Thoroughly enjoyed a Mini-marathon at PCS this weeend, catching closing shows — my inadvertent mode de guerre any more with theater, forever showing up at a run’s end. Saturday night I saw The 39 Steps, the fun send-up of Hitchcock’s ancient potboiler. And then today, Adam Bock’s eerie, disturbing The Receptionist, which was an outstanding production.
Somewhere in the middle of the former show, it came to me that yesterday was my “good night and thank you” day at PCS. Because it took me two weeks to dismantle my office, my actual last day was April 4, but the guillotine actually sang a year and a day ago.
In the course of that year, I’ve been back to PCS as a visitor or as an audience member many times, and you know what? It’s fine. Not painful or maddening or discouraging. Fine. But it always feels a little strange to be there as an outsider. I have to resist the urge to use the secret passageways and shortcuts I know are there; I must squelch the impulse to go up to confused patrons and ask if I can help them. But mostly it’s a pleasure, really -- nice to just relax into a good show and feel no responsibility for its artistic merit.
After all this time, I’m still asked whether I’ll return to PCS as a staffer — invariably by people who are not theater folk, of course. Those in the biz know it’s well-nigh impossible to get a department back once it’s been branded as accessory. (Berkeley Rep managed to get back its lit department eventually, but it limped along with a part-time contractor for years.) Usually I respond by saying I’d be willing to discuss a return, but that’s just a way to end the conversation. It’s doubtful that I’d go back, even in the unlikely event the opportunity arose — not because of emotional or psychic barriers, but simply because I’ve done that job already, you know? There would have to be a new reason, such as a dedicated new play development wing or something.
I am a little surprised I’ve not been asked back as an independent contractor, though, to teach a class or something. Not because I’m so gobsmackingly resplendent, but just because it would make business sense. Plus if I were still in management I would reason that the best way to recuperate a publicly embarrassing situation would be to co-opt the former staffer in question — give him a few gigs, keep him on a short leash.
That hasn’t happened. (Sigh. There’s never a good Machiavel when you really need one.) That too is all right; it’s not like I’m wondering what to do with my time. And as time goes by, I just enjoy being in the Armory as a spectator. It’s easier to resist the urge to pull weeds from the Vera Katz Park, to welcome Board members into the space, etc. When I walk into the lobby, it still happens that people I don’t recognize smile at me or else squint, as though they’re trying to recollect where they’ve seen me before…but this too will fade.
“Life is change,” as the Jefferson Airplane used to sing. “How it differs from the rocks.” Color me deinstitutionalized. And loving it.