More Life! (one last time)

Six months ago I did a rash thing and booked tickets for Angels on Broadway. I say a rash thing, the moment we knew it was going to New York my Mum immediately said ‘we’ll have to go’. I’m starting this blog, written just an hour before I leave for the airport, by saying how incredibly grateful I am to my Mum for making it happen. Not only has my poor, long suffering Mother agreed to spend two days of her holiday sitting through a two day show of Angels, she’s in fact positively shown off about it. Any friend she tells about the holiday gets proudly told we’re seeing an all day show twice. Secretly she loves it as much as I do. But I’m really writing this about her to say thank you- to her and a bunch of dogs. Anyone who follows me on twitter knows Mum started working as a dog sitter about a year ago (after losing our beloved family dog) and well, those monstrous mutts have meant I get to go back to New York and see Angels. As Mum says ‘The dogs are paying’ so thanks Mum. And thanks Dogs.

This is an obstinately sentimental blog. I’m beyond excited, firstly just for a holiday (aside from London I’ve been nowhere in 2 years). And to go back ‘home’ to New York, a city I’ve loved for decades, and feels as much like home as London or Cardiff does. And, fittingly it feels very much like going ‘home’ to see Angels.

As I said in the last blog it’s been interesting watching it all happen, watching from afar new people discover the play and others go back to it. And waiting until the end of the run feels right. My FOMO would have been worse had I seen it and known it was still there for several months.

Last time I was waiting to see Angels, I had a very different relationship with the play. It had been firstly over a decade since I had seen it, and honestly I wasn’t sure how much I still loved it. The PhD had sucked a lot of life- and a lot of love out of me. Luckily, we all know how that turned out. And so this time I’m returning with a love for the play, and for this production. There’s a wonderful sense of anticipation knowing what’s ahead, and the chance to once again immerse myself in that wonderfully indulgent day of theatre is something I will relish.

It’s been a wonderful lesson, these past two years or so, in how my relationship with the play continues to evolve- as something that’s become so entwined with life does I suppose. I’ve ‘grown up’ with the characters- when I started I was almost a decade younger than Prior and Louis, now the next time it comes around that point in my life will be a distant memory probably. Professionally I’ve grown up with it, through PhD, to never wanting sight of the thing or to hear Kushner’s name uttered again, through to loving it again and finding a different but renewed professional passion.

I’ve found friends because of this play. And I get to see a couple of them while I travel to see the play. That’s a wonderful thing.

And of course, this time is a little bittersweet. As much as it’s going ‘home’ it’s also a goodbye-in London I cheated, I already knew it wasn’t quite goodbye. But this time is a goodbye to a production that did change my life, and much like in Kushner’s writing reached in and changed me. I refuse to be sad about it, because again, it’s too wonderful a thing, and ‘The world only spins forward’ after all. But goodbyes are hard. And in London I knew it wasn’t goodbye. So it will be an emotional farewell.

But plays, productions and performances that reach under your skin this way, that change you a little or a lot are rare. And there is no sadness in that. So while in the moment it will be hard to say goodbye, in fact ‘The World only spins forward’ after all.

And above all else it feels like ‘going home’ being reunited with a thing that I love. The last few months have been tough, in many ways. Much like Harper’s souls wheeling, I’m hoping to re-absorb some of this play and be repaired.

And then I’m coming home to write the damn book.

Published by Emily Garside

Academic, journalist and playwright. My PhD was on theatrical responses to the AIDS epidemic, and I continue to write on Queer theatrical history. Professional nerd of all things theatre.

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