When good shows go away

Last weekend the Street Scene closed. Done. Over. History.

That’s part of the gift of theatre – its impermanence. It’s an event, an experience, not an object to be revered and enjoyed for now and the future, and even when it is enjoyed for long it’s not the same experience every night.

What remains of my last show.

This was a large cast, which gave us plenty of opportunity for drama and in fighting and awkward moments, or even (to steal a word from reality tv) show-mances. Yet none of that happened. This group of actors got along and supported each other like few groups I’ve experienced before. I think part of the reason was we were all keyed up to take on this mammoth of a play, and were excited by the challenge, by the people we were working with and by the opportunity. Or perhaps we were simply caught up in the excitement which was all around us. We all wanted it to be a good production and we were all proud to be part of it.

Every night was a joy to go out and play. To actually work in tandem with other actors, listening, responding and creating this world. It was seriously a group effort, and I was fortunate to be in the mix. Perhaps the best part was that the show was very well received, most importantly by the audiences and the theatre community, less importantly by the reviewers (though they liked it too.)

We each had our routines for the evening of a show. There were the places we’d set up in the green room, or where actors would warm up. One actor jokingly chastised me for not being in the same spot I’d always been in that moment before curtain when he’d show up ready to go on. There were the conversations and games and puzzles to pass the time, the inside jokes and the post-show drinks (which included the unique cocktail created for this particular show by one of the cast members. It was called an Elmer, and it was tasty.) But then, like all good things, it had to end.

Those people who saw it will remember it, likely for years. Some people will remember that they didn’t get to see it. Others will have just missed out. I will have memories for many years, and several new friends to go with them.

Yesterday the 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival opened. If ever there were an event that was the epitome of the fleeting moment of energy and excitement around a theatrical production, it’s the Fringe Fest. The time and energy needed to put together just one of the 169 productions is enormous, and it’s going to be gone in what really feels like the blink of eye. And most of it will never see the light of day again.

Ah, the dog days of summer! I’m grateful most theaters have extra-cold air conditioning.

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