Already today the wood stage floor is bare. The seats are folded up and sequestered under their protective cloth tarps. The set has been taken down, and the dressing room tables - which were full of makeup and jewelry and hairspray just last evening -have been cleared off entirely. The whole theater has a distinct quietness about it.
I know this because I was just there this afternoon - stopping in to pick up something that I'd left behind after last night's final performance. I say "final performance" as if it was a long running play - it ran, in fact, for only two nights; we had Opening Night, and then we had Closing Night. That's it; all done.
But ah, what a glorious two nights it was! To watch everyone and everything come together this past week was nothing short of wonderful. Rehearsals were enjoyed by all as we stayed and watched each other put on our one-act performances, cheered each other on and laughed at all the funny, funny moments delivered so well by some of the finest local talent around. Many sentiments of "Great job!" and "Break a leg!" were heard each weeknight as we came together in preparation for opening night on Friday. There was a definite excitement in the air.
Finally, Opening Night arrived. And what we once knew as just a rehearsal stage with empty seating became alive as the padded chairs started to fill with a real audience, and as we peformers heard how many minutes to showtime, all the while bustling behind the curtains backstage trying not to be seen by the paying guests.
8:00 came, and the stage was ours to transform. And transform we did. For two and a half hours on that one square wooden floor, the audience got to visit 4 different habitats. The main stage became a king's castle with its three-story princess tower; then a high rise New York City apartment, then an experiment room that kept three human subjects locked in, and finally a front porch to a halfway house (which, as one of the characters stated, was really halfway to nowhere).
I soaked it all up. I took it all in. It was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever been a part of. And I was amazed at what an audience and a little imagination can drum up. Laughter, entertainment, deep meaning and sheer wit make for a wonderful night where the outside world can be dimmed and quieted for a little while, and the only thing that matters is what's happening right in front of your very eyes.
We had Opening Night; then we had Closing Night. Just two performances. Show's over- everyone's gone home. But for those of us who were part of it, the memories will last a long time.
To anyone walking across that now-empty stage this afternoon, it would have looked like nothing more than just a polished wood floor with some chairs on either side. But not to me. I know better. I now know that it can be more; so much more. I guess that's the magic of theater.