The above is a sideview photo of our local theater. It's a live theater not a movie theater. And I'm so tickled that we have one right here on the island. To be honest, we have thus far only seen one production. It was of 'The Christmas Carol' and it was excellent. But just knowing it's there and well attended is enough for me.
There is something very special about live theater. There is some chemistry or electricity between the actors and the audience that doesn't happen with film. There is an unspoken agreement between both parties, you are a team, you are part of the story, helping it to unfold in a quiet, behind the scenes sort of way. I am captivated, time is suspended I have to remind myself to breathe now and again.
Whereas, when I watch a movie, it just kind of washes over me. First of all, I can walk in and out of the room at will, if I miss any part of the movie, I can back up and see it again. I can watch the film over and over if I wish. It's not unusual for me to be multi-tasking while watching a movie at home. I might be folding towels, ironing, talking with Tim or IM-ing with a friend or I might even be playing a game on my tablet. Not so with a play. Any live performance is lightening in a bottle. It's a moment captured in time and unless it is filmed, it cannot be recreated in exactly, precisely the same way twice no matter how hard a person may try. So I do not want to miss a single precious second.
The worst secondary activity you might catch me doing watching a play, is singing along if it's a musical. But I know the words, I do it very quietly and hit all the right notes or so I justify it to myself.
I count as live theater not just plays, but concerts, ballets, symphonies and yes, recitals and school plays,by the way. Tim and I recently had the pleasure of seeing the musical 'Grease' performed by our oldest niece's school. Those kids were having a blast. And their good time radiated out into the audience. I assume you know the story (is there anyone who doesn't?) We could not help but smile as Rizzo sneered her way through "Sandra Dee" and Danny and the boys strutted across the stage as they sang 'Greased Lightening'. The girl who played Sandy had a clear, beautiful voice that Olivia Newton John would have been happy to hear.
The stage wasn't on Broadway by a long shot and the set designs only hinted at the intended background scene. Some of the dancers were quite good some were most decidedly not. Some of the singers had serious chops and others stumbled around trying to find their key. But the sincerity of the work and the dedication of the kids and their director was never in question. We loved it.
I have a long history of attended amateur productions or one sort of another. Somehow I often had "artsy" friends. They were either the actors, the dancers, the singers or the backstage people. I am none of the above. But I'm a great audience. My sister was a dancer. She loved being on stage and she was good at it. I sat through and was delighted by many of her recitals and plays.
Youngest son was another one who was not shy about being center stage. In fact, after his first time of being front and center (primary school at the time), his brothers and I went backstage to congratulate him and one of the other boys asked him 'weren't you nervous?". "Nope" he whooped and leaped into the air with excitement, "I loved it!" And it was that excitement that translated to the audience and captured the eye of everyone watching.
Now me, not so much. I don't really like being the center of attention. I'm uncomfortable with people noticing me. I've done it. I've played both violin and piano on stage. Hated it every single time. I love making music, just not under those conditions. When I was in college I took a course in public speaking. I got credit for it and hoped to help improve my self-consciousness to boot. I do not think it helped me at the time but I remembered those lessons when I was called upon many years later to do some public speaking. I even got pretty good at it. But it's still not my most comfortable thing.
There may be an alternate world Sam who is a star of stage and screen and loves every moment in the spotlight. But this world Sam is far happier being in the audience. I'm really, really good at that. It's important to know who you are. I am an audience member. I'm polite, I don't talk during the show. I applaud at the right places, I don't use my phone. And I drink it in. I love every single solitary moment of every production.
I am audience. Hear me clap.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.