i love you, richard parker
I saw Life of Pi on Broadway this week, a play based on the Yann Martel book of the same name. The novel is one of my favorites, so I walked into the theatre with sky-high expectations. I left it in tears, so I'd say the cast did their job.1
I went to see the play alone, since I couldn't get any of my friends to come with me (none of them have read the novel, so that's understandable, I guess). Not being able to share an experience like that made me a bit sad prior, but in the end I'm glad I got to take the whole play in without distraction. I showed up a bit early and wandered around the Broadway-themed stores hunting for gifts (I have one Broadway-obsessed friend who asked me to get her ... the green Broadway Ave street sign? yes, from the road), before settling into my seat and reading the Playbill.
When I bought my ticket I picked the cheapest, closest seat I could find, which turned out to be the second row from the stage, far to the right. The ticketing site warned me that I might not be able to see parts of the play, but I decided after watching a blurry play from the middle of the mezzanine last month that I wanted to try sitting up close. And boy am I glad I did, because other than some minor neck pain, sitting so close was a game-changer. I could see 90% of what was going on, and even though the actors often faced center stage, I could see their expressions. When the animal puppets ran up the ramp onto stage left, I could reach out and touch them—that's how close I was. This is a note to myself and all the other myopic folk who need to hear it: sit as close to the stage as you can. You won't regret it.
I haven't seen the movie for Life of Pi. I've heard it's good, but as most readers can relate, the film adaptations of books always find a way to let me down. I've seen some clips of the movie though, and while I have to admit the CGI is amazing, I prefer the imperfect art of puppetry and costume design on the Broadway stage. It's a lot more endearing seeing the creative ingenuity of the team, and like with books, a little suspension of disbelief gives room for imagination to work its magic.
I also find that no matter how good a movie is, there's no reproducing the spectacle of seeing people perform something in front of you live. The chill that runs up your spine when an actor locks eyes with you while they're delivering their lines. Marveling at the seamless scene changes that happen in front of your eyes. Seeing something unfold onstage feels so much more real and pressing and special, since I know what they're showing me is unique and will never be recreated exactly the same way again. The lead actress (yes, I was surprised they cast a woman to play Pi (a boy) too) stumbled over her lines a few times, but who cares? Normal people stumble over their words. Stage plays resemble real life far more than movies ever will.
Explaining the play's effect on me kind of makes me feel like I have a socially acceptable form of delusion, like I try to express to my friends how it moved me to tears, but they just smile and nod blankly because they don't get it, because of course they don't, they haven't seen it and even if they did they haven't read the book and even if they read the book they didn't read it when they were 13 and impressionable like I did— you get the idea. It's like ee cummings wrote, and now you are and i am and we're a mystery which will never happen again.
I found myself conflicted on whether I wanted to write about the play, since I knew I wouldn't be able to find the words to do it justice. Those words don't exist. And now that I've written all this I realize that I haven't actually written about the play at all, just the circumstances surrounding my watching of it, which I'm happy about. Go see it for yourself, if you can! I don't want to spoil it and all I can say is that it's worth your time and money.
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yourstiramisu 🐌 proton dot me
"If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft."↩