Michael Brandonisio


Three Famous Lookalikes on Stage

Spotlight center stage in a small theater with an occupancy of 200. The rest of the stage is dimly lit. The show for this short one-act musical is sold out. Acoustic guitar chords are heard.

From stage left, someone who bears a striking likeness to a Young Bob Dylan, the so-called voice of his generation, walks on stage, strumming an acoustic guitar. He reaches the front of the stage and stands squarely in the center of the spotlight. He sings the opening lines to one of his signature songs, The Times They Are A-Changin’. Prior to the second verse, 12 people (aka the Chorus) in two groups of six, stroll onto the stage from either side of the wings. Cardboard signs hang from strings around their necks. Words on the signs, written with a black marker, identify them as members of the stage production: stagehands, stage manager, wardrobe and makeup, technicians, producer, playwright, and director. They form a chorus behind the Young Bob Dylan lookalike and sing along with him.

During the middle of the second verse, someone who bears a striking resemblance to Barack Obama (aka Mr. President), the 44th President of the United States of America, appears from stage right. He holds a huge bouquet of assorted multi-colored flowers as he strolls toward the front of the stage and steps into the spotlight, joining the Young Bob Dylan lookalike, who keeps on strumming and singing The Times They Are A-Changin’. Mr. President faces the audience with a Cheshire cat grin. He starts to toss flowers, one by one, into the audience, who, in turn, jostle one another to catch one of Mr. President’s flowers.

As The Times They Are A-Changin’ winds down, someone who bears a striking similarity to Ziggy Stardust, Earth’s first legal extraterrestrial, appears from the wings, stage left, wearing a nifty space-age outfit. Ziggy strums a red acoustic guitar as he strolls to the front of the stage, joining the Young Bob Dylan and Mr. President lookalikes. Mr. President continues tossing flowers at the audience. The Times They Are A-Changin’ segues into the song Changes, written by David Bowie. The Ziggy Stardust lookalike sings the lyrics to Changes, and the Mr. President lookalike joins him in a duet, trading off on the song’s verses. The Young Bob Dylan lookalike strums his guitar, adding extra musical accompaniment. During the “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” part of the song, the Chorus kicks in, literally, like the famed Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall.

Changes builds to its climax and ends. The audience, enthralled by the performance, rises to its collective feet and gives the performers a standing ovation. The Chorus exits the stage, right and left. The three famous lookalikes, Mr. President in the middle between Ziggy Stardust and the Young Bob Dylan, stand in the spotlight at the front of the stage, smiling ear-to-ear with their arms around each other’s shoulders. After a few minutes of the audience’s adulation, the Young Bob Dylan and Ziggy Stardust lookalikes step out of the spotlight and exit together, stage left. The Mr. President lookalike is left alone in the spotlight, front and center. The stage lights get brighter, illuminating the entire stage. Mr. President, smiling broadly, showing off his pearly whites, waving at the audience as he crosses the front of the stage from one end to the other, smiling and looking so fine, exhorts the crowd with his booming voice while pumping a raised fist as he bellows, “HOPE AND CHANGE! YES WE CAN! HOPE AND CHANGE! YES WE CAN! HOPE AND CHANGE! YES WE CAN!” The audience totally eats it up, continues its standing ovation, roaring after every “HOPE AND CHANGE!” with a deafening “YES WE CAN!” Finally, as he continues waving and smiling, Mr. President blows kisses at the audience. Then, taking backward steps, he turns stage left and slips into the wings. The audience keeps cheering, shouting, fists pumping, “YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!...”

This ecstatic tumult continues for another five minutes. Then a chant of “Encore, encore, encore…” bursts from the theatergoers, and continues for a few minutes until the house lights come on and the stage lights dim to black. From the theater’s loudspeakers, an authoritative male voice speaks, “The show is over. Please calmly exit the theater now.” On the heels of the announcement, a protracted communal groan gushes forth from the 200 members of the audience and, after a few disillusioned minutes, about half of them begin to slowly file out of the theater. A few moments later, a 20-something woman, holding one of the flowers that Mr. President tossed into the audience, shouts out, “HELL, NO, WE WON’T GO!” The remaining 100-or-so members of the audience join in, repeating in raucous fashion, “HELL, NO, WE WON’T GO! HELL, NO, WE WON’T GO! HELL, NO, WE WON’T GO!” Some throw Mr. President’s flowers back onto the stage.

