Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dramatic Theatrics

Tradition: Theater


Every year my family took our summer vacation away from home. We did not do summer camp or anything like that, instead we all piled in my mother’s van and drove across our very large state and through another to visit my grandparents and cousins. My paternal grandmother spent her summers up at the family cabin in Idaho. If I was a millionaire I would spend every weekend and all of my summer months at that cabin, I love it.

There is a famous national park near the cabin. There is also a small town call West Yellowstone. The town had the normal touristy stores, but it also has a cute candy store and a small theater. Every summer the theater put on 3 plays and my family would have tickets to all three. We sat in the front row. The theater is so small that the back row would still be the most expensive seats in any other theater.

The actors and actresses were generally young adults from nearby colleges and such. I can say with complete certainty that the level of skill I saw there has rivaled many of the plays I have seen elsewhere, including Broadway. My dad often told us we could be part of the playmill when we grew up (I obviously never reached that potential quitting singing in 8th grade)

The plays I liked the best were the musicals. Can you imagine being close enough to trip Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof? What about being close enough to kiss one of the 7 brothers in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?
My Mom didn’t (probably still doesn’t) consider a trip to the cabin to be a vacation, but she suffered through it despite. I am not sure if she loved all of the plays, but I know that she enjoyed Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Probably because we got to watch the best Joseph to ever play the part, his name is David Walker and the prison scene would make anyone cry. He is amazing.

This is how it went every play day. Drive the 20 minutes from the cabin to West, run to the candy shop and buy jelly bellys (watermelon, pear, Dr. Pepper and buttered popcorn were my favorites). Go into the theater where there is a small variety show before the play starts. Join the sing along in hopes one of the actors will pull you up on stage and give you a peck on the cheek. Watch the first half of the play and buy fudge at intermission. Eat half of your fudge during the second half and wrap the rest to take back to the cabin.

My favorite play is Fiddler on the Roof. My husband would tell you that is because I am Jewish (which I'm not, it's hard to explain). I think it is because the family is my family. Strong parental units raising 5 daughters based on traditions. Though the story line doesn't fit my family at all, it is still amazing how everyday things are tradition "Maybe that is why we always wear our hats"

As I look back, because now I am a grown up and can use such phrases, I realize that my dad really wanted us to appreciate theater as something enjoyable, not something stuffy and dreadful. I think he succeeded with that goal, I still love theater.

1 comment:

Lucia said...

About five or six years ago we got an American Repertory Theater season package -- not season tickets, I think we saw four shows. About three or four years ago our local high school put on "The Laramie Project," occasioning reams of hostile letters to the town rag. Inappropriate for children, gutter language, cats and dogs living together, yada yada. We have our share of local bigots, and our humble village also got a visit from Fred Phelps & co. In our ten years' residence we'd never been to any high-school production (it's true in our town as in any other that the audiences for such things are mostly parents of the performers), but we decided to see what all the fuss was about. We just barely managed to snag tickets and to squeeze ourselves into the packed house.

Anyway, the performance was at least as good as anything we'd ever seen at ART. Those kids were amazing; we kept forgetting that they were kids.

(I counted two s-bombs, one f-bomb, and a couple of slurs in a three-hour show. If I wanted to be offended it would be quicker and cheaper to go ride the subway.)

(The show we saw got a standing ovation; I'm told that all the others were equally well attended and received. The power of bigotry in action.)