Excerpt from “Merzan” a screenplay by Marc Blake

Merzan sits with his head down. Philippe rubs his chin again to find a way to communicate. Gets an idea and pulls a coin from his pocket.

“Merzan? Do you see this coin?”

“Oui monsieur.”

Philippe uses the coin to perform a sleight of hand trick. He makes the coin disappear.

“Merzan? Now can you see this coin?”

Merzan correctly answers, “No monsieur.”

Philippe, determined, drills him further, “Does the coin exist.”

Merzan considers his answer and decides, “Well, oui, it does! It did.”

Philippe summarizes, “Merzan, it is much easier to make a coin disappear than to make a person disappear.”

Merzan, heartsick, simply says, “I don’t understand.”

Philippe “magically” brings the coin back to view. He puts the coin into Merzan’s hand.

Philippe explains the metaphor, “In your hand is a coin just like every other, oui?”

Merzan answers, “Oui.”

Philippe elaborates, “When this coin is in my hand I can make it appear or disappear. It becomes a magic coin.”

Merzan admittedly confesses, “I don’t understand.”

Philippe digs deeper to provide light to the topic, “When you perform, no! Let me say, when you demonstrate the magic that is yours you have the power to control what people will see.”

Merzan begins to believe he is catching on to the metaphor.

Philippe continues, “Your camera, Merzan, is your magic coin. I have served many fine photographers over many years. Merzan, you have something special and I believe that as soon as you learn to trust yourself you will find that artiste inside that you want to be.”

Philippe stands up and begins using the entire shop like a stage as if he is, enthusiastically, speaking to a large audience with the authority of a great philosopher.

Philippe orates, “Do not think about who sees you. Focus on what you can see. There are great powers that control the destiny of an artist. The artist is unique in our society. It is their job, though some will refuse to accept this truth, to guide the world by establishing a foundation for which others can build and enjoy their lives. The composer gives us music to carry our emotions and caress us when we are sad, or alone, or afraid. The musician interprets this composition to help us find our way back to a place of peace and harmony so that a bad day can become good. The painter tricks us into believing the world can be what we imagine it should be. The painter shows us the beauty that we know should be in our lives and also warns us of the evil so that we can be strong enough to fight back temptation. And the actor takes us away from our own life on a journey to a place that teaches us things we were not able to learn on our own. The artist is the true philosopher and even with these very magical gifts, many never see the artist.”

Philippe uses his hands to make an imaginary coin disappear with sleight of hand. He holds up two fists, then pops them open to show that there is nothing to see.

Philippe and Merzan, in perfect synchronization, both say the exact same thing next, “And the price the artist pays is often starvation and loneliness.”

Phillipe explains to Merzan

“Do not think about who sees you. Focus on what you can see. There are great powers that control the destiny of an artist. The artist is unique in our society.”