|The closest I've come to Times Square since |
March 12th. Photo by Zelda Knapp.
Raise a glass for Terrence McNally, Mark Blum, Adam Schlesinger, William Wolf, Brian Dennehy, Shirley Knight, Peter Hunt, Bernard Gersten, Larry Kramer, Nick Cordero, Brent Carver, Howell Binkley, Herbert Kretzmer, Israel Horowitz, Ann Reinking, Rebecca Luker. For UCB, for Shetler Studios, for the Secret Theatre, for Simple Studios, for the Creek and the Cave. For Frozen and for Then She Fell.
Raise a glass for the fact that we still don't know when theater can safely return in the States, and what will be left of us when it does. (Also randomly, they never got around to having the Tony Awards, even though they released the nominations in October. The Obies, Drama Desks, Lortel, and Antonyo awards were either aired online or released as a list.)
So this is my year-end post, where I list the top shows I saw this year. What do I even write about? I saw 24 shows before the shutdown on March 12th. And then since then I've seen 173 streaming theater pieces (a mixture of archive recordings, formerly recorded broadcasts, quarantine bubble productions with no audience, zoom readings, and hybrid forms of theater and film) (also I have 3-4 items left on my to-watch list for this year). Some of it has been decidedly not good. Some of it has been wonderful, poignant and uplifting. None of it is the real thing, and I still ache at the memory of kinetic energy passing between an enthusiastic audience and a vibrant production. But it's been something. I keep thinking of AJ's speech in The American President:
People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.
Replace leadership with live theater and that's where I've landed. I've drunk some sand this year. But. It hasn't all been sand. And too much of my nature is geared toward finding a glimmer of gratitude within my grief. So I've made a list of what was special this year: a smaller one for the live theater, and the rest for what I watched online. You can expect my usual cheats to get in more than just a paltry "Top Ten." It's 2020, the worst year in many of our lives, and I want to remember as much joy as I can.
Godspeed, my loves. We'll be together again.