“All The Stage A World” might be the most Twilight Zone-like tale I’ve written yet. It’s another one of those stories that just came to me full-blown, and quite recently.
I was thinking about an old theater that, amazingly, still operates in a small town where I once worked as a reporter. The theater was built over a century ago, in the heyday of vaudeville and the infant days of film. Back in the 1980s, I toured the place while it was undergoing renovations. It’s been renovated once or twice since then. At the time, I couldn’t help wondering what it was like to see a show there in the “olden days.”
Fortunately, I had a way to find out. An elderly gentleman was working as an advertising salesman at the newspaper where I was employed, and he had run the theater for many years. He shared some of his experiences, including witnessing stage acts like the magician Harry Blackstone. My own memories of that theater inform “All The Stage a World,” a mix-up of a line from Shakespeare. Or the band Rush, if you prefer.
What makes this tale so Serling-esque is how bizarre it is. I shook my head more than once as I wrote it. It also has a strong overarching theme, that being the wages of greed. Darren Starr ought to be a sympathetic figure, and initially he is—the poor theater owner having to close the doors for lack of business. But all it takes is a few dollar signs to turn his head from reviving a long-lost family tradition to padding his bank account. His fate is very much in line with the words of the apostle James, “You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.”
BeeGo, Laifly and the other imaginary characters have their roots in Pokémon, which my son played as a kid, along with a dash of TeleTubbies and other shows for the very young. For the record, I created BeeGo long before the television show Legends of Tomorrow fashioned Beebo. I’m relieved that they don’t resemble each other.