Though this video’s been around since last April, it caused such a sensation when I put in on Facebook yesterday that I’m putting it here, too.
I’ve been trying to figure out why this video makes me so happy, and I’ve decided it’s the same thing that’s always astounded me about theater or indeed any kind of live performance. And that’s how human it is. While there are many creatures on the planet that perform for one another – crows and dolphins, for example – there’s something quintessentially human about organizing it into a big production, and especially about the need to present that effort to someone else, that makes me proud of humanity.
Many years, I remember a trip my friend and colleague Marc Robinson took to what was then called Czechoslovakia. This was decades ago – a world away from now, and unauthorized performances were still illegal. Marc recalls being accosted by a theater artist who led him through the city via a circuitous route, ending up in an apartment where the man offered a clandestine, one-man command performance of a piece he’d written himself, all at terrible risk. So that someone could bear witness to what he’d created.
Some of us, probably most of us, are hard-wired for performance. Don’t you feel it’s endearing that we want to do that for each other? I don’t know who the performers in the Antwerp train station were or how they conceived of a flash mob rendition of “Do Re Mi.” But I bet most of the people who happened to be there that day felt somehow singled out for joy.