Patrons in Unlikely Places

So it was a couple of weekends ago, and I was hanging out at a friend-of-a-friend’s apartment. It was around one in the morning and I was damned uncomfortable. Most of the people I had come there with had already left, and as more strangers came pouring in from outside I realized I barely knew anyone there. I’m fairly certain that the party was in celebration of a BU club football victory, so here I was, the skinny theater kid in the midst of guys three times my size and their girlfriends.

And what happened next came as a great surprise. Here I am, sitting, minding my own business, and one of the guys milling about notices me. I’ve met him before, and I always took him for a cool dude, but someone who had interests far removed from my own.

“Hey. Yo, dude. You’re into acting and all that, right?”

Yeah, I suppose I am. “Sure.”

He takes a seat across from me. “Well…I was just wondering what shows are going on right now that would be worth seeing.”

What? “Um…there’s -”

“Cause I’ve been seeing stuff – posters – for House everywhere. Is that good?”

“Oh yeah! Yeah, I’ve heard it’s great. Definitely check it out.”

From there, I learned that not only was he taking the acting for non-majors course with Steve, but that he’s looking to expand his knowledge of theater and acting throughout the rest of his time at BU. And this fascinated me. I was floored. I even got one of his friends in on the conversation. We talked for over half an hour about our perceptions and experiences with acting, and found myself in the – admittedly uncomfortable – role of adviser for his future theatrical plans. It was fantastic, and much more interesting than what I would have been doing at the party otherwise. Here was a guy who was the polar opposite of the kind of person I’d expect to be into theater, yet…he was.

Then after I left, I wondered why the hell I was so surprised. Why shouldn’t I expect that people who don’t fit the typical “theater-goer” profile don’t enjoy live performance? What is a typical “theater-goer” anyway? We talked in our discussion of Outrageous Fortune on Thursday about how the people who write plays are the same people we might run into at the grocery store. So why couldn’t we run into theater fans in the most unlikely places. I can’t speak for everyone, but there’s something strange about the way this program has twisted the way I think about who needs to see theater more than anyone else. I think we discuss a lot about how we can use our art to benefit others, to bring awareness, to expand our boundaries. But the stuff we work on in SOT feels so insular to me anymore. Aren’t we performing because we want to give to others? Don’t we often complain about a lack of public interest or investment in theater? How do we think this interest is built? All I had to do was talk to someone for thirty minutes, and I reinforced one person’s interest, and sparked another’s. Who cares if it doesn’t amount to anything in the long run. The point is that there are many, many students at this school who would love to have the opportunity to see the kind of performances we get to see every week. I invited the both of them to come see the Director’s Project this week, and I hope it challenges them and they leave with an enjoyable experience.