Two years ago I was about to retire from Federal employment, when a colleague (we shall call him "William") asked me what I would do with my new free time. "I'd like to do what you do," I answered. You see, William was a bit of legend in the local theater community, constructing sets and doing stage crew for several theater groups in the metropolitan area. I had done some performing on stage in the past but never any of the backstage chores that are needed to make a stage production fly. Getting back with theater in ways that didn't involve memorizing lines or wearing make-up or other stressful activities seemed appealing. I figured William might know a good local theater group I could connect with, and soon he put me in touch with David Levin of RLT. A couple of weeks later I was working sound execution for a production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
One night after a performance of CHTR I ran into an old friend who had just seen the show and was unaware of my new connection to RLT. "My daughter just moved to Houston," she said. "I told her that when you move to a new place, link up with a theater group to meet new people because they are always friendly and a lot of fun." Now, this had never occurred to me, mostly because I don't have kids and haven't moved to a new surrounding since 1972. Mostly I got involved with theater to see shows for free. But she was right. Theater people are friendlier and more fun than your average citizen. They also tend to be more creative, resourceful, and sometimes goofy. You tend not to recognize then as extraordinary people because they look like the rest of us.
Last year I was part of the stage crew on "Go Back for Murder," an Agatha Christie mystery which had some complicated scene changes. We needed to send the stage twenty years back in time and then back to the present for the finale. It occurred to me that by making this magic happen, I was performing, but aided by the surrounding darkness and black clothing, I was invisible. I was part of the action on stage but my performance was like that of a ghost or a guardian angel. What appears on stage is the distillation of a lot of time and energy and problem solving, only some of which involves the movement and conversation of the actors on stage. It's all magic and it's all fun. And sometimes you don't have to wear makeup or memorize lines.
"I told her that when you move to a new place, link up with a theater group to meet new people because they are always friendly and a lot of fun."
Big Daddy and Maggie from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 2014