I enjoy going to plays, but there is something painful about them as well. The day of a play, I think, maybe I should just stay home. Maybe we should go to a movie instead. But we clamber onto BART and slog into the city. Or we drive across crowded, commute filled Berkeley streets. Or we wait in line at the discount theater ticket booths, trying to find seats. And then we are there. The seats are always small, and there is always someone's tall head or big hat in front of me. There are lovebirds, who want to hug the entire time, or a very large person flowing into me. Michael and I switch seats, only to realize that the first bad seat was better for me. Someone has those head phones on that makes it possible for him or her to hear, but I hear the head phones, too. Someone is opening candy, even though we are exhorted not to. Michael falls asleep, his head bobbing. My mother does this, too.
I am far enough away from the stage that I can't quite get into the words for a while, but . . . but . . . there, finally. I'm at the play. I'm in the play. I'm not watching, I'm feeling. I love the immediacy, the way the actor takes over a role, becomes the person. I like to watch the way the set suddenly becomes a place. I'm in a small town, or an office, or a kitchen. There is life going on down there, and I'm watching it, part of it.
We have the discussion: "Do you want to stay?"
And only twice have I said, "No." Once was at a bizarre and ridiculous production of The Merchant of Venice in Orinda, one where they used video cameras and an MTV-like set. The other was in an ACT slump year, a play that wasn't well attended for the first half, and probably almost empty after the intermission. After that play, I boycotted ACT for a while, but things are better now.
But that's it. I stay put. I watch, staying awake, dissolving into the show. Going to plays is a pain in the ass and expensive. Yet I go for that moment, the time when I disappear into the action, find myself in a place I could have never taken myself.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org