The children craned their necks and stared. Though they accepted this new reality, they did not understand it. As far as the children were concerned this was creation, performance, art of the highest caliber. The puppets danced and twirled and told stories, moved hands and arms tethered to the earth by barely perceptible sticks, and the children were content.

The material was appropriate and engaging, but not confusing. The children liked it very much. There was music, an upbeat organ recorded long ago, played through expensive speakers. The dragon was not threatening, and the girl was a worthy heroine with flaws only of indecision. The stakes were low and the jokes were broad. It had all been done before.

Some of the children simply accepted this performance. No immediate questions sprang to mind. They did not wonder where these characters came from or why they were doing the things they were doing. Other children simply assumed there was something happening behind the curtain, some presence that had a purpose, and the purpose obviously had the best interests of the children in the audience in mind.

Still others in the audience wondered how the puppets were constructed and controlled. These children observed the performance with flawed and limited eyes and minds of their own. They noted all they could about what was happening. Obviously, with such limited resources, they could not grasp the bigger picture.

Most of the children just sat in a dazed stupor. They did not do anything. Not a single child attempted to rise and approach the stage. That would have been against the rules. No one ventured to peek behind the curtain, to see what was really going on. That was too frightening. It was easier to stay ignorant and assumptive. Likewise, none of the children ran screaming from the theater, driven immediately mad by the sheer absurdity of the spectacle. They accepted the presentation and their own place in the world.

Crusifixx the Warrior entered Plato’s Cave Theater. He was silent. He did not interrupt the performance or make a speech or try to explain anything. Nor did he try to explain things to himself. Most of these children were well-educated, professional people in their twenties and thirties, and Crusifixx did not have much sympathy for them. He was doing his community service, and his ax was sharp.

His great, bulging arms jutted out from the fur of his vest like tree trunks. His biceps buckled as he raised his ax and swung, lopping several heads off pudgy bodies. As his blow rebounded, the blade easily cut through several more throats. A few of the audience members turned their heads away from the show to see their attacker before they met their doom, but not many.

Crucifixx did not see the error in his mission. He did not understand that change in form offers no solution for progress. Simply clearing away inactive elements in a cluttered equation does not increase value. Problems need solutions rather than brutal execution. Crucifixx had a flaw of his own, and it was the concept of destruction with any permanence, the idea that violent action ever bred true serenity. But Crucifixx failed to see all of this, his abilities and perception blocked him from revelation of this kind.

When he had disposed of the audience, Crusifixx lumbered to the stage and his true aim. He knew if he had gone straight for the puppeteers, the audience would have risen up in defense of their new idols. The children would have revolted in order to save the performers and protect the values and comforts that had been forced upon them. They would have thwarted Crusifixx, overpowered him with their numbers, and the world would have continued in a pleasant fantasy. In this regard, The Warrior was triumphant.

“Donald. Yeshua. I know you’re back there,” Crusifixx said calmly as freshly opened veins still squirted like lawn sprinklers. “It is time.”

The puppets slumped over. The entertainment had come to an end, the show was done. There was no one to watch or enjoy the facade any longer. There was no reason to continue. In truth, the performers were relieved. They were only in it for the money anyway.

The two old tricksters emerged from behind the curtain. From the seats in the house, the curtain looked soft and new, but Crusifixx could see it was tattered and moth-eaten, barely held together by its mends and restitching. Crusifixx’s boots were soaked in fresh blood.

“We’re sorry,” Donald eked out, his eyes on the floor.

“Doesn’t matter,” Crusifixx replied without judgment.

Yeshua let out a juicy fart. “Man, I’ve been holding that since the 60s.”

They all laughed together. Crusifixx had his hands on his hips and one fist still gripped the hilt of his gore-splattered ax.

“Aw, jeez!” he cried with gusto. “Life sure is great, don’t you think, guys?”

Courtesy of Plato’s Cave Theater