Monday, June 1, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W22: A Fallen Fighter

I almost didn't post any of this. It all seems so meaningless, and everything feels so hopeless. The Black Lives Matter movement has been fighting for six years, a fight that has been treading the same infuriating ground for a century longer than that with the simple plea from black people: stop killing us. Recognize that we are human. Recognize that we matter.

And they're still getting killed. They're still getting murdered, treated with mistrust, given no dignity, no way to safely exist in the world. Lynchings are alive and well and flourishing in the U.S.

So who cares what theater I saw this past week. I honestly don't. I wrote it down, out of habit only. Right now I feel so hopeless about so many things. But because this past week Larry Kramer died, someone who continued to fight when everyone tried to shout him down, who fought for decades, I want to at least say this:

Last week we lost Larry Kramer, a titan of queer writing and activism. He stoked his rage in the inferno of the AIDS crisis, lived with HIV for decades, and survived liver disease and a transplant. He lived longer than statistics said he should have. He lived so long that I expected him to live forever, fueled by his anger at humanity's failings, a twin flame with his belief that there is that within us which can do better, which should do better, which must do better.

He wrote The Normal Heart after he was kicked out of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, an organization he helped found. It is a howling cry of anger, an extended wail of grief. It is also, if you pay attention, a demonstration that even at your most helpless and scared, you can try to do something. Raul Esparza pointed out during the 2004 Off-Broadway revival in which he starred, that it plays now like a Greek tragedy, the audience and players knowing now what none of the characters knew in the play: the name of the disease, the scope and danger of it, and that it still cuts a swath through underprivileged communities. When the play was again revived in 2011, this time on Broadway, Larry Kramer stood by the door, handing out flyers to exiting patrons, reminding them that the events of the play are true, that nearly every character depicted in The Normal Heart is now dead, and that the so far unwinnable fight against the ravages of AIDS continues. He handed out these flyers because he was still fighting, because he had never stopped fighting.

We didn't deserve a man like Larry Kramer, but he fought for us anyway. We didn't deserve him, but we can try to earn him.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Heart to Heart

I miss hugging
I miss pressing my heart to your heart
My ear to your shoulder
Wrapping my arms as far as they will go
Held tight in the wrap of your arms
I miss the hello hug
Immediate and warm, a smile
The goodbye
A squeeze before an exit, perfunctory but felt
The reunion hug, which can last for minutes
To make up for years
I text *hugs* to you
And wrap my arms around myself
Two stacked elbow vees, two hollow ropes
The arms wrap too much, too not ever enough
I roll my shoulders into it, curl my spine, I tuck my head
My heart reaches for your heart but all it hears is an echo
My blood pressure drops, my pulse races
An echo
An echo
I miss
An echo
I miss
Your heart

Monday, May 18, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W20: I finally went back to my spreadsheet

January 1-March 11 of 2020 I have logged twenty-four live theatrical experiences viewed. March 30-today I have an additional fifty-two streamed performances to add to that log: a mixture of archived filmed productions and televised performances, zoom readings of plays, remote concerts, and monologue plays. Some of the streaming content I'd seen before, either in person or at a previous broadcast; some of it's been brand new. None of it is the same as live theater. But, wow, if we had any doubt about my status as a theater junkie, I think that's been asked and answered.

Not much else to say. Nick Cordero is awake, a miracle. Watchlist and other theater developments below the cut:

Monday, May 11, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W19: Two Months

For not-on-Broadway New York theater community and its institutions, the death knells have begun. UCB closing was our first New York domino. Shetler is the second, followed only hours later by LIC's Secret Theatre. The longer this goes on (and prognosticators are saying not to expect theater to be safe any time this year, possibly even next year), more will fall. The pillars of low budget theater, the proving grounds for unknown performers, are beginning to collapse, and who knows if and when replacement scaffolding will be built. It's hard to hold onto optimism right now. While I love seeing theater companies find alternate performance venues online, and I've been trying to support them, one, I know the income they're generating doesn't match what they would make in the before times, and two, what will they find waiting for them when they're permitted to return?

Today is two months since Broadway's last performance. New York's state of emergency is extended to June 7th. For now.

This past week's watchlist and development summary below the cut: