GOING INTO THE THEATER

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GOING INTO THE THEATER

WHAT IT CAN MEAN

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The first Theater I ever entered was the old Metropolitan Opera House.

I WAS A CHILD IN FLIGHT. I YEARNED FOR AN ALTERNATE REALITY. I NEEDED A NARNIA.    OR A HOGWARTS.

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FROM THE OUTSIDE, IT LOOKED LIKE A BUILDING. BUT NOT AT NIGHT.

OR ANOTHER MOTHER.

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IT WAS THEATER OF ARRIVALS.

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IT WAS THEATER OF SELF-IMAGE , AND SELF-IMAGINING.

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It was closely hung with photographs        of the stars.

THE BOX OFFICE LOBBY WAS A THEATER IN ITSELF.

I had seen photographs in magazines idealizing their subjects. I had seen televised political conventions. I had seen my mother pretending she was normal.

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They were not candid photos, but        posed and framed to present singers        in a character of their own devising,        as they wished to be seen and imagined.

They were manufactured realities that revealed truths.

I was accustomed to manufactured realities.

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THERE WERE MANY THEATERS IN THAT SINGLE SPACE.

The box office windows, also framed – one shut and barred to me,        one open and bustling with unmanufactured reality. The glistening locked vitrines framing the operas being performed that week. The arches and doors which either led nowhere or somewhere deeper in this suddenly huge construct of alternate realities.

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The elaborate retreating moldings on the ceiling, each framing the next, all of them framing an immense source of light. The squares on the floor echoing the closely hung photos on the wall.  I could stand on any one of them and be framed myself.                                                  And perhaps the person who would save me would see me,       as I wished to be seen, or        imagined.

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THEN THE THEATER OF THE THEATER ITSELF.

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It was a dusky gold Fabergé egg that would reveal its secrets. It had hidden birds that would speak their truths. A thousand lights that would dim to hold those revelations safe. A massive curtain that would rise and make two spaces one, each with its secrets – to make the sharing of those secrets for everyone, but somehow also confidential. Long lit garden pathways leading towards a half-hidden bowl of gold and brass and polished wood instruments. Each box and tier was a stage, a drama of expectation in which the characters yearned for something – something that might jar their heartbreak , relieve them of the burden of the unsayable, bear witness for them.

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OR SO I IMAGINED, LOOKING AROUND AT THEM.

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Did they feel as I did? They seemed ready to hear. I wanted to tell somebody what was happening to me. If I told them my story, would they listen?

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THEN THE CURTAIN ROSE AND TERRIBLE SECRETS CAME OUT.

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https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6BCn4YCpQn7PZOfkUYBeQD

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DON     GIOVANNI

SEXUAL ASSAULT MURDER PHYSICAL ABUSE DESIRE LOVE ANGER

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IT WAS THEN THAT I REALLY WENT INTO THE THEATER.

I understood completely. This was the scale of my experience,      and of my feelings. I went into the stage house.   Only my body went back to      my mother's house. I stayed forever when the curtain fell. I realized I could survive there.

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YEARS LATER I REALIZED HOW I HAD BEEN WATCHING THAT NIGHT.

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I was sitting at an angle in the back of the auditorium, on the left side of the house, so the proscenium was – from my view – center.   That joiner of the two worlds was dead center.  On one side there were people bent forward and crying out, and on the other there were people bent forward and listening. My view was of both.  Where the people met the play were my lines of engagement.

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YEARS LATER, INSIDE THE PROSCENIUM OF THE NEW MET, I TOLD WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO ME, MY STORY.

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I CAN NEVER BE ENTIRELY SURE, BUT I THINK IT IS ABOUT FORGIVENESS.

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AND THIS IS HOW I SHALL CROSS BACK OVER THE LINES OF ENGAGEMENT AFTER I DIE.  WHERE THE PEOPLE MET THE PLAY.

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