Sunday, July 18, 2010


On Friday night, Mr Tabubil and I went to the theater.
            We have a very good theater here in our little town - it mostly does cinema, but one of its two theaters was built for live performance, rigged with a roll-away screen to accommodate the afternoon showings of Transformers and The A-Team.  On Wednesday afternoon I stopped by to pick up tickets for the ballet Don Quixote, which is coming to us in August (ours is the live-theater for the region, and when touring companies come through the state - we get them!)             Theater productions don’t exactly advertise in this town - we don't watch much TV, and the Australian Ballet would have come and gone without us being any the wise if we hadn't gone to the theater to watch Toy Story. There've been no fliers, no posters, nothing on the community boards outside the bakery and sports shop - not one single solitary squib.  The ballet was advertised all over the theater lobby, but that sort of advertising presence doesn't go very far in a venue that runs on Shrek sequels and Twilight Marathons.             While we waited for our popcorn I saw that an equally-unheralded production of the play Cosi is was coming to town - on that Friday night, and on spec I asked if there were any tickets still available.
            Yes, yes there were.  There were not only only lots of tickets available, as of the day before the performance they were being offered up in a "buy one, get one free" deal.  I asked, semi-optimistically, if they had two seats together about half way up and near the middle - I got two seats exactly half way to the top - and two seats over from the very center.  Can't complain, I guess.

On Friday I went to a pub lunch with the other staff members of the high school and floated the news that there was a rather good play coming to town - and that nobody seemed to be going.
            "That's awful!" Someone said.  "If nobody goes, the companies will stop coming- and that would be a tragedy!"
            "So why don't you all come?"  I suggested.  "Two tickets for the price of one - you can't beat that for a Friday night's entertainment!"
There was much vague sound of agreement - oh, yes, absolutely, my word what a very good deal -             
            "But," said the same woman who was so worried about scaring off the touring companies  "I will be at home on the sofa watching the football."
            "Oh."  I said.  "Is there a big game on?"
            She gave me a look of I-can't-believe-this-woman-but-I-shall-be sweet.  "No-o, but that's what we do on Friday nights here."
            "I've got a ticket" said the lady next to me, very firmly, and she raised her chin and gave me a nod.   "I'll see you there!"
            And we would.  So there.  And we would have fun.  More acting to go round.             The lovely thing about a small town is that you can leave for the theater ten minutes before the curtain goes up and still have time for a promenade around the lobby before the show.  We were expecting a pretty thin show, but the turnout was, for this pair of city-people, painful.  It's a nice theater - a small, but well-proportioned stage and good seats for 500, and that great big auditorium was almost empty.  Less than eighty people in the audience.  Worse, with the exception of two UniSA students in the front row and an eight-year-old girl brought along by her grandma, we were the youngest in the audience by at least thirty years.  Call it culture shock, but we were stunned.  In the places we come from, an audience for a show is mostly, well - us.  Young people all over the place.             It was a good show, too.  The cast was very young, and mostly very good, and we all laughed extra hard, to make up for all the echoing empty seats.  It must be tough playing to a house like that.  There was one line in particular, delivered to the audience - something on the theme of the futility of offering art to the masses.
            "Something we try and bring to you people!" (or something like that.)
            The actor seemed to enjoy delivering that one. A pugnacity of chin, a pinch to the nose, his arms flung out that little bit extra wide, and his eyes raking across every single one of us.

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