Tuesday, January 28, 2014

For the Love of Theater

Theater has always been a passion and a love for me. Watching it, creating it, and being a part of the community have always been a huge part of my life. I remember being taken to theater as a very small child. One of my memories is being about eight years old and sitting on the floor in the front row as The Three Little Maids sang their song directly to me! I was thrilled!

Some theatrical performances were so profound that I have never forgotten them. When I was 12, I went to Goodman Theatre and saw a performance of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. I haven't read or seen it since, but I am pretty sure that it was one of the plays that caused me to feel like I wanted to do "that" the rest of my life.

I saw the Broadway Tour of "Hair" at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, when I was 13. I dreamed about that musical for MONTHS. I wanted to run away and become part of the "tribe"... It was also thrilling. It was a tumultuous time in the United States and Hippies were everywhere. I wanted to be a hippie, but I was scared of running away, as so many teenagers did then. I liked the peace-niks and the natural life, the unfussy flowy clothing, not cutting hair, not shaving legs... I just didn't care for the "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" side, not being old enough to be ready for sex, not liking drugs (they're unnatural, right?), and not liking rock and roll that much. Were the Beatles rock and roll?? I liked some rock and roll, then.

I loved folk music: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, the Midnight Special radio program in Chicago, and the comedy of the pre-Monty Python set, and Firesign Theater. I'm writing this as I mourn the passing of the great Pete Seeger. I know he was 94, but still I wish he could live at least a bit forever more.

It's hard to put into words what it is about theater that grabs me and won't let go. And indeed, these days, as many shows as I go to, I still want to immerse myself more. For some practitioners of theater, after they are done with their own show, seeing others is a "bus-man's holiday," but not for me. While I might get tired, I never get tired of theater. See ya at the show!