Monday, July 03, 2006

New Things #106 and #107: Saying goodbye to the Evidence Room

The stage has been swept for the last time.

The audience has left the building.

The actors have gone home.

(Though one could argue that this is there home, or that it was.)

Tonight was the closing night of the Cherry Orchard at the Evidence Room, which means it was the closing night of the Evidence Room. At it's current digs, at least. I've got lots of wonderful memories of that place; of theater I've seen within those walls; of friends I've made; of friends who aren't around anymore; of jigs I've danced. (Yeah, there's been lots of dancing.)

I wasn't really sad while I was there tonight. It's hard to be sad inside of that building. There's too much life goin' on, you know? Too much booze bein' drunk and jigs bein' junk (that doesn't make any sense at all, but I like how it sounds, and it's been awhile since I've invented a freaking phrase on my blog, so there we go) (if it wasn't clear from the context, well, I'll use it again, in another sentence: "Fuck, yeah, the DJ's playing 'Hey Ya,' let's go junk our jig on the dance floor!") (I understand that that sentence was a complete nonsequitor but it's my example and I think it gets the point across) (I hate sentences that have the word "that" in them twice in a row) (that that) (it fucking sucks when you have to do that) (I wish that one of the thats could be spelled "thet") (in which case, I would have said: "I understand thet that sentence was a complete nonsequitor...") (doesn't that work so much fucking better?) to be sad. When you're inside the Evidence Room, you just want to flow with the groove. You don't want to be sad. I didn't start getting sad until I got home and started writing this blog entry--that's when I started to think about how much I was going to miss that place.

A building is a building--or a bra factory is a bra factory--and that's about it. Until someone makes it into something more. And you gotta hand it to Bart DeLorenzo for making that place the kind of theater where you often never want to leave. I've seen countless shows there and I've almost always stayed at least an hour after the show was over, if not longer. Hangin' with my theater peeps, gettin' my booze on, junking my jig (see? it's catching on!) (it's totally catching on) (right?) (i mean, you're gonna start using it) (you totally are). Bart created that vibe. And he also created a hell of a lot of good theater.

I want to run through a list of memories, but it's four in the freaking morning and I'm driving back up to Pismo Beach to meet up with my dad and my brothers for more fourth of July weekend fun, and I have to get on the road in, oh, about five hours, so I'm going to go to sleep.

One memory, though, before I go to sleep:

I can't say goodbye to the Evidence Room without mentioning Pamela Gordon. Pamela passed away from esophageal cancer a few years ago. Pamela was a grande dame of the theater. She was a neurotic, outrageous, funny lady. A true character. She had an unforgettable, deep smoker's voice, yet there was something about her that was completely ageless; if she had told me that she was in her thirties I would have believed her and if she had told me that she was in her eighties I would have believed her as well. Seriously. (Of course, Pamela being Pamela, she was always completely cagey about her age--if I remember correctly, her IMDB profile once said that she was in her 80s, until Pamela found out, and demanded they change it) (though that might have been a dream I had once)

I knew who Pamela was before I met her. I'd seen her in the ER's production of Edward Bond's Saved, and I'd seen her dozens of times in Weird Science, of course, too. (Because, hello? She played Wyatt's mom in fucking Weird Science.) (Represent.) So I was a fan.

And she had seen a production of my very first produced play, Tonseisha, at Theatre of NOTE, where she was also a member; so she knew me too.

But even though we both already knew each other, we actually met onstage. At the end of the ER's production of Charles Mee's play Imperialists at the Club Cave Canem (the song and dance extravaganza) (which is honestly one of my favorite theatrical experiences in the history of ever) (I know I saw it at least ten times), in the last number, the actors encouraged the audience to get up onstage and junk the jig, if you will. The first time I saw the play, I got up onstage during that last number and jigged my way over to Pamela. She had the biggest smile on her face you'd ever seen. And we fucking rocked the hell out. Later that night, at the bar, we started talking, and decided we wanted to work on something together. A movie, a play, something. We never did work together, but for the next two years, every six months or so, we got together for lunch at Dupar's (which is such a Pamela restaurant) and we talked about theater and art and books and Our Plans To Take Over This Town. I think we had four of these lunches. She was a lovely woman; she was the Evidence Room's patron saint; whenever I go there, I think of that funny little lady, I think of a big, raging smile on her face, I think of her wiry body jigging her junk.

