Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Which I Commune With the Bard and Meet a Nice Guard

"Are you having fun?" The security guard at the far end of the Folger Shakespeare Library's exhibition hall asked me Monday.

"Oh, so very much!" I replied wholeheartedly.  I had been saving the Folger, since I knew how much I'd enjoy seeing a First Folio.  It was almost closing time, and I was lingering in front of the dimly-lit display case.

"Hey," the guard said in a friendly tone, beckoning me closer.  When I stepped toward him, he dropped his voice conspiratorially, "You want to go inside the theater?"  He raised one eyebrow.

"Can I?"

"Sure!" he said, "You're the only here.  Come on!"

He led me through the doors into the Folger theater.  The stage was lit by work lights but, like he promised, it was empty.

"They just stripped it from the last show," he said.  "Cyrano.  Did you see it?"

"No," I said, "I've never seen a show here."

"Never?" he said with amazement. "Oh, now, that's a shame.  I brought my daughter here last Friday to see the show.  Took her on a date.  She loved it."

"I bet she did.  That's fantastic."

"She's a real smart girl, and it was a great show.  It's fun seeing that kind of Shakespeare stuff."  He looked around fondly at the red velvet seats and the carved wooden columns.  "I've only been working here a month, and I love it."  He looked at me.  "Well, I'm going to let you enjoy it a bit too."  He winked, then left me alone in the theater.

When I saw the season finale of Glee, I scoffed at the improbability of a security guard letting Rachel and Kurt "break in" to the Gershwin theater.  Apparently, I owe apologies to Ryan Murphy.  Rather than hopping up on the stage to let loose with a soliloquy, though, I stood in the center of the house, turning slowly about to see everything, count the lights, read the quote painted in the mural on the ceiling.  I took a few deep breaths, closing my eyes to really enjoy that thick theater atmosphere.  Then I stepped back out into the light and thanked the guard. 

"Here," he said, handing me several brochures about the upcoming season and lecture series.  "You really should come see a show here.  You'd love it."

"I will," I said.  Then I thanked him again and walked back outside to the city.

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