My brother sent me an email yesterday. He said his movie club had gone to see some live theatre. Festen, now playing in Toronto, was originally a film that he and his buddies had really liked so they were curious to see the stage adaptation.
I don’t know if the presence in the cast of television stars like Eric Peterson and Nicholas Campbell made it easier to convince his friends to go, or indeed, whether they required any convincing at all. But Sean has seen a lot of the shows I’ve directed over the years and has come around to a thoughtful respect for theatre. The production made a positive impression and afterwards he said, “I confirm your claims about the entertainment value of live theatre. It was a huge bang for the buck, especially for downtown Toronto.”
I smiled as I read his email and felt strangely heartened afterwards. It was as if I had asked him to look up a good friend, they had met and he had liked her a lot, if not quite as much as I do. And more, he understood why I love her, why I keep trying to introduce her to others that I love.
It’s a good metaphor, one I had not considered before. I now realize that I am quite the matchmaker. Last week, a student engaged me in a facebook chat from his first visit to New York and I persuaded him to see August: Osage County (rather than Young Frankenstein, sigh). Although I haven’t seen the Tracy Letts masterpiece myself, I keep hearing it’s one of those life-changing experiences we all covet. So I get a small vicarious thrill when I can recommend others take the opportunity that I don’t have “Visit my friend when you’re in her town, won’t you? You’ll like her, I promise. And please give her my love.”
I have often said that I am like a missionary, evangelizing the great masses of those who have not heard the Good News of the power of theatre. Of course, for me it’s a double mission as I believe that power comes from God’s delight in truth, creativity, and story.
So when I have a part in growing a new convert, or can deepen someone’s relationship with theatre, or even plant a seed of curiosity about it, I feel encouraged. And I believe God is pleased, too.
At the end of his email, my brother told me he resolved to start seeing theatre with his wife this year. Now that’s a New Year’s resolution I can get excited about.