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Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Mother Discourage

There are things that make you feel like you're an actual New Yorker. Walking in the street when the sidewalk's too crowded. Knowing the places to avoid in high tourist season. Giving a stranger detailed directions on what trains to take to get to a certain destination without having to stop and think.

And then there's the Public Theater's shows at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. You really have to have a certain level of New York-ish dedication to see these shows. The tickets are free, but to get them, you have to pick them up from either the Public Theater box office downtown or at the Delacorte. The tickets are distributed at one o'clock. The line, though, generally starts forming at four in the morning.

On Friday, my friend Deni and I met near the park a little after seven thirty and strolled over to the theater to find a line of epic proportions. It stretched down the pathway, around a corner and up a hill. The size of the line was a little intimidating, but we hopped in anyway. The woman ahead of us was nice enough to unfold her blanket and provide us a little cushion between the pavement and our asses.

We didn't get discouraged during our five and a half hour wait. Not when the Public Theater line management lady gave the same speech roughly eight times within our earshot. Not when an annoying fucking flautist set up shop and piped in our ears. Not when it rained and the woman ahead of us took her blanket away, forcing us to stand for the last three hours. A guy ahead of us had done a rough head-count of the line and estimated that there were maybe a hundred and eighty people in front of us. So we were pretty sure we were getting in. We were in a good enough mood that we didn't rat out the girl behind us, whose friend joined the line approximately four hours into the process, a Delacorte no-no.

When it came ticket-time and the audience wranglers had everyone stand up and compress the line a bit, we were enthusiastic, as our wait had come to an end. Looking behind us, we saw that we were maybe three-fifths of the way back the line, which seemed to bode well for our ticket-getting chances. So we happily did the slow inch toward the front, watching as people ahead of us got their tickets and gleefully skipped away.

When we got to about thirty feet from the box office, the Public staff announced that they were down to single tickets. That would mean that we would have been able to get tickets for ourselves and our wives, but that none of us would be sitting next to each other. We weren't happy about that, seeing as how we'd put in so much time, but at least we'd be getting tickets. There were only maybe twenty people ahead of us in line at this point.

Not a minute later, they announced that they were down to vouchers. This is when there were six people ahead of us. Six fucking people. Getting a voucher means that you don't have a ticket, but you have the privilege of coming an hour and a half before the show and waiting for someone to cancel. You're not guaranteed a spot and you have to do another ninety minutes of waiting. At this point, I was pissed. Pissed. Yelling, "Fuck! God-fucking-dammit!" at the cloudy sky kind of pissed. I was, at that moment, capable of tearing the heads off of the audience wranglers and shoving the severed skulls up the ass of the annoying flautist. I didn't, though. Instead, Deni and I went and played angry frisbee.

See, not only did the vouchers not guarantee us seats, but we really couldn't use them anyway, as you have to be there at six-thirty and my wife doesn't get home from work until almost seven at the earliest. We were deflated.

However, seeing as how this show features Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, we decided to give it another go. So we showed up this morning at six-thirty to find practically no line. There were so few people, in fact, that we opted to not join the line where it ended, but to grab a park bench some hundred feet further down the path and sit there as the line eventually reached and then passed us. We wouldn't be in the first fifty people to get tickets, but we were in very little danger of getting shut out and, more importantly, we'd have someplace to sit the entire time, which is very important if it rains and you've got a stream of water running down the path where you'd been placing your ass.

It turns out the bench move was a stroke of brilliance. Because it did rain. Oh, how it rained. And the people in the spots between where the line had ended when we came in and our bench ended up having to stand for the last three hours of the wait. We, meanwhile, sat on a lovely bench under our umbrellas, eating the snacks we'd brought and enjoying the garbage-bag-wrapped blankets Deni had brought to pad our seats.

And so I am now the proud holder of two tickets for tonight's performance of Mother Courage and Her Children, written by Bertolt Brecht, adapted by Tony Kushner, starring Ms. Meryl Streep and featuring Mr. Kevin Kline. I am all set for a night of wonderful New York theater. Which, of course, means tonight's show will be the one performance all year to be rained out.

Edit: So it did rain. It sprinkled, it poured, it misted. It rained the entire night. And they did the show anyway, with a slight delay of the curtain and a brief rain delay after the first scene.

Let me just say: if someone ever comes up to you and tells you that they'll give you the chance to see Meryl Streep perform live, but in return, you have to shove a flaming turd down a nun's'd best get out your lighter and start shoving. Streep was fucking amazing. I would watch her read a transcript of The O' Reilly Factor.

And then there was the awesome adaptation of the script by Tony Kushner, which was not exactly subtle in taking jabs at the current administration and was preaching to an enthusiastic Bush-hating choir. And then there were Kevin Kline and Austin Pendleton, who are both amazing, just in a different way than Streep. They're really more the kind of actors who play themselves in everything, but they do a brilliant job of it. And the supporting cast was tremendous also.

Just a really satisfying theatrical experience, and one that definitely warranted sitting in a wet park for a total of twelve hours.

The flautist would have died had I been in that line.
I had that experience waiting for Cure tickets one time. But the Cure at the Fillmore? Totally worth it.
Oh, I am SO very jealous and envious!! Why, oh why don't I live in NYC?!? Argh! At least I can live vicariously through you & your lovely wife.

I guess I could've gone to see Wooden O's Hamlet if I wanted the good, outdoor theater experience. Not quite the same thing as seeing Streep live, though.

ooo, excellent verfication word: gogju. Is it a martial art? A playground game at shul? An East Asian soft drink? The possibilities boggle the mind...
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