Theater: “As If We Never Said Goodbye”
April 1, 2020: We who love theater feel ourselves besieged from all sides. Not only has Broadway, off-Broadway and off off-Broadway shut down, but the coronavirus has taken the lives of many prominent theater professionals: the great playwright Terrance McNally and the beloved former Drama Desk president, William Wolf, to name just two.
Many have tried to fill the emptiness of our theatrical lives using Podcast, YouTube, video and various social media platforms. But we all know it’s not the same. To make matters worse, doomsayers, who have nothing better to do in their lives than sow the seeds of hysteria, are proclaiming theater in New York City is dead. It will never recover. It will never return.
What is all this nonsense?
Will there be no more actors? No more musicians? No more writers? And, yes, no more producers willing to risk their money not just in the hope of making more money but in the strong conviction that the show can and will go on?
Theater in New York City has persevered through all sorts of calamities – war, depressions, riots.
January 1866, Edwin Booth returned to New York City in the role of Hamlet at the Winter Garden Theatre. It was only nine months after his brother Johnny had assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, and he was terrified he would be booed off the stage. Instead, he received an ovation. The audience knew he had suffered and welcomed him home.
Not only will theater come back to New York City. It must come back. What else can “ease the anguish of a torturing hour?”