The play really begins the moment I get into my car.
Drive time as the pre-experience to curtain.
A crawling ant darting into unprotected lefts in rush hour.
The tenseness of the will-I-get-there-on-time.
The zen of the stop and start.
Sometimes the preshow is narrated by the Waze Lady or NPR or a chat with a friend who is also in a car heading for some show on what is always over-the-hill-from-where-we-are or the-other-side-of-town-from-where-we-live.
Sometimes serendipity blesses me with a friend in the general vicinity going to see the same play – a preshow carpool date.
In LA the going of seeing theater is a commitment beyond the “do I want to see this play” to the “do I want to see this play enough to brave rush hour to Atwater?”
Is it worth it?
Pssst. Hey Buddy. Let me tell you something. The it-doesn’t-need-to-be-a-secret secret of LA theater is that it’s overflowing with magic created a shoestring (or with shoestrings), daring and talent and yearning and staging that can make your core shake.
LA theater is surprise and smarts stuffed into black boxes – and hotel rooms and new apartment buildings, garages and metro cars. For a city that’s known to be focused on screens little and big, LA theater is the grasp of your hand in a lonely sea.
There are so many who have no idea what’s going in the theaters they drive by every day. There’s so many who have yet to discover even the major theaters if not the minors. There are so many who haven’t figured out where to do the drive to – so many who don’t know what’s worth it.
But for those who do the desire subsumes the slow jam of the getting there and the commitment to our community is re-iterated again and again as we converge in parking lots and on sidewalks and in lobbies. As we invite people who maybe don’t think of seeing a play as an option for their evening to join in the intimacy and the wonder and they do – and they vow to come back. Welcome.
There are evenings, yes, when I open the program to note the run time and laugh that it is shorter than what it took to get me there. There are evenings I can’t brave the drive and I don’t go and there are evenings when I can’t brave the drive and I do.
And in the end I sail towards home. Words of the stage resonating in my heart and head in the clear roads in the after of the night. I pull into my driveway but take a few more moments before I get out of my car. End of play.