Saturday, March 19, 2016

I saw "Angel Reapers"

What I saw: "Angel Reapers" at the Signature Theater, on W 42nd, off-Broadway

What I wore: favorite dirty jeans, J. Crew men's striped oxford shirt, tan cardigan, Chinese-made Australian-brand boots, black quilted jacket with Baker plaid trim, silk scarf I bought at the American Folk Art Museum that was made in India.  

"No photography allowed"

What I did beforehand: Tuesday things, Tuesday being the homeliest day of the week
Who went with me: The Graduate
How I got tickets: online, full-price

Why I saw this show: Because the United States of America has always been a home to people of unusual faiths. 

Where I sat: The stage is in the middle with the audience divided on the two sides, facing each other. I sat in the third row, left, behind the Graduate, between a quiet woman who was barely breathing and a man with a case of the sniffles. 

Things that were sad: The Shakers were celibate. 
Things that were funny: (spoilers)

Things that were not funny: There was a moment, after the last member of the audience took off their coat and sat and the stage manager closed the door and people began to get quiet in anticipation. Well, maybe some people weren't quietening and some people were actually shushing each other (a scolding akin to some honking, which there is also too much of in New York) and the lights started to dim and I watched not for the beginning of the play but for the moment of  transformation: when the collection of unrelated individuals becomes a cohesive audience. I didn't see it. But really the theater was just a room and I and all the people in it dutifully gave the eleven actors our focus despite being able to see the faces of other members of the audience. Because without this choice maybe there is no theater. So as a backdrop to the actors, there was an array of human faces, like indoor moons, also watching but meant to be ignored. And I was undisturbed by them but distracted by a single microphone wire subltly snaked from the bonnet of a performer into her dress. I wanted that wire not to be there; more than I wanted the faces of the other half of the audience to go away, more than I wished the sniffles from the guy sitting next to me would stop, I wanted that wire not to be running from her simple white bonnet to the collar of her 18th century dress.

What it is: a play? dance? musical? interpretative history? recital? pageant? About the Shakers. It answered 74 things about the Shakers, but asked 123 more. 

Who should see it: history buffs, utopians, cloggers, shape-note singers, re-enacters, students of religion, Quakers. 

What I saw on the way home: A pair of Con Ed trucks, fixing something under the street, because New York never stops being broken.

Because New York never stops being broken

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