– Look over there. That’s the invisble man I wanted you to meet.
– Where is he?
– Over there.
– He’s beautiful.
In Kabuki, a traditional Japanese dramatic form, there are stagehands or Kuroko who wear all black. They are supposed to be invisible. The audience shares the illusion. They run around the stage handing props, moving scenery, becoming things. They are the waves in a sea (they wear blue for it). They are the wind and the night. They are the fire and the fight. They are the birds and the sky. Rather, they are the idea of them all. And one isn’t supposed to see them. They are invisible.
(A woman sits on a boat marvelling at the flying seagulls. The rower calls them common birds but she scolds him for calling them so. She calls them miyako dori – the capital birds. The birds of the poem – the poem of the poet journeying on the same river, Sumida, and singing of the same birds. She asks the birds if her missing child lives. The birds are invisble)
The stagehands do not take part in the central action. They are not the woman or the rower. And they are not the missing child. They may be the river or the boat – at least the idea of the river or the boat. They do not speak. They are trained to give away nothing. They watch the story unfold. They watch as a clock. Silent and moving. They are there. If you only see them, you cannot see the play. You would be looking at the boat instead of who is in it. And you would miss the action. You’ll miss the plot.
But you will see the invisible.