ISSN : 2266-6060

Capacity

Paris, May 2021.

“It’s open seating, so we can sit together“. The two couples were looking forward to this return to theater. Beckett, once again. Could it be more appropriate in these times of disturbing human proximity? On their way, they had walked along the marks that had appeared the year before, which reproduced the features of the road on the floor of the station’s corridors. White arrows, a dotted central strip. In the train, they had barely noticed the stickers at their feet, which reminded them of the importance of a distance impossible to respect on this feverish Saturday of newfound freedom. Once they had crossed the few overcrowded streets, they found the familiar coolness of the hall’s velvet. A few discreet arrows guided them to the small room on the top floor.
The hostess was waiting for them, as if she was keeping the beacon of their recovered habits. One could see her smile despite the mask. As she guided them to a row that was still three-quarters empty, though, the friends realized that, despite appearances, things were far from being back to normal. Armed with a large roller, the hostess was working on what she must have found to be a very sad operation. Once she had helped each group of spectators to settle in, she took two stickers and placed them on the edge of the seats to their left, and two more to their right, organizing the physiognomy of the room as people arrived. Her task was to translate the administrative abstraction of a 30% capacity limit into a series of open and closed seats.
After the play was over, they spotted her as they left the room, collecting stickers for the next day’s performance. The image struck one of them. Every night, she would draw out of the occupied seats a new shape for the ghost of the 70%, which would still haunt the theaters for a long time.