an editorial by Kirby LindsayWith Moisture Festival in full swing, Fremont bears witness to the penultimate experience in live theater. In its 8th year, this Festival attracts high caliber performers from around the world, presenting a colorful cornucopia of creativity so diverse that descriptions fail to encompass the experience.
Meanwhile, across the neighborhood, Stone Soup Theatre will shortly present their annual play festival – this year a showcase of plays written and directed by women. For three weeks in April, audiences can experience a collection of short works that range in perspective, subjects and the actors performing them.
These festivals – one vaudevillian and one straight scripted theater – perfectly contrast the wonders of live theater. All year round Fremont – and Seattle – offer opportunities to see creativity in action and nothing can compare, or replace, these experiences. Step in a theater and share – with the performers, the producers and the rest of the audience – what is, no matter if it is scripted, a unique moment. And nothing will bring it back, once missed.
Lost Opportunities, Forever
Theaters often decorate their lobbies, halls and even restrooms with posters from past productions. While theater staff may see these as proud symbols of achievement, for this audience member they often inspire feelings of frustration and regret.
Stone Soup has on display a poster from their 5 x Tenn production. As a huge Tennessee Williams fan, I’d noticed the posters when the show was at the theater, but I felt too busy to attend, oblivious to the obvious - Williams’ short works rarely get produced on stage.
That poster taunts me, as did several that once decorated the Empty Space Theatre lobby when they were in Fremont. The one for Rocky Horror Show particularly grated. I did, eventually, see it staged at the 5th Avenue Theatre, and yet, as much as I enjoyed the production – and doing the “Time Warp” with my sister – it isn’t the same as having seen it produced in a smaller, and deliberately provocative, theater.
I do take joy in the numerous shows I have attend – whether they gave great pleasure, moderate enjoyment, or intense, hair-tearing boredom. All contribute to magical memories, and singular experiences never to be recreated or recaptured.
Artistic License, Screw-Ups, and Inspiration
The door was supposed to open. I knew the door was supposed to open because I’d sat in on a rehearsal of Fool For Love at Stone Soup. I also knew that, until the door opened – somehow – this performance would not end and no one could leave…including the audience, and me. The actor finally broke a fake window and engineered a semi-sort-of exit. To their credit, the skilled cast managed to pull the audience back to the play, for its final, brutal moments.
During a very early performance of Wuthering! Heights! The! Musical!, at Empty Space, Burton Curtis (as Heathcliff) fell down the stairs. Catching up with Curtis days later, I asked about his recovery and he admitted he was fine – but the director liked the effect so much that Curtis continued to fall down the stairs, incurring a few bumps and bruises, during the rest of the play’s run.
Swapping stories with others who’ve attended a Moisture Festival performance can elicit hundreds of precious moments – and slowly reveal which were carefully orchestrated, and choreographed, blunders, and which were not. MF performers often incorporate flubbed lines, failed musical cues and faulty props into their humor. Although, the same performers – be they aerialists, jugglers, clowns, bubble-blowers or contortionists – can also be thrown off-script by practical jokes played by fellow performers…or the band.
Where Did It Go?
The strongest lure of live theater – and its inherent flaw - is its temporary nature. It cannot be replicated. Television, movies and YouTube will never capture the immediacy of being a witness to a singular, spontaneous moment in time. Even reality television isn’t reality – it’s taped, and edited, in advance. Unfortunately, live theater cannot be programmed to happen on our personal timetable.
Once missed, each performance will never appear again in the same way. Grab them while you still have a chance…
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- Live Theater In A Lively Museum
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- Red and Her Pigs At The Palladium
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- A Wealth Of Original Plays, And Playwrights, At Stone Soup
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 10, 2010
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.