I haven’t been in a performance of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind since the top of June–an absence of nearly five months, which is–as point of fact–longer than I took off from the show during the official sabbatical I took after my son was born. As I was observing the show on Sunday–a typical practice for a returning ensemble member–the audience member next to me turned and asked “Didn’t you used to be in this show?”
In my brief moment of mortal panic at the ephemeral nature of time and memory I defensively responded “I still am! I’m still in this show!”
Of course: That’s not true.
That show I saw last Sunday died at the end of an hour, and then the carcass was taken into the theater’s back office, where the skilled necromancers of the ensemble pulled a third of the menu apart and then went home with a mission to replace the discarded viscera with shiny new bionics and then bring the whole beast back to life on Tuesday. And I wasn’t in that show, and now I will never be in that show.
Of course: That’s not true, either.
Because the show doesn’t work without audience in the room, shouting for numbers, being pulled onstage, laughing or not laughing at the moments they chose, scratching their heads at other moments and despising other moments entirely. So I was in the show as it happened, and so was the person next to me, asking if I used to be in the show.
Which I wasn’t at that moment, and yet I was. I was Schrodinger’s Neo-Futurist. I was alive and dead at the same time.
This week’s show includes ten new plays and this weekend’s performances include a very special one-night-only Too Much Fright Makes The Baby Go Blind–30 plays about death and fear and dread and candy performed within an hour. And when that show ends, it too will die.
And you will have to consider the ramifications of what we mean when we call it “live” theatre.