NOT A KNIGHT (marginalia)

Monologue written to be spoken inside the music of Kaija Saariaho’s concerto Graal Théâtre.
Premiered by Thomas Kellner (actor), Peter Herresthal (violin) and Clément Mao-Takacs (conductor) at Sentralen in Oslo on May 21st, 2018, with the Oslo Filharmonien.
Stage Direction and Video by Aleksi Barrrière, Stage Design by Étienne Exbrayat and Aleksi Barrière.

The mouth speaks:

I have great admiration for people who are able to organize a tree into a book
And number the forest

But I speak of a time when books and stringed instruments had one thing in common, they were made out of the carcasses of animals, their skin their guts

Such was the medium in which God was praised : )

Deserving of the most serious stories. However, the monks who copied them with utmost care also adorned the margins with colorful illuminations, jesters, tricksters, baboons, drolleries, that wouldn’t let the black letters stand still.

Broken images from a broken mirror
Unrelated to the story
Or maybe forcing us to ask what the story really is

The curved line of a question: a quest
A detour around the world on the way back home
A thousand-year-old caravan

All stories can be told in one sentence
But then where is the pleasure?

Three-times-a-knight comes to the castle of the wounded king
He is treated like a guest, offered dinner,
A procession presents a hollow dish
Only if the knight asks the question will the king be cured of his rotting wound:
What ails you?

Beginning of movement I

The drum, the sound parchment, keeps watch in the night
The silverpoint forest stands much taller than me or you
You see The armor of innocence sparkles darkly
Heavy with dreams of conquest 

[Adventure 1]

I-E to m. 37 
Bless— Lead and follow
Dance with that beast
Lead and follow
How hard is it to listen?

I-m. 56 repeat colla voce 
The forest is burning / Saffron storm / Weightless ashes fly

I-m. 93-95
Learn the art of falling
Learn how to take a fall

I-m. 128-130
Breathing is not a matter of experience
But it can be unlearned

I-m. 140
You converse and
The castle cracks open like wood in the winter

I-m. 162-164
Why can’t you act on what you see?
You want to ask the question but you dare not

I-m. 174
This is not a quest at all

I-m. 195. Fermata on piccolo trill / repeat violin 1 motive colla voce
Let us resume

[Adventure 2]

I-m. 198-200 
“Scene of love interrupted by the clamor of battle”

I-m. 212-216
The sheets are warm Metal against naked skin
Heavy seats Embroidered something Thirsty flowers in a vase
War is calling It is the hour of the drum

I-m. 250 colla voce
How well he falls!

I-m. 255-256 on trill
How has life been treating you, are you learning how to rot?

I-m. 264 on trill 
[Dream: Adventure 2.1]

How well he falls
He falls in love
He falls asleep
A dream of endless falling
A garden that is a labyrinth

I-m. 293-297
Electric lights flashing in the branches
The sound of a party far away
In the darkness you recognize a familiar foreign face
And the dance is never too much on your limbs
And then you know the feeling of royalty

I-DD on fermatas:
[Waking Up: Adventure 2.1.1]

– You wake up into another dream
– We stare into each other
– Who is whose Commentary?
– Are you mine or am I yours?
– We begin to understand who our enemy is in this war

I-m. 383-387
And we wake up all over again
She with carmine smile gone
Sea of blood washing your head

I-m. 395-400
This was not fall this was loss
That crack in the mirror / is you

Freely between m. 406 and m. 424:
– Indigo water lilies
– Winding around your legs in the pond where the castle stood
– Shadows swimming in muddy waters
– Juggler. Juggler walk the tightrope.

End of movement I. Silence.

¡What a silence Listen!
It’s upon impact only that you know
Whether you have mastered the art of falling

I wonder As you go
Do you not wonder sometimes why you are there
Not because it’s meaningless but simply because you forgot?

I walk the world with very little wisdom
And like a swimmer without leaving traces
Soft and fierce
Like someone’s scream in the palm of my hand
Like the cracking of black ice under my foot

Atmosphere piled up on us into hazy cobalt mountains
Heavy body surface pressure
Body useless if not taken apart to make an orchestra

Do you think
I cannot speak the language of birds too?
Do you think
I cannot make the thin air sing? 
Well you are right

Read me You can feel how words make my skin blush
They won’t carve my flesh away
This is no instrument yet

Look at this parchment full of eyes
Look at this drum that breathes and listens
Look at these strings Bowels still
How they read how they sound
Ink me

What ails you.

Beginning of movement II
[Adventure 3]

Before II-A: text on fermatas between violin phrases
What ails you?
We embark on a boat without sails
It takes a cathedral of cartilage to play an eardrum
Hollow Echo Echo!

II-m. 459-460 colla voce
The Dark Ages have ended so they say
Symphonies Printing press All meridians crossed

II-m. 473-480
White rhinoceros White lead White dust on your hand
Mind the backwash brothers sisters as you drift
Shipwreck of a colonial vessel in a tropical storm

II-m. 490 (fermata)
Ochre cloud on the black ocean for a useless war

II-m. 507 (fermata)
Burnished nameless faces and shiny eyes watching

II-m. 524-526
You belong to the same world of terror as me:
We tell the same stories about it

/Actor sings along with violin/

II-H-m. 547
Take me to the silence
Talk me through the silence
Be my hollow and let me grow

II-m. 564/566/570/572
We / relinquish / all / destination

II-m. 580-581, colla voce
Hundred ways and lives all lived at once
Behold the transformation of the knight into the thousandfold tree

II-m. 620, fermata colla voce
Oh the precious two thousand nerve terminals in each square millimeter of your fingertips

Here comes the song of the beast with a hundred mouths

II-m. 697, fermata colla voce
What more? Whereto now?
You wish you could read from the morning stars

II-m. 703-704 colla voce
Your own shadow dancing among shadows:
The echo of what you were looking for

And ink the silence

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