Throughout the Summer of 2000 the stage has been dark at the 92 Theatre as Wesleyan students spread out across the country, across the world, vacationing, working, studying or just plain relaxing. But, during those hot summer months, if one were to open the doors of the theatre and listen patiently it might be possible to hear voices, perhaps even dialogs of yesterday's dramas. It is possible, you know . . .
But now that summer vacation is done the shadowy stage slowly begins to glow as overhead, incandescent floodlights bring dormant sets back to life.
From darkness the set emerges out of its cocoon; our eyes focus on the props at stage left.
A board squeeks as a new director walks across the floor to meet with his troop of actors and actresses and rehersal begins again. The script book is opened; it is time to prepare for Sam Shepherd's "Icarus's Mother."
The cast: Lara Wulsin, Michael Bodel, Owen Panettieri, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Amy Eng cross the floor to the stage. Director J. Bajir Cannon opens his copy of the script and nods to his stage manager Kasa Newman and assistant stage manager Becca Smith.
The troopers quickly take their places, the director nods, and the rehersal begins.
Lara looks into the darkness of the backstage and seems to see a figure. Or are there more than one? For a moment the nearest form is unfamiliar, something perhaps out a mythology of bygone ages. But then she blinks and that shape transmogrifies into the personage of a fellow actor. She smiles, laughing at herself and wondering who she thought that other shape might have been.
Start now. Quickly, lest the moment fade - the inspiration bleed away. It is our time. Now!
It has begun, the new play, following in the tradition of many others. The actors words echo slightly from dark walls and the reverberation of those words, if only for a moment, seems to bring back dialogues of other voices, from distant times.
Yet, those echoes fade, as does the shadowy figures in the background. New voices takeover the stage, overwhelming the memories of yesterday. Now! Now is the time of youth, the "rebirth of wonder" as young voices search to find an expression of their own. The ghosts still linger, but move deeper into the shadows - now listening, watching, reminising . . . "We are your friends, your colleagues" they seem to whisper. But, is there not also some hint of envy in those faded voices? . . .
And so the contest begins - new voices replacing old . . . the past, the present . . . There is not space enough for both in the universe as we know it - one must give way to the other. . . one must dominate, the other receed.
The actors struggle to find their "voices" to bring life to the characters they play, to make the stage their own . . .
First laughter cracks the air. The battle is won. The stage - the world is ours . . .
The past fades into memory as a new world comes into being . . .
"Let's try it again, from the top," commands the director.
They dissolve then, into the walls, those spirits, not gone, still remembered, still loved, but sentient memories, seeing once more through new eyes, as the play to be goes on . . .
END OF ACT ONE
ACT TWO: RENOVATIONS
The second act might open, several days later, with a construction crane hovering over the theatre waiting to begin renovations to the old building whose skin is coming apart. And so James hurries inside with camera trying to "save" the artifacts of yesterday. But it's hard to know, coming into a place that isn't one's own, what is important and what isn't. What parts of this place are steeped in the most memories? But whose memories of what? And as a memory is changed when a building is renovated, what is removed? Or added? Will the changes become "memories yet to be" for someone else?
Time will tell as the empty theatre waits for its audience . . .
Standing there alone, on stage, looking out at the chairs who, themselves,
are waiting for their audience it is obvious that there is nothing much
here in this place. It is only a hall, devoid of meaning until the creative
spirit of the players, writers, directors and technicians, together with
the audience makes it something more. Then this space can be anywhere in
the universe, and beyond. . .
PRESS HERE TO RETURN TO A SHOP FOR DREAMERS
LINK TO WESLEYAN THEATRE PROGRAM: