Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Love Letters

I have never been accused of being particularly refined…I am not polished, nor am I cultivated. In fact, I am not very cosmopolitan at all. I reflected upon these shortcomings as I sat, a fish out of water, in an auditorium filled with the upper crust, or those who purported to be. We had come to attend a play, a very important, very timely, and ultimately very boring production. As we waited for the curtain to rise, I remembered the last play I had attended, this one a much smaller spectacle, in the tiny makeshift theater of a High School cafeteria last winter. There were folding chairs lined up in semi-straight lines, and in the far, back corner of the room a gray haired woman sold Kool-aid and cookies for a dollar. On stage there were minimal props; two chairs and an occasional table between them. The audience was filled with people you would meet at the local church bingo game, or at a book club meeting. Casual attire was the order of the day at this community production of the play by A.R. Gurney entitled, ‘Love Letters’.

Words are powerful, but in the hands of a master, they can transform your world. There were only two actors in the play, a man, who sells cars for a living, and a woman, who is a teacher’s aide in her son’s class two days a week, and a full-time housewife the rest of the time. There is no action to speak of in ‘Love Letters’, the actors walk onstage, sit in the chairs and read letters to each other. That’s it, and that’s all. The words spill forth in a tidal wave of emotion and symbolism, and soon engulfed our ragged band of unrefined attendees. The words took us, together and individually, to places we wanted to go, and some we didn’t, and their power was unmistakable. Will these actors ever win a Tony Award for their performance in a high school auditorium? Doubtful. Will those in attendance remember the play…the standing ovation leads me to believe that they will. ‘Love Letters’…find it…read it.

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