Waiting for Lear

IMG_20140723_085024John Lithgow and Annette Bening star in King Lear in this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park. Currently I am sitting in line waiting for my tickets.

9:05: We arrived at 6:40. I planned to get here around 6:30, but we got turned around in the park so we were later than intended. The line is surprisingly short given that people often camp out at 3 a.m. for popular shows. This morning’s news reports said the line for last night’s show was long. We came woefully under-prepared with only the hotel blanket, a sweatshirt for a pillow, two bottles of water, and a handful of Blowpops (my longstanding road trip/vacation staple). Fortunately, New Yorkers have turned Shakespeare in the Park into an industry. We’ve rented two camp chairs for $5 each. Vendors have distributed delivery menus. 

9:20: No reviews of last night’s opening show have been posted yet. The advice I got from trolling the internet seems accurate.

*Come early in the show’s run before the buzz. New Yorkers don’t realize the productions have resumed or they wait to see if it’s worth the effort.

*Come on a weekday.

*Don’t let rain forecasts deter you. The shorter lines increase your chance at a ticket. Somewhere I read that rain magically skips over the theater.  Conversely, I have dim memories from childhood about umbrella torture, so I’m not sure what to believe.

9:42: A guy from a startup app called Shout, which is a “less sketchy Craigslist,” is guerilla marketing the app. Download the app and he will bring you a cup of coffee from Starbucks. You have to order through the app, of course, which means you’re using it while he’s collecting user and market data. Very clever. I’m waiting for my coffee. IMG_20140723_100343 10:05: Bathroom break. They let you leave only for the bathroom and concessions at the theater concession stand.

10:25: Back from the bathroom. My coffee from Starbucks is here, as is my fluffy pancake breakfast from Columbus Gourmet Food. Yum.

11:02: An insane amount of greasy bacon accompanied my fluffy pancakes. The hotel blanket is holding up well. Park and theater staff both patrol the line infrequently but regularly. An occasional busker tries a tune, but the crowd is unresponsive. My battery is at 55%. Now we have a flutist playing the William Tell Overture aka the Lone Ranger, which is an amusing score for the joggers and bikers passing us. On the way to the bathroom earlier, I noticed that someone wrote lines from Shakespeare plays in chalk on the sidewalk. Many are political. I realized I am only vaguely familiar with King Lear. Should I drain my battery for a synopsis?

11:35: I read a quick summary. Gosh, no wonder Kurosawa’s Ran always confused me. Theater staff tightened up the line; we’ve packed up and we’re standing now. This trip has been more standing than anything. I wonder when the chair entrepreneur will collect his camp chairs.

11:50: The line is moving!!! I’m so excited!!

11:52: False alarm. Cheaters are coming. Jack is breaking down from boredom and reduced to watching Kung-fu Gatuno videos on Facebook. It’s grueling and demoralizing.

11:55: They are having more fun than me. I’m nervous.

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12:02: We aren’t moving.

12:07: We’re moving slowly. I’m getting hopeful.

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12:10: The cheater did not cheat (not the people in the picture above, btw). The person in front of us requested only two tickets and the person who cut in line to join her requested no tickets. I do believe in fairies. I knew New Yorkers could be nice, and they (we) could respect public theater.Will we have a happy ending, though?

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12:11: SCORE!!

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12:06: BUT WAIT!! There’s more! Bad weather forecast for thunderstorms tonight. I called the Delacourt Theater: 212-539-8500. They decide whether or not to cancel the show at exactly 8:00 PM. If it rains during the show, they will pause, wait, and then decide. There’s still hope! I’m optimistic.

2:52: LOOK!

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