Now I'll say goodnight with this image, of the Cherry Orchard actors leaving the stage after their last bow:

Oh, and New Thing #106: I drove three hours to see a play. (I've seen a lot of theater in my life, and I've travelled and seen theater in many other cities, but I've never travelled such a distance for the sole and specific reason of seeing a play.) (But that's what I did tonight.) (I just couldn't bear not being there on closing night.)

New Thing #107: I said goodbye to the Evidence Room, natch. (see above)


Rebecca said...

First! teehee!

Rebecca said...

I have driven 3 hrs just to see a play. But considering where I live it's kind of necessary. We drove an hour to see Wicked in Cleveland last week and that was a short trip! The things you do when you live in the middle of nowhere...

Aimie said...

i had tears in my eyes reading this entry. what a beautiful place full of beautiful people. we must remember to revive the spirit of the evidence room everywhere we go and in whatever we do. long live life!

communicatrix said...

My, my—yes. It was a grand place, wasn't it?

I'm so glad we got to see each other there one more time. Good for you to make the long drive to do it; it was exactly the right thing to do.

Even funnier that you saw Imperialists 10x and I didn't know it. Which means you saw me onstage 10x and didn't know it. (And come to think of it, Tonsheisa was my favorite original play ever—EVER—and I didn't know you'd written it, or didn't know you when you'd written it.)

But now we know all of these things, and also we know to be even more appreciative of present and future things b/c of their inevitable evanescence.

We know a lot, don't we? Lucky, lucky us...

Anonymous said...

Inevitable evanescence.

That's a keeper.


Anonymous said...

This is Josh...your brother
I remember you took me to that play the Imperialist one
and I remember dancing at the end of the was a pretty unforgetable experience
When I look back though I wish I had jucked my jig a little harder...if it was now I would have boogied down like there was no tommorow...too bad the Evidence Room is gone...and too bad they can't bring back the guy who shot himself........

Erik said...

rebecca, for some reason i kind of dug driving that long to see the play. i couldn't do that drive every day (there was this story on the news that i saw last week about people who commute two to three hours to work and back every day, ug) but making the three hour drive for a special event was kinda nice. it's like the event had some extra special sauce on it because i had to go to the effort of making the big drive, and it was so worth it.

Erik said...

yes, aimie, i agree--everywhere we go, we should find that spirit that the evidence room had. every place we go should be someplace where, you never know when, but dancing could erupt at any moment.

Erik said...

Colleen, i LOVED YOU in imperialists. i was seriously a total groupie. i loved everything about that show. every single second of it. did you read my brother's comment above? i kept bringing new people who HAD TO SEE IT. who i wanted to see it. who i wanted to share that with. it was really something. i loved it. all of you. honestly, in my top five theater experiences ever, and i've seen a lot of theater in my days (when you read that sentence, imagine my voice is really gravelly and aged) (but it's true).

thanks for what you said about Tonseisha. i love that you saw that play. i was really proud of it.

Erik said...

colleen, i agree with my mom about the "inevitable evanescence" thing being a keeper.

Erik said...


i totally almost forgot about this, but you so missed out on a spontaneous dance party that mike and i had on the golf course (i think it was at the tee for hole number 3).

"too bad they can't bring back the guy who shot himself" is going down in the history books of Funniest Sad Things I've Ever Heard Anyone Say. (i also like that it's totally an inside joke and no one knows what we're talking about right now)