The Most Profound Theatrical Event I Ever Experienced:  Or,  Kids Being Shot 4 Minutes Away.

 

 

I sat down to take in a matinee of Imagine: a Beatles Celebration at the Broward Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, Florida directed, conceived and directed by Kevin Black. I expected a show that was fit for a cruise ship production. I love this particular theatre space. It holds so many memories. I was going back to see live theatre at the old Holiday Springs Twin Cinema where I went as a kid 40 years ago. I used to party in the ample parking areas during my high school years. I also failed my first driving test in this same lot. I wasn’t expecting much from the show, but I was looking forward to hearing anything from The Beatles. I grew up with them. My Mom loved the early Beatles. I didn’t know there was a “later” Beatles until I discovered it and LSD in college at The New World School of the Arts. 

It was a lively audience of elderly people bussed in from a 100-year-old plus, age-restricted community.  The show starts, the lyrics, as an adult really stand out and mean much more as a supposed “grown up” and not on acid. Twenty minutes in, we are all enjoying ourselves, when I feel my spine pulsing, like the puddle in Jurassic Park as the dinosaur approaches. I realize it is helicopters flying really close. In NYC you can feel the subway below you in certain spaces. This was very similar but from above.  I next hear a barrage of sirens. The cast is singing about peace and the irony doesn’t fall on deaf ears, although I suspect much of the audience might have been.

At the interval, everyone’s smartphones blow up with notifications of the school shooting 4 minutes away. We know there are causalities and at the time we were told 37 people are suffering gun-related injuries with multiple casualties. The number is changing minute by minute.

The second act begins, and dynamically the show allows us an appropriately played section of arrangements more somber in tone. They stop dancing and just sit around with a guitar and start singing Lennon/ McCartney lyrics, they included Ringo for one hot second. Poor Ringo.  We know people are being shot as we sit there. It is clear the cast knows about was happening  4 minutes away for the atmosphere in the room is different. It is very sober in tone. Listening to these lyrics as a school was being shot up so close made the lyrics stand out so profoundly. As the actor’s guitar gently wept so did we. Yesterday was met with a wall of tears and by the time we heard the first note of Imagine, there is a gasp in the crowd ( they weren’t deaf) as if we weren’t prepared to hear it. Some of the audience kept phones on, and I can hear elderly patrons relating the new fatality stats into their aged partner’s good ear. It felt like we had seatbelts on.

When Imagine started, I actually closed my eyes in tears and listened to the directive in the lyrics. I imagined as vividly in my head everything Lennon suggested. The song will not remain the same for any of us in that space. My history there grows longer and more unique as the years roll by.

Peter Brook clearly stated that the base requirements for a theatrical event are an empty space, a spectator, and an audience. Our angry world crossed the empty space today. 

Update: 15 people shot dead.

Listen to the lyrics, and do what he says, if only just 194 seconds, or the time that 194 bullets can be shot in.

https://youtu.be/VOgFZfRVaww

Lyrics

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

Songwriters: John Winston Lennon
Imagine lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

Our new Valentine’s Day Massacre.

I am going to go listen to Blackbird on a loop.

Update: 17 people shot dead. 

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