Tonight I went to The Fair Barn to see a community theatre production of "Harvey", which is supposed to be about an invisible rabbit. Being an avid fan of community theatre -- the roar of the greasepaint and all that -- and never having seen an invisible rabbit before, I thought I'd check it out.
The Fair Barn is a turn-of-the-century horse barn which was rebuilt after an unfortunate tornado some years ago and converted to a city-operated exhibition hall, and since I have a large investment in an upcoming concert or two in the area I was curious how this small-town venue would be laid out for theatre. Was I surprised! Yes, I was.
The theatre area was boxed off by eight-foot exhibition curtains and you had to enter through a small opening in the curtains like those special shows at the county fair where the stage show out front was free but you had to pay a quarter to go back and see the good parts, except tonight they had folding seats lined up on risers that completely surrounded the stage, which was on the floor. Theatre-in-the-round as it were. I guessed it would seat about 250 patrons.
I had deliberately chosen Wednesday's performance which I figured would be a slow night and since I was ten minutes early I was the only person in the audience, so it was easy to find my seat up on the eighth row, seat 36. Thirty-eight patrons later the lights dimmed and the show started. Or at least I believe it did because a couple of actresses walked onto the stage from behind a secret curtain and started talking to themselves but since they were facing the four people in the audience on the other side of the stage I couldn't hear what they were saying. Every now and then they would move around and face somewhere else that wasn't in my direction either but at least the folks in those sections got to hear a little bit. I was starting to wish I'd brought my hearing aid.
Finally the lead actor came on stage and since he projected well I could actually hear most of what he was saying -- to the invisible rabbit that even the play-actresses couldn't see. Try as I might I couldn't hear what the invisible rabbit was saying and finally figured he wasn't facing in anybody's direction. The $15 I paid for tonight's ticket was beginning to make the $25 I had been praying to get for The Embers Christmas Show look way too cheap. Sensing that the end of Scene One was drawing near I began to plan my exit.
Just before the lights dimmed signalling the end of Scene One I completed a recount of the house: 39 persons plus the doorman and ticket lady and with that reappraisal of the Pinehurst entertainment market I bolted for the exit curtain, wondering if I had the nerve to quaff a hemlock cocktail after I got home.
-- Dalton Hammond