Ten minutes to curtain (A bow to Dame Ngaio Marsh)

Then five minutes -- leaving the warm dressing room, adjusting his wig, the player arrives backstage into a world of shadows separated by stretched canvas from a world of light. He waits, staring absently at a painted legend on the canvas door; Act II, Scene I, or into a prompt corner where a shaded lamp casts light on a book and hand following voices pitched larger than life, in formal pattern. Beyond them -- like an observant monster in a black void -- the audience. Suspended between preparation and performance, the player listens, steps back two paces, breathes deep and, moving up to the door, enters on cue, crossing over the threshold from one reality to another on a wave of exhilaration.

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