the memory be green

I have never wished for my camera more than I did tonight, at Shakespeare in the Park‘s production of Hamlet. Not because Lauren Ambrose’s carrot-red hair was cascading down half her back in luscious curls. Not because of Andre Braugher, who I’ve known since his days on Homicide (and the general lust my old roommate had for him). Not Sam Waterson rockin’ Polonius’s bumbling pomposity. Or B’s mom, playing Hamlet’s mom. No, it was because of the storm.

5L (by mintyfreshflavor)

A lot of you on the East Coast can join me in lamenting the heat wave lately—high 90s (heat index even higher) and gross humidity for the past 4 days, and we’ve suffered every last minute. But intense storms, featuring hail, lightning, thunder, and winds were predicted for tonight. Pshaw, I said! I’m going to see Hamlet!

Things started out just “fine”—albeit with oppressive heat, little to no breeze, the works. I felt so badly for the performers, pretending it was chilly and laden with wool coats. And then? Suddenly, while the Players were orating, the wind started stirring the trees in a way that can only be described as ominous. It as all too fitting with the action on the stage, and it all came to a head when Hamlet was speaking alone. Leaves started pelting the audience and the stage, the eternal flame at center stage went out, and I felt the pain of being without my camera. Imagine a solitary man at the center of a swirling mass of dirt and leaves and rain, carrying on his speech and even working the mood into his delivery. It was masterful! I know I’ll remember it forever; I just wish I could share it with you.

The next scene had four actors up on a scaffold, and a gust of wind so violent made them all just stop, and I think I saw Andre Braugher laugh. They were interrupted—show had to be canceled for safety. The audience had already started clearing out en masse, and I was eyeing the swaying, hanging lights and going over all my Worst-Case knowledge.

We joined the crowds in dashing out of Central Park. Halves of trees were laying around; these weren’t some stray branches down, this was like the cleaving of the arbor. They blocked the paths. Intense. Awesome. Lightning bolts streaked across the sky, lighting everything blue. I think I shouted twenty times “ARGH! I wish I had my camera!” If I had brought it with me (they’d been so strident that there was absolutely no picture taking that I decided to not carry it all around), I probably wouldn’t have risked taking it out anyway, with the wind and rain, but I so wish I could share it in pictures as well as words. I should remember it’s fun to write sometimes, too.

23 Responses to the memory be green

  1. trillian42 says:

    Wow. That’s one HELL of a cast. I’m rather seriously envious.

    And the image of Hamlet in the middle of the speech in that storm? Sounds VERY cool. And not really something you could even capture with a camera.

  2. Kristy says:

    Wow, it sounds like an awesome experience. I’ve had those moments before, where you try to remember every detail because there’s no other way to capture it. I think it makes the whole thing even better, sometimes :)

  3. meg says:

    i love moments like this. when i was a freshman in college, many many moons ago, i saw pink floyd in houston at an outdoor stadium. halfway into the show a huge storm blew in and i remember it better than any show i’ve ever seen (that’s hundreds).

    glad you made it home safely and also love lauren ambrose. so cool you got to witness such a natural and exciting moment.

  4. Nell says:

    Very dramatic! Fitting I think.
    Sam Waterson has that amazing quality of older, intelligent men that just make them very attractive.

  5. jane says:

    Wow! That sounds so cool.
    Did you have to get there really really early to get tickets? I’m going to be in New York in a couple of weeks time (WOOHOO) and we’d love to see this, it sounds amazing!

  6. Lisa says:

    I would have loved to see some pictures – I hear the storm was mighty last night. I was enjoying listening to the thunder from my apartment. I’m seeing Hamlet tonight and I’m very excited about it! I hope you make it back to see the end.

  7. carolyn says:

    great moment, dude. you describe it differently than your camera would have, but just as well. :)
    and isn’t it fun seeing so many well-knowns at SitP? i have very fond memories of that, from years ago.

  8. Amy says:

    Wow. I am so jealous. I love Sam Waterston. Why oh why is New York so awesome when I could never afford to live there?

  9. orinda5 says:

    I’m imagining you running and leaping over debris “action movie” style.

    Sounds like a very fun production to see.

    I once saw Keanu Reeves play Hamlet. He actually impressed me with his acting when he was interacting with the other characters – his monologues were another story.

  10. Katie says:

    As a former theatre person, I’m sure there was all kinds of fun panic going on behind the scenes. And it takes a LOT to cancel an outdoor play – we used to go right ahead in the rain, as long at there wasn’t thunder and lightening.

    That was a GREAT storm last night though – but sorry you couldn’t finish Hamlet. I must go see it ~ I have a little crush on Sam Waterson.

  11. Num Num says:

    It had to be Hamlet, didn’t it? Midsummer Night’s Dream would never have done. Believe me, you will remember it forever. Can’t imagine how wonderful Braugher was, and his mother as Gertrude??? Fantastic. I always hold Sir Laurence Olivier in my mind as the eternal Hamlet. Not even Richard Burton. I’m so glad you didn’t have your camera because your description might not have been so precise and lyrical at the same time. You’ve got it, girl.
    I’m also glad you got home safe. I thought the trees outside my window were going to fall over.

  12. Francesca says:

    I was a stage manager for a couple of shows in the Park in summers past and the rainouts can be most spectacular! I’m glad you had a good time and a good story to tell! I used to have full-on rain gear on hand for occasions such as that! I can’t tell you how wet and grubby you get trying to dry off the stage between showers or running around trying to get the props inside out of the rain before they disintegrate. And it is not water tight under that stage either! Oh good times, I miss it. The weather and the raccoons are what make outdoor theater so much fun. Glad you made it out of the Park safely!

  13. Heather says:

    How thrilling! You gave such a masterful account of the event–you are such a talented writer…ever think of bagging the editing gig and switching teams?

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