Now let me start off by saying this. I knew before I moved to New York that it was a land filled with hobos, shenanigans, skyscrapers, and magick. I was also aware that theatre can happen any time, any place as long as there was someone with that spark running about to put on a show. Neither of these facts prepared me for the pure unadulterated awesomeness that was my Friday night in Central Park.
Were you aware that, throughout the summer, the Public Theatre puts on Shakespeare and Sondheim shows? In the middle of Central Park? Adjacent to the Museum of Natural History? For fucking FREE?!
If you were not aware, don’t worry. I didn’t find out until just this past weekend. If you were and you didn’t tell me, our friendship is temporarily on hold until I finish boiling over with hatred. This, too, shall pass…painfully…with many long lasting scars across my heart…
My cousin Crystal, due to some pretty awesome connections, was able to get a tiny group of us tickets for a Friday night performance. She explained it to me last Wednesday in a rush and half in Sign Language. “Oh, by the way Brogan, you’re coming with me on Friday night to see some Shakespeare in Central Park. I got you a ticket a while ago, but I didn’t know if you would be free. So yeah…meet me there around 7.”
I love my cousin to death, and I am always down for a night of theatre, so of course I said I was in. There I was expecting some community theatre kind of deal. Such a fool was I.
Crystal, for all of her many talents and downright awe inspiring qualities, is not a huge theatre buff. So when I asked her what it is we were going to see, I got a response along the lines of “It’s some Shakespeare play I’ve never heard of. ‘In the Woods’ or something like that. I’ve seen a lot of Shakespeare, and I haven’t heard of this one before, so I figured it would be exciting.”
The play? Into the Woods, a really fun Sondheim. Being one of my favorites, I only got more excited. I’m not huge on Shakespeare, but a wordy musical will always set my face into a big silly grin.
After worrying about whether or not the outdoor play would even go on (due to some really heavy pre-show downpours), we were all finally allowed into the theatre. As soon as I laid my eyes on the set, I threw all of my initial thoughts of a mediocre production away. This thing looked like the most badass tree fort I’ve ever seen. It took everything within me not to run up and start playing on the stage. Think Swiss Family Robinson but more compact and infinitely more fun.
This production was absolute magick. In front of my eyes, I saw modernized adaptations of older stories spring to life. The members of the cast made manifest a hag witch, a singing wolf, an animated cow, a beanstalk rising into the sky, and a giantess. My favorite was the giantess who lurched into view, face and hands, all operated by what looked to be at least five or six different people. It was stunning to watch.
The storminess of the evening only added to the experience. The damp, cool air kept me in a constant state of goose-bumps and chills. Lightning flashed in the distance creating once in a lifetime natural lighting effects. Nobody will ever see that exact opening sequence again…not with that lighting. Be jealous!
Even the after storm breeze touched the production. The stage was founded on a forest floor, so the tiniest wind stirred the leaves into a dance around the actors. Every single moment was bliss to me.
In all this time we’ve spent together, dear reader, I don’t think I’ve ever actually explained to you why it is I love theatre so much. This is why. For two hours or so, an entirely new world is projected into our lives from a stage. It gives us warmth, makes us laugh, brings out our tears, stills us to silence, and electrifies the air. For two short hours, performers pour everything they have into creating an intangible but entirely palpable bubble of artistry into which both they and the audience can escape. Once the show is over, once the audience leaves for the night, that bubble will pop and can never be seen again. No two performances are ever the same. Each and every one is an active, living, breathing, fleeting piece of magick that can only be held for so long.
I will never stop loving theatre. Whether I am on stage or in the audience, I will always choose to be a part of such a magickal thing.
Life is beautiful today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I will. Happy Monday Fun Day, everyone.