The authoritative male voice returns, booming from the theater’s loudspeakers, “THE SHOW IS OVER! PLEASE LEAVE THE THEATER NOW! GO HOME!” This only serves to further rile the 100-or-so remaining members of the audience. Their outcry grows even more unruly, reaching high-decibel levels, “HELL, NO, WE WON’T GO! HELL, NO, WE WON’T GO! HELL, NO, WE WON’T GO!...” After a few more boisterous minutes of this uproar, an angelic female voice emerges from the theater’s loudspeakers, singing a cappella a somber tune played at high volume. It’s Judy Collins’s recorded version of Amazing Grace. It does the trick. The remaining 100-or-so audience members stop their clamoring. Disenchanted, they shuffle towards the exit doors, some of them holding flowers (lilacs, lilies, roses, spider mums, daisies, daffodils, dahlias) that Mr. President had tossed into the audience. From a bird’s-eye view, the way the audience files out of the theater with shuffling steps, bowed heads and drooped shoulders, recalls the slave-proles in Metropolis, the German dystopian sci-fi movie produced in 1927, six years before the Nazi takeover of Germany.

When the audience members have all finally exited the theater, leaving trampled flowers on the floor, the house lights are switched off and the theater is in complete darkness. Silence prevails.

Shadow Woman

Reading some of the entries I made in a journal during a chaotic period in my life, I was surprised by some of the things I had written. I had forgotten all about them. It’s a good thing that I didn’t throw the journal away. I now have a better understanding of where I was then and where I am now. I’ve grouped those entries together and keep them on hand as a reminder to always remember that life is an ongoing process of self-discovery.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Robert found a ragged paperback on a subway train in the bowels of New York City. The book, Man and His Symbols, was inspired by concepts introduced to the world by Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung. It was written by four of his acolytes and published near the end of Jung’s life. Not a book tailored to Robert’s tastes, but knowing mine, he asked me if I wanted it. So, I took it off his hands.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

While reading Man and His Symbols, one of Jung’s conceptual insights sparks a fascination with two shadowland creatures of the interior, or psyche, if you prefer. One shadowland creatures is male; the other is female. The male shadowland creature is the animus; the female shadowland creature is the anima. In my situation, I am referring to the female concept: the anima, the woman inside the man. I have given my anima a name. I call her Felicity Della Croce. An attachment, Felicity is an itch that I cannot scratch because Felicity does not exist in the ordinary physical sense. She is a psychic entity, my personal shadow woman. She has a rainbow tinged halo and razor sharp four-inch black fingernails. It seems that I might need Felicity in the same way that G-d needed Shekinah to be fully Himself through an aspect of Herself.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

To paraphrase what William Shakespeare said by way of Prince Hamlet when the Prince said, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” I believe that this animus and anima concept, no matter how weird it seems, could very well be one of those “more” things that Shakespeare had in mind. By the time I finished Jung’s book I was certain of it.

Felicity dons an invisibility cloak when she hightails it at the break of day. But each and every night she drifts back into the dwelling. Her function is that of a dream companion.

One day I may overcome my struggle with Felicity and we will integrate fully. Perhaps. Only time will tell. Until then, Felicity will be my cross to bear, a double agent in the psychological sense, difficult to fully comprehend. Maybe later on, I will read this and be able to measure any progress that I’ve made regarding my anima, Felicity. Or she will be the death of me. Anima animus.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Felicity shadows me everywhere. I ponder the possibility of shipping her off. She would still be in circulation, only more under my psychic control. I left a message with Zeke, my guardian angel, to have a talk with her. Regrettably, my guardian angel has been missing in action for quite a while. Such are the vicissitudes of being human that when the superego is out to lunch and the bots are running the asylum, nobody bothers to walk the red carpet except for the shadow people. I am therefore left tête-à-téte with Felicity inside my head. These psychic encounters with Felicity have been at times unpleasant, yet, in retrospect, useful. For example, my intuition about things has improved. However, I continue to feel uneasy. Recently, I’ve begun to paint my fingernails black. On second thought, if I do succeed in permanently exiling Felicity, would it be suicidal? Is Felicity a double-edged sword that echoes the idea that some men express about women? The expression that goes: women, can’t live with them; can’t live without them.

Friday, August 19, 2005

During this incubation period, I have grown somewhat more accustomed to Felicity. It seems that it will be Felicity and me together like a pair of intangible Siamese twins for an unknown amount of uncertainty. On a somewhat brighter note, I am cognizant that I will never be utterly alone, no matter how hard I try. I just wish that Felicity could sometimes morph into a hologram and takeoff on a long needed hiatus. Until then, I am stuck with her until the grand finale.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I’ve recently begun to suspect that Zeke, my MIA guardian angel relic from a Catholic upbringing, and Felicity, my Jungian induced anima, are one and the same entity. Could it be possible that Zeke and Felicity have jelled into a one metaphysical entity, or is their psychic interplay a messy condition with me caught in the middle, making a hit-or-miss attempt to synthesize with the two of them? The latter complicates things even further. I can either throw up my hands and declare, “Life sucks,” and throw in the towel, or I can just roll with the flow. Rolling with the flow sounds cool. I can see it now: my eyes closed, facing the clear blue sky, I float carefree on sublime ocean waves.

I would settle for that.

And I’m still trying to settle for that. Anima mia.

Clara Feeling the Chill of Summer

Michael Brandonisio is a creative writer, visual artist and photographer.
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