My family clearly exhibit the herd instinct, if you ever meet us in an empty movie theatre; we’re the type to sit right in front of you! No matter how far back you go… we’ll hunt you down, and remember we’re tall, long and awkward. We then proceed to open noisy plastic bags, tweet about the movie while turning off the volume on our phones (everyone loves that blue glow right?) argue over the jellies, and when I start eating popcorn? Well then you’ll just move to avoid the missiles.
Any balance I have, stays out in the car park to hang around in the glow from a street light chatting with his friends. A tall, lanky teenager in comfortable shoes with his hoodie up, breath foggy in chilly night air, too embarrassed to come into the dark with me.
Darkness is not my friend. It likes to manipulate me. It is my puppeteer, with a nasty sense of humour. The movie theatre is my puppeteer’s cardboard stage, complete with velvet curtains. As he pulls my strings, he enjoys watching my negotiation of the steps and seats to climb over. By the time I’ve climbed all the way back to where you’re sitting, I collapse exhausted on to my seat.
The puppeteer is a French man called Pierre. A grumpy red faced man who looks very like Peter Sellers, hat and all. Over the last few days, the scene on my stage has a new theme called ‘All the World’. I share my stage with two new characters, a mouse and a lion. Both of whom seem to twist and dance at Pierre’s mercy. My first impression of them was wrong though, my assumptions were based on Aesop’s fable where the lion is regal and powerful at first, then by showing mercy to the timid little mouse, he gets rewarded. The Lion and mouse beside me on stage are polar opposites to Aesop’s characters.
The lion starts out every scene completely at the puppeteer’s mercy, cowering from Pierre and afraid to step out of turn. He is riddled with self doubt and lacking in confidence. Happiest when his strings go limp and he gets left in a dark corner, most content when the attention isn’t on him. His roar so weak it can barely be heard.
The mouse on the other hand, starts off obeying Pierre’s commands perfectly, without question. Uncertain too at first, but as he gets used to the strings controlling him, finds ways to be more assertive and individual in his actions on the stage. He plays the game by following the puppeteer’s directions at first, but quickly finds ways to catch the audience’s attention. As the mouse grows in confidence, the strings manipulate him less and less. As more people crowd around the puppeteer and the stage, the mouse begins to break free from the strings. He starts to act in his own play, his growing audience react with great enthusiasm and support.
Slowly the mouse encourages the lion out of his dark corner, reassures him and together they learn to break free from the puppeteer’s strings. Happy and proud in their new found confidence, they sit down and enjoy the show.