Takemoto-sensei took in a slow breath. Released it. He cleared his mind. He willed the arthritis out of his fingers. He did not have time for the pains of an old man. The performance was about to start. As he put on the blue robes that symbolized his invisibility onstage, he prayed to the gods of the theater and of his clan. Tonight’s performance would be perfect. It had to be perfect; with his age and the censors and the changing tastes of the audience, Takemoto never knew which performance would be his last.
After discussing the matter with his projectionist, Takemoto had chosen a portion of The Trials of Crimson for tonight. A perennial favorite, though tonight they would be performing a more dramatic rather than romantic section. The Revolution of Fire and the destruction wrought by the Imperial forces. An appropriate reminder for these latter days. Let the audience and the censors make of it what they will.
He had been told that the theater was full, or at least that all the tickets had sold. Such was the strength of the play’s reputation. But too many patrons in these latter days bought tickets and did not attend the performance. It was advantageous to be seen as a patron of the arts, but that did not mean one enjoyed them, much less appreciated them. And Takemoto’s art was one most people found difficult to understand.
It was not a holonovel, where audience and performer were one, the viewer the solipsistic star of everything. Nor was it teleradio, with thoughts and emotions beamed directly to the brain. It was not a net opera, with everyone jacked into the same experience. His art was cineraku, and Takemoto was a master.