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On Sunday, I experienced art and community in a whole new way. Jim and I went to see Strange Interlude at the Goodman -- six and a half hours (nine acts!) of Eugene O'Neill in all his Freudian glory, as done by the Neo-Futurists in all their Neo-Futurist glory.
OK, first: the show itself was spectacular. There are much better reviews out there than what I can write here late on a Tuesday night. But I was riveted throughout. I feel honored to know so many talented people, and I'm glad I got to see these performances.
But even more resonant for me was the sense of shared experience with the 200 or so other people in the theater. I've been feeling disconnected from actual human beings lately (I blame winter and Facebook in equal measure), but on Sunday I was in it for the long haul with scores of people I never met, all of us sharing in an unusual performance of a rarely mounted play. The day was equal parts art and endurance, and fortunately there was plenty of giddy good cheer to get us through both. It was special in the best way, and it would never happen quite this way again, and we all knew it. And that was cool.
One of the main attractions of the Neos for me is this emphasis on the shared experience of live performance, the acknowledgment that we are all in the room together -- audience and actors alike. Sometimes that's acknowledged through an actor asking you a question or sitting on your lap, and sometimes it's an actor leading a weary but game crowd in a rousing version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the "seventh act stretch" of a nine-act play. We're all in this together.
I just wish I could have brought everyone I know to see this amazing show with me.
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