Thursday, August 28, 2014

Going to Live Theater is Such a Pain in the Ass, and Wilbo Can't Keep Himself Away from the Footlights.

Thursday night has always meant theater if I could find it. Finding theater in Detroit became simple. I could open the Metro Times and read listings from Meadowbrook Theater in Rochester to a theater in a condominium near the Ambassador Bridge. I love little better than finding a new theater space and taking in a show. The more unusual the venue, the more I liked it. My favorite spot, the Planet Ant of Hamtramck, presented plays in the first level of a three story tenement. I had drinks with the actors and owner of the house once, sitting in couches on the third and highest floor.

In Muskegon, I can bing on theater if I drive into Grand Rapids. That racks up about a hundred miles in a single evening. In Summertime, it's easier to drive up to the Summer Theater festival in Whitehall, Michigan. The six or seven plays each summer vary widely in quality. Tonight I was pretty thrilled by a presentation of Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap". Couldn't help but remember a Meadowbrook Theater production with a much cleaner set of production values, from costuming to the ability to hear every line.

One night last season, I moved to the balcony after intermission because I refused to leave the play. However, I wished to move further from it. It wasn't a bad production. I just couldn't achieve lift off. Lift off means I have total buy-in into the story and characters. Until I achieve lift off, my fidgeting is a huge annoyance to myself. Often, I attend alone to spare a companion from my constant movement until the play seduces me, mesmerizes me. This fidgeting once attracted the attention of a local producer who found me after the play and insisted on explaining the production values to me. I thanked her and then wondered if the Muskegon theater was too intimate.

No matter how good the play, I have to visit the concession stand for stimulants, to bank up glucose for the second part, usually a Coke and a Hershey Chocolate bar. Then visit the loo whether I need to or not. I dread nothing more than a play that lures me in only to announce, "The play will proceed without an intermission". It frightens me. I wonder if I'll be able to make it through the ninety minutes to two hour traffic of the stage. That never seems to happen at the Howmet up in Whitehall, where the intermissions look like a community picnic, celebrated on the patio, surrounded on three sides by thick stucco walls. The whole ritual on the patio charms me although I can never enjoy the evening sunlight with a beer or a glass of Chardonnay to catch the glinting rays of sunlight. The City of Whitehall owns the Howmet Theater and has saw fit to abstain from approving a liquor license. 

I'll admit it. I'm an actor with conservatory training and little to show but a few indie film roles for my training. I'm a constant writer and yet the idea of drama causes me panic. So I keep seeing plays and talking to actors until I get courage to try more.

Until then, I'll see you at the footlights.
 —  at Hennessy's Pub 

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