Daughter Connie reports she has been involved in the community theatre in her town. She says she played Lazarus and where she was dragged across the stage and then miraculously arose from the dead. I like to think I inspired her interest in the theatre.
In the 1960s, when I was a Scout Leader, I had my girls (including Connie) work on their Drama badge. This meant taking my troop (with help from other parents) to many productions, including plays and symphonies. As luck would have it, one of my parents was a member of the US Air Force Band and got tickets for our troop to attend the annual Christmas concert held at the DAR Hall. Another parent was an actor with a local community theatre group who landed bit parts in various films made here in DC (like No Way Out with Kevin Costner.) We attended several productions including musicals by her group which operated out of Fort Belvoire.
Looking at Shirley Valentine memorabilia (Photo credit: wallygrom)
In the 1970s, I held season tickets to every theatre that mattered in DC at the time including the Hartke Theatre at Catholic U where Alan Alda got his start, as well as several commercial venues including the National Theatre and the Kennedy Center. To complement my theater-going experiences, I took several continuing education courses in play writing and theater, offered at Georgetown U. In one course we focused on the new women playwrights of the time like the author of The Heidi Chronicles. Eventually, I was able to see these plays in a theater production and/or film.
I was a serious theater goer. In the 1980s, after I married David I began traveling to NYC to see various productions. When I was on one of my many business trips to NYC, I always took in a play or two. One evening I attended the theater in NYC wearing athletic shoes (I had been walking all day and went straight to the theater), a fact not overlooked by the members of the “dressed in their best evening attire for a night on the town” crowd.
When Cats came to DC, we could not get tickets, and David said, to heck with this..he got tickets for the NYC production with the original cast, and we flew there for the weekend. Those were the days.
When I went to work for the government in the 1990s, I discovered my boss was a big opera fan (he had an Aida poster on his door). I had been buying season tickets for the opera (held at the Kennedy Center) since the 1980s, so we had much in common. Later in the decade, I traveled to Spain, and while dining in Seville on the best calamari I have ever eaten, my kids and I heard Carmen playing from a nearby factory.
In the 2000s, when we visited Aunt Marge in Sheboygan, she always had tickets to one of the local theaters for one play or another. One year it was Driving Miss Daisy, another year was Trip to Bountiful, another year an older actor from the Carol Burnett Show doing a standup routine who entertained us badly. Marge’s neighbor, Susie, a retired producer from NYC always went along and offered her criticisms of these “second-rate” productions.
Somewhere along the line, David lost interest in the theater and opera and we fell off the wagon, so to speak. When he fell asleep during The Bartered Bride staged at the Kennedy Center Opera House, I decided enough was enough. Those tickets were too pricy for napping. After that, I cancelled all the theater tickets, and I haven’t been to a play or any musical production in years although I have watched Les Miserables on TV a dozen times.
We eventually lost interest in films so we don’t go to any kind of theater today.
Cover of Shirley Valentine
Occasionally, I will rent a film produced with an older audience in mind, like Quartet. But the truth is, the DVD of this film has been lying on a speaker for months, as yet unwatched. I was interested in this film because Pauline Collins is in it. Once upon a time, I traveled to NYC to see her live on stage in Shirley Valentine. That was so long ago, and the heady days of the 1980s and 1990s when feminist stories were at a peak. But that was then. Will I ever feel that interest again?