On Wednesday afternoon, as I sat in the first meeting of my French seminar, I found myself writing — in French, of course — a version of the following question: What is the significance of live theater? The exercise was to write the introduction of an essay about a topic on my mind, and thanks to the many hours I’ve recently spent in rehearsal for the Princeton Triangle Club’s upcoming show, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the significance and privilege of once again participating in live theater.
It’s been over two years since the Princeton Triangle Club premiered a new show on the McCarter Theatre stage. Two years since I climbed up and down the theater’s ladders to hang and focus its lights for the first time. Two years since I first learned new spotlight cues. Two years since I first slowly watched every little puzzle piece come together for a brand new Triangle Show on stage.
It’s not the same as the last time, of course. The show’s McCarter premiere was moved from the typical November weekend to January. Our tour was canceled as the omicron variant surged. And, for me personally, the club feels very different.
After a rehearsal, I found myself watching a recording of the show that premiered my freshman fall: “Once Uponzi Time.” It brought up more emotions than expected as I saw now-graduated friends performing the songs over which we initially bonded. I was pulled back to that younger version of myself who worked on that show, the one who was still so unsure of himself.
This experience also made me realize a certain pain that I’ve been carrying around for a while: the pain of feeling robbed of time. This past week and a half has been a tough reminder of what could have been. I’ve asked myself too many questions that start with “what if.” And there’s a certain weirdness in mourning dashed expectations; you’re mourning something that never existed beyond your own mind and heart.
So, to that end, being back in McCarter with Triangle this year has been a great privilege. It’s one less thing relegated to the growing pile of things we’ve lost or given up in the past two years. It’s one less thing that cannot happen because the time for it has passed us by. It’s one less thing that has to be totally reduced to a sadder, more isolated version of itself, as so many of what should be life’s most joyous moments have been.
This all has left me feeling quite grateful as I’ve watched the new Triangle Show come together. The sound of the pit orchestra tuning their instruments. The kicks of the famous Triangle kickline. The satisfaction of an exquisite set transition. And, of course, the marvelous beauty of painting a stage, a set, and actors with light. They’ve all brought me a great joy that had been missing from my life. And there is something special in each of those experiences, and in so many more moments I’ve gotten to see in rehearsals, for which I don’t exactly have the words to describe.
The closest I can get to describing how special this is is by turning to the idea of togetherness. Another question I wrote in that first meeting of my French seminar was about what we may find in smiling, crying, laughing, and feeling so much more, all together in one place, watching the same art being created.
I don’t have clear answers to any of these questions. The exercise was simply to write the introduction — nothing more. But whatever the significance of theater, whatever we may find in it, I do know it is significant. And what we can find in it is so worthwhile.
José Pablo Fernández García is a junior from Ohio and Head Prospect Editor at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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