Theater vs. theatre

posted by Jeff | Sunday, September 14, 2014, 12:16 AM | comments: 0

One of the parts of my life that I often forget about or don't make room for is my love of theater. See, the problem is, I started to get interested in high school, and I wasn't even cool enough to mix with the theatre crowd. I was always less interested in the academic angle, where people got knee deep in interpreting the text and studying the finer points of acting. I was more about sound and lighting than anything else.

But in college, I went in with theater declared as a minor right away. It kind of made sense, because radio/TV majors had to do a semester or two of stagecraft anyway. In that year, I had a really good time getting involved in a number of shows and getting to really dive into lighting as both a theoretical topic and a technical one. Heck, I was the only one in R/TV who cared about lighting. One of my instructors thought I was crazy for bringing the only light kit we had out on shoots for my sophomore documentary. I got a lot out of that year.

But after that first year, the theater department's technical professor got canned (rumor was he slept with a student or something), and I just didn't feel like it was something that would make any difference professionally. In the summer before my senior year, I did get involved with community theater in my home town, and that was a lot of fun. It appealed to my need to contribute, because they never really had anyone who thought about lighting beyond, "Can you see the actors?"

Fast forward to 2007, and I meet this woman who was a union stage manager with off-Broadway experience as well as work in the many Cleveland theaters. (Believe it or not, Cleveland is one of the top cities in the country as far as the breadth of professional theater in one place.) By that time, she was working a more manageable job with a bank, but she still cared a great deal about it. That woman was Diana, and obviously I married her.

I've always enjoyed hearing her stories (she has a good one about riding in an elevator with Alec Baldwin before a show), but I've always been hesitant to bother her with my own interest, I guess because it seems insignificant compared to hers.

Today I think we made a minor step toward sharing the interest, in that we've talked about getting involved at the new performing arts center here in town. She's exploring work and volunteering, and I'm searching for a way in the general sense to get involved. I know that they're using some of the space at times for community theater too, so I need to look deeper into that. At the very least, we know we're going to buy some tickets to some shows. I hope people realize what they have here in that awesome facility.

So I'm not much of a theatre geek, but I do like theater. I don't remember where I first saw someone make the distinction, or insist upon it, but it was probably high school. I don't have much in the way of street cred, and I won't apologize for liking a popular show, but I do enjoy the art. It's still something that is vastly different from any other kind of entertainment, especially musicals.


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