Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Empty Seat


Movie audiences tend to get on my nerves, but I have a special fondness for people who go to the theater.

Perhaps there’s something about seeing a live performance, but I find I’m able—and quite willing—to start conversations with my fellow theatergoers.

It’s nothing for me to turn to the person next to me and start talking to them—something I very rarely do with a movie crowd.

People at the movies don’t seem open to chatting, except with each other and usually right in the middle of the goddamn movie I’m trying to watch. This probably explains my fondness for Netflix.

Now you get your clunkers amongst the theater patrons, too—schmucks who unwrap their candy at exactly the wrong time so it sounds like a forest fire or asshats who run their mouths nonstop as if they’re in their living rooms—or at the movies.

But overall I’ve found theater audiences to be talkative at the proper times and usually they have something intelligent to say.

I get a special charge when I sit down next to a single empty chair. I always find myself wondering who will be sitting beside me for the next few hours.

Perhaps a lovely, age-appropriate woman will show up clutching her Playbill and apologizing to the other people in the row as she makes her way to her seat.

We’ll exchange nice words before the lights go out. During intermission we’d talk about the show and other plays we’ve seen, and what do you think of the leading man?

Maybe we’ll go for drinks after the show or agree to meet up at a later date. The curtain could be going up on a beautiful affair…

This only happened once in my life and the relationship—if you want to call it that—only lasted two dates. But that hasn’t dampened my spirits any.

Right This Way...

I sat next to a single empty seat a few weeks back when we went to see “Death of A Salesman.”

As I sat there looking at that unoccupied chair, the fantasy factory in my head started conjuring up images of the ticket holder. Attractive, intelligent, unattached…it was my own version of "Waiting for Godot."

And then this guy who bore a strong resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock waddled up the steps and plopped himself in the empty chair. The fantasy factory quickly shut down.

This guy wasn’t at all talkative before the show started and he promptly fell sound asleep moments after the lights went out.

He essentially paid 80 bucks to take a nap, but it’s his money. It’s not like we’re friends or anything.

We went to the theater on Saturday to see Charles Busch’s “Judith of Bethulia” at the Theater for the New City on First Avenue. It was first, first-served, and we were lucky to find three decent seats in a row. I sat down in my chair, looked to my left, and saw…an empty seat.

There was a bag on top of it, indicating the occupant would be back soon. Maybe a lovely female occupant…we could talk about how much we loved Charles Busch’s work…I could get her phone number…

The lights went out and my dream date still hadn’t shown up. It took me about an hour, but I finally realized no one was coming for this chair. The woman two seats away--who was with a group--had parked her bag there.

Okay, so that little drama wasn’t happening. But I enjoyed the show and had a nice time with my family. I’ll keep going to the theater and I’ll keep chatting up the people around me.

And I’ll always keep an eye on that empty seat.

2 comments:

Ron said...

Rob, once again your post blew me away!!!!

I probably laughed at least FIVE times through it. You have such an amazing way with words, truly!

"schmucks who unwrap their candy at exactly the wrong time so it sounds like a forest fire or asshats who run their mouths nonstop as if they’re in their living rooms"

Bwhahahahahahhahaha! Yes, and as a stage actor I can't tell you how many times that happened to me while ONSTAGE!

"And then this guy who bore a strong resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock waddled up the steps and plopped himself in the empty chair. The fantasy factory quickly shut down."

Bwhahahahahahahaha! That visual was HILARIOUS!

And OMG...I am so jealous that you got to see Charles Busch's "Judith of Bethulia!!!!" I freakin ADORE Charles Busch's work! Did you ever see the movie, "Die Mommy Die?" It's brilliant!

And you're right, theater audiences are SO different than movie audiences. And like you, I much prefer the whole theater experience over the movie experience. People who usually attend the theater have a completely different mentality than those who go to the movies.

Again, great post! And keep an eye on that empty seat because you never know!

Have a FAB week, buddy!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, how's it going?

God, it must be awful to deal with twits in the audience when you're up on stage. Haven't seen "Die, Mommy, Die," but it's on my list.

Charles Busch is a riot. We saw "The Divine Sister" last year and almost died laughing! Of course, all those years in Catholic school may have been a factor.

Take care, buddy, and have a great week!!