Something is wrong with this chair. Lately stories won’t come to it. Lately all I think about are plays. Plays I’m writing, plays I’m directing, plays I’m reading, plays I’ve been watching. How they work and why they don’t work and what to do to make them work better.
Outside the window, a man is walking past in a suit with a red tie. Is it that warm? Yesterday at this time I looked out at snow on the roof. I tried to think of a story that had happened the day before. I wrote about watching Beth’s show open to a standing ovation. Yes it was probably a lot of friends, but they didn’t have to stand. Or did they? I love watching standing ovations from the back of the theatre. Some people shoot up immediately. Others follow quickly, like “Yes, yes, me too.”
Next are people who seem to realize everyone else is standing and they ought to as well. Once on their feet, they become part of a fleeting community celebrating performer and audience and the show they’ve created by being together.
There’s a final group, my favorite people to watch. Their immobile backs clearly state that they’re not going to get up just because everyone else is. They wait for spouses and friends to come to their senses and realize that sitting and clapping is praise enough for anyone.
Of that sensible group, a few inevitably peel off and get to their feet. They become, inflation-wise, part of the problem. The lonely few remain, hanging to their original measure of praise. And somehow they look suddenly like people who didn’t enjoy the show very much.
This is a chair that many have stuck to, especially on hot summer days. It’s leather, allegedly, but not thick durable leather. It’s mostly cracked and flaking, especially at the top, where shoulder blades dig in, and whence a ripping sound issues when you peel yourself or your tee-shirt away. There are of course people who can’t stand, or people whose limbs require that they take a while to do so. It’s silly to over-generalize. But that’s the story from the back of the theatre. And lately, theatre is all I seem to think about.