I didn’t know that I love plays in general and musicals in particular until Pam and I started dating. My family did many great things, I just don’t remember going to many plays or musicals. Maybe we did and I simply don’t remember it. I do remember dove hunting, fishing, going to Rocket Speedway to watch races (I still have floating around in my head a great/disturbing image of the thrown up remnants of a hotdog eating context in a Rocket Speedway tub urinal), every now and then watching tractor pulls, and going to lots of my football and baseballs games, but not plays or musicals. So when I learned that Pam loved theater, I, therefore, went with her to various plays. I was going because she wanted to do but what I discovered by going with her was that I really like plays also. I still love hunting, fishing, and old cars – tractor pulls aren’t really my thing anymore, but I also now love plays and musicals.
The result is that we regularly go to plays and musicals as a family. Since my mother has moved up here to Wisconsin we’ve gone to “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” by UWSP (great performance but I wouldn’t recommend the play – amazingly depressing) in October, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” by the Wausau campus of UWSP (good performance and very fun musical) in December, and next month we’ll see an Broadway touring company performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” (where upon I will walk around singing and shimmying “tradition” and “if I were a rich man” – yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum).
Last, night we went with my mother to the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee put on by the Wausau campus of UWSP and I was pulled into the play as a spectator. I was given the word “cenacle” which means “1. a group of people, such as a discussion group or literary clique. 2. the room in which the Last Supper was held.” I would have missed the word anyway, I have always been a terrible speller, but the second Jesus was mentioned all I could think of was “synagogue” and that tainted any chance I had of spelling “cenacle” correctly. We love going to UWSP’s plays, their theater department is truly wonderful. Before last night we had never been any of the performances of the much smaller Wausau campus . They did a very nice job last night.
I think the reason I like theater so much is because ultimately the crowd is always a part of the play. Some plays such as “Spelling Bee” purposefully involve the crowd while others like “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” don’t. Still the audience affects the performance. A good audience energizes the play. There is a difference between the performance of actors with a good crowd and a bad crowd. The performance of the actors in a movie are the same whether there is an audience in the room or not. My experience in a cinema is with a crowd that’s into the film is often better, but realistically the audience doesn’t connect with the performers at all because that isn’t possible with film. It is with theater. This is probably why I love singing with other people in church but don’t really care about listening to “worship” music on my own – or when I do I enjoy doing so it is because it reminds me of singing with others. May also be why I’m not a big fan of video church. The connection matters.
Anyhow I would encourage everyone to go to a play. It is a wonderful way to spend the evening.