FROM A DAUGHTER’S POINT OF VIEW
It’s eight P.M. The heat of the mid-August day has burnt itself out into a cool, electric evening. “Perfect,” everyone says. The sun has not quite set, but already the brightest moon of the year, the Buck moon, begins to rise over Central Park. I walk in door three and up the stairs into the Delacorte Theater. A semi-circle of dark green, plastic, folding chairs surrounds the stage. Belvedere Castle looms in the distance, cutting a majestic figure as the night falls and the lights dim. The show starts at eight, but the drama began long before that.
The sun is just peeking through the trees as I begin my day in the Park. The concrete is cold beneath me and dew still coats the grass. Far along in the final month of my summer vacation, the liveliness of the fauna and the vibrancy of the flora at this time in the morning take me by surprise. My melatonin-drenched brain catalogues but doesn’t process the images my eyes relay. I observe the hard-core Shakespeare devotees and the homeless—indistinguishable from one another. With sleeping bags and hoodies they camp out on the hard pavement under the towering branches of oak and pine trees. This elite group of theatregoers has been waiting for tickets since midnight last night—some sleeping inside the Park illegally and others waiting just outside, on the corner of 81st and Central Park West. As I round the first bend in the line, I see hipsters with yoga mats, sipping coffee and reading pretentious novels. “You’ve never read Kafka,” one asks me later, challenging the rigor of my Ivy League prep school education. I pass the Rock of No Return; I pass the people past the Rock of No return. “This is the longest line I’ve seen all summer,” one of the Public Theatre’s employees tells me. I hear from another that the surest way to get a ticket is to arrive by six. At the latest.
FROM A FATHER’S POINT OF VIEW
It’s after 10:00pm, and the bus stop, next to the B, C, and late-night A Trains, at 79th and Central Park West, is glowing like a light bulb went off. People are still crossing from the Delacorte Theater, after seeing The Winter’s Tale, from the Public Works division, waving for cabs and approaching the shelter. My teen daughter is telling me that the bear in the play, which devours Antigonus, the nobleman ordered to abandon the baby Perdita, represents the King of Sicilia, the uncontrollably jealous and violent Leontes. Her insight makes me think of the Ghost who stalks Hamlet and the reappearing witches in Macbeth, whose predictions set a path for destruction. In As You Like It, to offer an example from a comedy, Orlando learns the art of love from a youth who has, coincidentally, followed him (and who turns out to be the royal he will marry). The Bard haunts and pursues—perhaps none more so than the very audience he delights and scares, mystifies and enthralls.