For a while today I spent time on a dark stage. I thought about The Empty Space; I thought about Bartleby. I thought about The Hunger, The Addiction, Immortality, Cronos, and all the vampire films whose scope went beyond the usual blood bath. I thought about the vampire as a mobile signifier (but let’s not get too technical here). I thought about loneliness, perhaps not in the usual way, but loneliness as freedom from the others; I thought about the quiet of that dark room and how my thoughts always come together in such places. And then I thought about the vampire’s paradox (dilemma?) as a creature doomed to a life of seclusion, yet dependent on countless, insignificant encounters. (Seclusion, solitude, sequestration, withdrawal, privacy, peace…It’s interesting that we begin with isolation and end with tranquility, as if, as the list of synonyms progresses, we move away from all the negative connotations into an endless calm). I suppose this is why I love the desert: the bottomless intensity of that expanse of space reads as tranquility to me.
There is something in the self-imposed exile of Mr. S. Night that reminds me of the vampire’s old soul, not because all vampires are gentlemen, but because Night turns every gesture into an act of gentlemanship. And since today seems to be a good day to get lost in the library, Night also reminds me of Aloysius Pendergast, Lincoln and Child’s character, who is the perfect combination of everything I’ve ever loved in fictional men: Holmes’ intelligence and wit; the vampire’s ageless wisdom, the soft spoken voice of a man who knows the dangers of haste, a touch of Bartleby’s pallor and forlornness and, above all, the perfectly tailored black suit, accompanied by the crisp white shirt and skinny black tie. There aren’t many men around (fictional or otherwise) who can dress like that and not look like underpaid maîtres d’.
So: the vampire (quick flashback to my first years in the States: “You’re from Transylvania? Oh, how exciting! Does it really exit?” Or, my personal favorite, a random encounter - at a party- with a man who, on hearing of my birthplace, became so terrified, that he ran out of the room backwards. Good times). And yet: the vampire. How awful it must be to see people drift in and out of your life, mean something for a second and then leave, or die, or lose too much blood or find fascination elsewhere. What happens when one’s isolation is completely penetrated? What happens when one’s barriers no longer hold? And why is it that in these sad, sad vampire movies (no teenage hysteria vamps for me, please) I can never identify with the victim? Stoker. Watch Stoker. It has nothing to do with vampires and everything to do with “bad blood” and yet it has the rhythm of a noir vampire movie. Not many directors can do that: tell one story in the shape of another.
Is this what I’m doing in Noir (and have I just paid myself an enormous compliment? Let me reread that last sentence…Yep. I did). Am I taking a noir story and making it supernatural because normal love affairs (what the hell is a normal love affair, anyway?) are no longer enough? And why exactly did I stand in the middle of the dark stage in Fletcher (while S. did all the work, plugging in lanterns and lamps) and contemplated bloodletting? Ah. That is the question. Am I prepared to answer it now? No…
Allow me my stream of consciousness moment as I look at the dark of the stage and think about Night, and his self-sufficient movements, and how his face is going to look under a translucent paper lantern that casts a benign, yet slightly mortuary blue light, and how the femme fatale’s noisy entrance and Audrey sunglasses are going to other her the moment she steps into Night’s world. And how Night falls, falls, is falling in love with the Angel of Death (“Do you want to go someplace dark?"), and how much he wishes he could save the girl and live happily ever after. Perhaps the secret is that Night dislikes being happy. Perhaps happiness doesn’t match his impeccable black suit or the space he has carved out for himself of this irresponsible and hasty world that assassinates him with kindness. “We’re all out of happiness.” What chance does Night have after that?
And as S. turns on all the lights and I realize, for the first time, that this stupid, crazy idea we had to bring lamps and lanterns on the stage might just work, and as I talk to her about the space, and bluish lights and lampshades, my mind races to the vampire, to Bartleby, to Pendergast, to Night, and I see, for a fragment of a second, all my three characters standing against those globes of light looking nocturnal. And I think we might have a chance.