I’m in the process of writing the second book of my memoir, and getting closer to the beginning of our second Great Heave — having our own theatre building again. The first one was in Milwaukee with the newborn Theatre X, and that was an epic change. The night we opened our space to the public, I got pregnant—after many years of trying in vain.
The second theatre was in Lancaster PA, a gorgeous candy-box of a space. It was the wig-bubble of an interior decorating firm that wanted a tasteful setting for their wares. They bought two adjoining two-story buildings, combined them and then removed ceilings to make it a two-story space. Adding a curved staircase to an upper balustraded walkway halfway was overkill, but now it was ours: it felt as if we should be performing Mozart. We renovated it into a beautiful little theatre, and I remember the great lustful surge toward our opening as I slogged through day after day and week after week of meeting with officials who all needed to be groomed. You have no idea how many impediments there can be to using something for a theatre.
And how many contributions it takes to pay the bills. I’ve always been our company’s chief accountant, and I remember with great fondness writing those contributions in the ledger—scads of tens and twenty-fives, sometimes fifty, and the astonishing thousand. I hand-wrote every name, remembered every face, and warmed with gratitude.
Then we moved to Philadelphia, renovated a third theatre with an apartment in the back, reveled in being part of an active theatre community, and kept our art and our bank account alive by jumping in the van and hauling ass around the country. So many miles, so many people—memories that formed a heart-scrapbook. And then we moved west, to my beloved California.
In writing the memoir all these images come flooding in, and sometimes waking at dawn I find myself struggling to swim to the surface of my present world. So many layers, all of them flowing into each other. In the real world I’m in the final stages of the California Sales Tax report. That’s the heart of our work now, what we write and publish. Live performance sank with Covid, though we have dreams…
I’m logging the names of people who bought books in 2022. It’s like the building contributions from 1982, I know every name, I can see every face. I guess that’s the opposite of mass marketing, but so be it. I love the warm hit I get from seeing those names and places. These are my people, my colleagues, my co-conspirators, my friends. They’re our tribe. We made a journey last fall to visit as many as we could, and we hope to do it again this coming year. Love is sticky as honey, and just as sweet.