Thursday, February 7, 2008

You Can't Go Home Again

The other night, I tried to go home again. I went to an opening night at a theatre I worked at for several years, a place I basically lived, breathed and slept for the better part of a decade. For a number of reasons, both personal and professional, I’ve largely separated myself from it. Recently I’ve tried reconnecting and I’ve realized that that isn’t really possible.

A play is an ephemeral thing, and there’s something about the relationships you forge in theatre that can have the same quality. When you’re working together, it’s so all-encompassing: making the play is all that’s happening in the world. But when it’s over, you go your separate ways until you work together again. Working in a theatre can be the same experience. The turnover rate, between interns, staff members, associated artists, company members, what-have-you, is so high that every couple of years, the theatre is a whole new organization.

That’s what it felt like on Monday night. I walked into a place that had been my home and found new people there. New kinds of work, different priorities and values. This isn’t a knock on the show (though I had some concerns) but the biggest thing for me was this: it wasn’t a show that I would have ever produced. In almost every way. I’ve seen other shows at this theatre that I wasn’t involved in, but I’d never felt such a huge disconnect between the kind of work I do and the work that they’re doing.

It was a profoundly isolating experience. Even more isolating that the usual feeling of going to someone else’s cast party. I always feel out of place, drinking and partying with people who are celebrating something that I’ve had no part in. This was worse because my connection to the theatre had once been so strong. But things change.

No grand point about theatre here, just a personal observation. I’ll get back to the ranting soon…

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