‘Canio’s Mirror’ at Jimmy’s, New York

Prologue: Two of Two

Please? Will you allow me? My friends who are the crowd, excuse me if I appear thus alone, I am the Prologue. 

Since once again the author has revived, on our stage, the masks of ancient comedy, I wish to restore to you the old stage customs. But not, as in the past, to reassure you, saying, “The tears that we shed are not real…they’re feigned. For we are acting. And their suffering need not move our hearts-it is but make believe!” No. The author has sought to paint for you a scene from life. That the artist is human is the author’s basis and so they write for the soul. So you will see love, as real as human beings’ love: you will see the sad fruit of hate. You will hear agonies of grief, cries of rage and bitter laughter! So think then, not of our poor costumes, but of our souls. For we are of flesh and blood and, just like you, bewildered and helpless, we go through this lonely world in darkness.

This the author intended. Now hear how it is unfolded.
(calling towards the stage) Come, the curtain is rising, let’s begin!
— as spoken by the character of Tonio in Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.

Under the canvas of the dressing tent, within an opera, before a play, before an audience two times over, that is those who act as an audience for us, and we, the furthest audience, watching over all, the weeping Canio holds a mirror and the face of Pagliacci looks back. As Canio paints onto his face the mask of the tragic clown the two characters, Canio and Pagliacci, become one.

Canio having just realized that his beloved wife has given her heart to another steadies himself in order to play the role of Pagliacci who will soon realize that his life shares the same fate. It is here, within the mirror, that the two actors sing “vesti la giubba” (on with your costume) and the first of two acts comes to an end. The curtain falls, slowly, and does not rise again until the beginning of the Commedie , the world of Pagliacci. Between the beginning of Act Two and the beginning of the Commedie nearly every character appears on stage, or is to be heard offstage, and the audience is ushered into their seats. Money is collected and the crowd urges for the performance, the tragedy, to begin. For the curtain to be drawn back so they, and we, can see what it is that’s behind. Although, for us, some curtain has already been raised.

Vesti la giubba, at the end of act one, is the muddling point of the opera. It is here that the two performances onstage begin to weigh against one another and attempt to break from their duplicity, not into clarity, but rather into the place of the prologue. The prologue, where an actor in full costume remarks to the crowd that what they are about to see is in fact real and not just the works of theater, actors, and make believe. That on this stage, set before the audience, real life will unfold along with all of its misgivings, pain and pleasure, love and grief. But, to what audience is the prologue addressed and to what degree has life been performed?

To perform! When my head’s whirling with anguish. Not knowing what I’m saying or what I’m doing! And yet…I must…force yourself! You’re a clown! On with your costume, and your face painted brightly. Your public pays you, and they must be amused. Though betrayed, laugh clown, be merry…they will applaud! You must transform your despair into laughter. Laugh and amuse them, though your love betrayed you! Laugh, through the torment that embitters your heart! 

Canio:

The comedy is finished!

— Matthew Layng

Gallery map

Install Caleen and Bora

Caley Feeney
Animated Charm Doll

Isabella Rodriguez
Soap

Isabella Rodriguez
Blood

Isabella Rodriguez
Gossip

Isabella Rodreguez
Revolutionary Girl Utena

Isabella Rodreguez
Jugghouse

Bora Akinciturk
God’s Design

Bora Akinciturk
One Last Trip To Flavor Town

Caley Feeney
Poo Poo Butterfly No. 1

Caley Feeney
Poo Poo Butterfly No. 1

Caley Feeney
Poo Poo Butterfly number 3

Caley Feeney
Poo Poo Butterfly number 2

Caley Feeney
Poo Poo Butterfly No.3-left

Caley Feeney
Poo Poo Butterfly No.1-Back

Caley Feeney
All the safety and comfort of home On The Go

Caley Feeney
All the safety and comfort of home On The Go (detail)

Isabella Rodreguez
Seashell

Caley Feeney
Sir Psycho-flexi

Caley Feeney
Sir Psycho-flexi (detail)

Caley Feeney
Sir Psycho-flexi (detail)

Caley Feeney
Sir Psycho-flexi (detail)

Caley Feeney
Sir Psycho-flexi (detail)

‘Canio’s Mirror’
w/ works by Bora Akinciturk, Caley Feeney, Isabella Rodriguez
Organized by Joseph McGehee
at Jimmy’s, New York
1.4.17 — 16.4.17

Photo documentation by Mario Miron

www.jimmysridgewood.com