The news tonight is that there are rioters rioting in the streets of Minneapolis.
I go out to see for myself.
I see folks on the pavement and they look like they are having a riot but
they say to me they are dancers dancing not rioters rioting and I believe
them. One of them points out that the proof they are dancing is that
they are having a good time. If they were rioting, they wouldn’t be happy.
I have to confess to not having thought of that, that dancers are happy
while rioters are otherwise. That makes a lot of sense to me. Dancers do
tend to be happy, I can say with some certainty; I know this because
I too have done some dancing, but I really know little about rioting.
I go next to one of the ushers, a large man in a blue uniform. He’s wearing
a helmet. I figure he must work for the theatre. First thing, I ask if I need
a ticket. He, too, seems happy, because he bursts out laughing. He says
I must be joking. Don’t I know matinees are free?
This cheers me immensely. Had I known beforehand, I tell the usher, I could
have invited my girlfriend or even my parents. I notice then that the usher
is carrying a pistol. I’ve been in theatres around the world, in Tokyo, London,
even in Moscow, but I have never seen an usher carrying a loaded weapon.
When I see that, I decide not to ask for a program. I think I’d better look for
a seat. I wonder if the ushers are having trouble controlling the audience.
They are unruly. I see them setting fire to what I thought was part of the set.
My God, they have knocked an old man down and are kicking him in the head.
I start walking toward the sunken stage and public auditorium. It is crowded so I figure
that like the other folks I’ll have to stand. I want a seat in the orchestra but I notice
that there are really no bad seats. I already have a great view. I assume the man
on the ground is part of the show. I shout Bravo!
The dancers are clearly in the middle of a scene. I must have missed the opening.
They are shouting and swirling, kicking their legs and waving banners and posters.
One is burning the flag. I can’t quite make out what they are saying. I figure
they are doing some sort of medieval pageant, a festival, or perhaps even a wedding.
One thing I keep hearing is “it matters, it matters” (what matters?) and then
almost in unison I catch something like “can’t breathe.” I decide then that
I must be watching a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, which happens
to be a favorite.
It looks to have an almost entirely Afro-American cast, which
I think is a neat innovation. I like creative casting. I must have walked
in on the fight scene, because the actors are very excited.
Like me, they are having a ball and so, it seems, is the rest of the audience.
I can’t wait to read the reviews. The local paper used to have such a great theatre critic,
but now they employ a string of people who write about what’s called entertainment.
Movies, theater, Rock & Roll: it is all covered by the same people. They can no longer
tell one from the other. This is great public theatre but is it art? We shall see.