Book 39

50. Forever associated with a desire for “the Moderate Way”, the urban communities of the Centre Edge wished to curb what they saw to be the excesses of Gestures Theatre.

Its freely developing growth, largely unregulated from within, and certainly not regulated from without, irritated their sensibilities.
They attempted first of all to make a move to regulate the Gestures Drama companies through the only perceivable representative body, the Jatchett Registry, which to avoid plagiarism in the industry and to look after authors’ rights, had instituted a loose book-keeping system. But the Jatchett Regisry was a voluntary institution arranged for mutual benefit and had no legal standing or constitution that could be enforced. The supporters of the Moderate Way, lead by the ledger-clerk Antimonius Bricker. surreptitiously researched the Jatchett Registry’s very incomplete archives to find a means to legislate. Not finding the tools for the restrictions they wanted, they started to interfere with various public and private sources of income and support for Gestures Drama by forms of persuasion which some might call intimidation. They contrived to limit certain public services to Gestures Drama managers and supporters.
Antimonius Bricker drew up a list of limitations that included a refusal to collect street horse-dung, to limit the cropping and felling of dangerous trees, to delay the implementation of the maintenance of roads and tracks, to introduce adverse re-routing of open drains, and to enforce a biased use of public lighting to make access to the homes and workplaces of Gestures Drama supporters difficult, problematic and possibly dangerous, and certainly aesthetically unsatisfactory.

In some cases, to rid themselves of these restrictions and prohibitions, theatre managers succumbed to pressure, and agreed to pay small fees that both parties agreed to consider as theatre taxes.

[…]

And when, because any interfering alternative was worse, by force of habit, voluntary subscriptions became more or less acceptable, the Moderators made them compulsory.

[…]

Peter Greenaway, The Rise and Fall of Gestures Drama

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