The Magical MysteryPosted May 1st, 2006 by Sean Williams
Last night, I returned to the theater where Fleet Week went up for the second time since our show closed. It’s worth perusing the website of the Lucille Lortel, which has been a downtown theater since being a downtown theater meant something. Nowadays, people are performing in converted storefronts and basements, which is certainly really cool, but it isn’t quite the majesty of the plush seats and the proscenium.
I’ve always been really wary of the modern view of Christianity, this love of Jesus like he’s a boyfriend up in the sky. People’s rhapsodic odes where they declare their deep and passionate love of Christ make me feel queasy because there is so much *romance* in it, so much eye-brimming lust, so that people talk of their deity in the same way they describe their husbands or girlfriends. It makes me embarrassed.
So it becomes difficult for me to talk about waking up this morning with a sense of purpose and urgency, and with that faint unsettling feeling of having been made love to the night before by someone new. The show we saw isn’t the best show in the history of whatever, but every time you have sex it isn’t gonna be Cleopatra or a young Lauren Bacall or anything, sometimes it’s just a lovely partner who loves you and lets you sleep well for one night.
This is going to be much shorter than it should be, because I really do find it impossible to describe. I am a fan of theater in a way that I will never be a fan of music. I sit and become transported, my brain goes to a different place when I’m in the theater. I don’t get the same thing from a black box, and this could be the part of my personality that has been accused of only ever dating good looking girls, but there is something about the theatricality, the falseness and attention to detail… there is something about the *attempt* to make a show following the protocols of the theater that fills me with unexplained joy.
As a quick aside, the sprouting up of black box theaters all over the city, and all over the country, is wonderful. I have friends who work exclusively in theater spaces that are too small to handle a proscenium, and the work here can transport me because of the story and the craft. But there is a difference between wearing your own street clothes during a performance and being in costume, between having a set and props and miming the sets and props. I’m not saying it has to be Ibsen for me to get it, but a complete aesthetic, from the seats I’m in all the way to the backstage crew, is capable of transporting me despite the possible limitations of the script. I love being in the theater, and it is the simple love of a simple minded fan.