The theater where I’ll be performing We Outran the Sun is the Shubert at NYU Grad Acting, on the 5th floor of 721 Broadway in New York.  I met Damon there last week to look at the space and talk about the projection surface: a canvas collaged with pages taken from the yellow legal pads I use to write lists and lyrics, as well as notes and letters from the people in the portraits.  As I sat in that theater, I thought of the history it holds for me.  I spent my entire second year of grad school performing different plays in that space: Angels in America, Moonchild, and A Month in the Country.  I worked in that theater with actors and designers who are now a part of the song cycle:  Stacey, Ciera, Gretchen and Freddy.

(L: As Prior Walter in Angels in America, R: putting on makeup for Moonchild)

Schubert with a “c” was an Austrian composer who wrote a number of song cycles. Shubert without the “c” refers to three brothers (Sam, Lee, and Jacob) who were theatrical producers.  The Shubert brothers formed a company in the late 19th century which now owns seventeen of the Broadway houses in New York.  By 1929 they owned, operated, and booked over a thousand different theaters across the country, many of which shared a name: The Shubert.  The corporation continues to produce theater, and I’m sure that an endowment from this company led NYU to name the small theater at Grad Acting after them as well.  For some reason, I always thought they spelled their name like the Austrian composer; Shane-Ann Younts (who taught me voice at NYU and has been following the blog) recently pointed out my mistake.  I’ll be performing at the Shubert (hold the c).

(R: the composer Franz Schubert, L: the producer Lee Shubert)

My roommate Chris Grant (“You Only Live Twice”) recently helped pack up his childhood home in Texas.  His mother had remarried and was moving to Wisconsin. He went home to collect the things he had in that house (as well as help her prepare for the move) and ended up being the person who did the final sweep of the floors and locked the doors.  When he came back to New York we talked about the power that physical space has on memory, how it evokes certain people and moments in your life.  I can’t imagine my parents moving, though I’m sure it’s a possibility as they get older.  Standing in the middle of the lawn or on the steps to our basement, I see or feel the past I have there.  The Shubert is much same.

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