To The Daily Sun,
There are ghosts all around us. Some of them are spirits of those who have departed. Some are memories of how we used to be. Although they are intangible, we attach them, with fervor, to tangible objects, buildings, places and when those objects are lost, buildings torn down, we mourn the loss of the past all over again.
The theater is the host to many ghosts. The theater is a place where reality meets fantasy, where people come to escape from reality. They can go there and, in makeup and costume, transform into another person. They can go there just to watch the transformation and to transport to another plane. In the coziness of community theater the creation of these spirits is even more profound. Neighbors, friends, family, classmates and co-workers make up not only the cast and the orchestra, but the audience as well. Yes, the theater is replete with ghosts.
I'm reminded of these ghosts today as I saw an article regarding the sale of the Gardens Theater in Laconia. The Gardens Theater was home to the Streetcar Company in the late 1960s and 1970s. It was a magnificent building then and still is today. I had the pleasure of touring through the building back in 2011 when it was on the market for $750,000. Now the price has decreased to $250,000. Oh lottery, where art thou?
The theater seats were gone, but the hardwood floor was still in wonderful shape. I stood in the middle and looked around. I looked up to the balcony where I sat though many rehearsals, watching my dad glide across the stage as Zoltan Karpathy or romance a teenage Susan Newell as El Gallo. I closed my eyes and opened them and once again I was at the Ascot Races watching in horror as Eliza dropped her delicate demeanor and screamed at her horse. There was a quartet. A barbershop quartet. Will Reed was the tenor, my dad was the baritone, I think Mr. Buswell sang bass.
Fritz was a doorman. Noel was an orphan. There wouldn't have been any lights without John. Dina was the tiniest little blond girl, injecting her angelic voice into a chorus of hooligans. There were people who designed and sold tickets. Parents and friends who baked. Cast parties with pizza and soda (and I have a feeling there was a bit of beer involved with the folks of age).
Jenny and I sat with a notebook and wrote numbers from 1 to well over 10,000. I think we were planning on setting a world record. I think we were bored one day when our dads were rehearsing.
Being there was like falling asleep in the backseat of your parent's car. You knew you were safe and you knew you belonged there.
The ghosts are still there. I can walk by the building and feel them. Some of them are gone from this world and some of them are just gone from my world. But when I stand there, I can feel them. I can feel them telling me I still belong and somehow, I feel comfort.
So, today, as I read The Daily Sun and saw the sale notice, I felt the ghosts again. I felt them with melancholy and a bit of longing, but mostly with the grateful knowledge that they will forever be a part of me. Yes, there are ghosts in the Gardens and I am one of them.
- Category: Letters
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