Less than a month ago, Bill and I were in our last casting session for The Time of Your Life, when we had to excuse ourselves to join Ana Rose on a conference call with the Executive Committee. A few minutes later we walked out knowing that when we left that night we would be closing the doors on an extraordinary production of Measure for Measure, a Classic Sundays reading that weekend, and a host of classes and meetings. Things where people met to make and view art, gather with their friends and make new ones. And though we knew we would open again, we didn’t know exactly when that “when” would be.
Covid-19 has done much to upend the world. I am daily reminded about the tragedies it has wrought and the tender mercies it has delivered from grocery clerks, nurses, doctors, firemen, neighbors shopping for someone less able, and friends, both old and new reaching out to make connections.
Humans, Aristotle believed, were social animals. To fulfill their nature as humans, they have to gather and participate in group activities. And Antaeus is nothing if not a “group activity.” It is a place to laugh and cry and think and grow…together. I find myself talking to Antaeans everyday, now. By that I don’t mean just the actors or staff members, but the audience members and the students, reviewers even. People who came to see a play once and found me on social media. People whom I have known and worked with for thirty years. It is the connection we seek. The way to make sense of the world in an uncertain time that we crave. It is the need to make ourselves truly human. Whether that “humanness” we find is great tragedy or deep silliness. At the end of this, I think we will know one too intimately and need the other one…a lot.
So to all of you I have spoken to in the last few weeks: Thank you for reminding me that home is more than the house or apartment we live in. It is also a place where we come together. A place where our family is one we have created. I have worked in many theaters in my sixty five years and I have enjoyed almost all of them. But Antaeus is different. Our audiences are as much a part of us as the actors on the stage.
And to all of you I haven’t spoken to recently, I hope we talk soon. Whether from my home now or in our home when Antaeus opens its doors again.
And I am really looking forward to a few hugs.
So stay safe and healthy at home. I’ll see you on the other side: before a reading, during an intermission, on the way into a class.
We will be back. And we look forward to having you with us.