I have several times mentioned that I am playing in the Rogue Theatre production of Jean Genet’s play The Balcony. It is a play about mirrors, appearances, images and the shifting boundary between them and reality…if indeed there is any such thing as ‘the real.’
The Balcony is Madam Irma’s whore house. It is a house of illusions to which quite ordinary little men come to play the great archetypal figures of society, The General, or The Bishop, or The Judge among others. Sexual gratification comes through and while playing these roles.
(One of the whores, Carmen, plays the role of the Immaculate Conception of Lourdes, dressed all in blue, and when she is carried to the bed by the “leper” she has miraculously cured “it is into the blue that he penetrates.”)
The people’s revolution that swirls around the Balcony is finally crushed by the Chief of Police with the aid of the patrons offering themselves as the real General, Bishop and Judge, with Madam Irma as the Queen. The symbols triumph.
The Chief is not happy, though, because no one has come to Irma’s ‘Mausoleum’ studio to die in the chief’s heroic image. In the end someone does come, which justifies the image as one of the great archetypes, one of the great functions and the chief, not satisfied with simply being the chief, the leader, El Caudillo, enters the Mausoleum to become one with his own image.
Frankly this strikes me as the example of a profoundly diseased consciousness. Unhappy with himself this essentially diminished personality cannot simply be himself…he must identify himself with a desired image.
I am reminded of a man in a flight suit standing--- not on the elevating cauthorni worn by the patrons of the Balcony to make themselves larger than life---but on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.