Sunday, September 12th, 2010...6:45 pm

#152: Tear Up Those Theatre Tickets

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flickr-295119364-imageIt pains me to come clean about this, since, as a cultured person who cares about the future of art and wants to protect the finer entertainments — museums, the symphony, poetry, for Christ’s sake — against the onslaught of hip hop performances and monster truck rallies…..wait a minute, what was I trying to say?

Oh right: I feel like a shithead for ragging on the theatre.  The theatre is good.  The theatre is noble.  Noel Coward, Shakespeare, all the way back to those ancient Greek guys whose names I can never really keep straight: They all believed in the theatre, and therefore so should I.

Not liking the theatre is akin to not liking Mozart, or Picasso, to not appreciating a fine burgundy or understanding why Howard’s End is a brilliant novel.

And I do like the theatre — no, I love the theatre, truly honestly love it — about once every ten times I go.  Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge, with Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson, was absolutely mesmerizing last winter, and I’m not only saying that because my friend Jeffrey produced it.

The other nine times, I find myself sitting there thinking: Oh no, I have to go to the bathroom.  How am I going to get out of here if I have to go to the bathroom?  Will they let me back in?  I can wait.  I think I can wait.  But I’m going to have to get right into the bathroom the second intermission starts.  How am I going to get to the bathroom before there’s an endless line?  If I told everyone there was an emergency, would they let me go first?

Shit, what’s happening on stage?  I kind of lost the thread.  This guy’s head is in my way.  Why does that person keep coughing?  I wish I had remembered to bring my binoculars; I can’t really see the actors’ faces.  Who plays the mother again?  Oh no, I think I really have to go to the bathroom….

The only really positive thing about going to the theatre these times is that it makes me feel positively youthful.  I am often one of the youngest people in the audience, and since I live near New York, we’re talking Broadway audience, several hundred people.  Even when the play is hip, avant garde, with young stars and young themes, you look around in the seats and everybody is old, old, old.

I guess this is partly because the theatre is expensive. But in the world of $14 mojitos, sold out online ticket sales and $865 Alexander Wang bags, that shouldn’t be a barrier, if the theatre had what young people want.

It’s cheering on one level that a play like Green Day’s American Idiot, which features punk music and exploding televisions and a cast energetic enough to light the Great White Way on their adrenalin alone, could be such a big hit.  I was dancing in my seat, along with a lot of the other white haired people in the audience.  But my 16-year-old son?  He was snoring.

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