AMERAN THEATRE • by Therese Arkenberg

In Ameran theatre, each actor picks a single role and plays it all his life. There are few scripts, and none of them are complete — that would be limiting.

Khoal became the Swordsman, which is an important role. He brought a rare compassion to it. The audiences that liked him most were those who rarely went to the theatre, who were forced along by friends or brought in for a family gathering, who remembered their all their previous experiences with the stage as one. He was held up as an example of the versatility of the role.

Lhoven became the Lover. He played his part opposite the Dancer, the Singer, the Veiled Woman, and the Queen, but he was left unsatisfied until he and the Swordsman first found each other behind the tents and kissed for the first time. It became a new romance, something rare in Ameran performance. Their troupe became moderately famous.

Sardra became the Dancer. It was a poor role for her; she later saw the Swordsman in a third act and knew it would have been a more proper one. She danced with violence. Partly it was natural, an expression of what would have made her a Swordsman, and partly it was because she could never be a Swordsman.

Neilt became the Villain. She was not an evil woman, but in Ameran theatre that soon changes. The Villain does not often win, but sometimes, if the play goes well — in a certain way of speaking — it is possible. That is why an actor takes the role.

Ameran theatre can be performed off stage. For the Villain to succeed, sometimes it must be. One night, while the Swordsman and Lover slept, Neilt set fire to their tent. They escaped, but the Swordsman was badly injured. There was some talk of canceling the performance, because a Villain is dangerous without a Swordsman onstage, but performances are rarely canceled in Ameran theatre. Neilt came before the audience and prepared to perform her victory.

Sarda danced onstage. She was garmented as the Dancer, but she carried the Swordsman’s blades. Neilt had not expected her to change roles — nobody did; it is a thing that does not happen in Ameran theatre, like a cancelation. But this night it did. Sardra was victorious, and Neilt bled her life out on the stage.

The Swordsman healed. In time they got a new Villain, and Sardra’s role became the Sword Dancer, and the troupe became quite famous.

Therese Arkenberg is a student from Wisconsin. She works part-time at her local library; unfortunately, this work does not include test-reading. She has been writing for at least four years, mostly speculative fiction. While her only pets are some fish, she has quite the extensive collection of stuffed animals. More of her fiction is forthcoming in publications like Bards and Sages Quarterly, M-BRANE SF’s anthology of queer science fiction, Things We Are Not, and Sword and Sorceress 24.

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