Rémi Pierre was busy telling me that it was "magical" to be in Cleveland, where his much-lauded 2016 work Champs (aka On Fifth Avenue) is one of the buzziest shows at the Cleveland Play House. The play won the Playhouse's live-action theatrical award in the best new play category and is playing to nearly full houses week after week.
We were in Cleveland, the same city where Carlos Carrera's 2017 The Orphans' Home Cycle is working hard to rebound from a string of box-office disappointments. And where was the patron in the front row for Maria Irene Fornes's Virtual Shores, which just finished its world premiere at the Cleveland Play House?
Fornes worked in silence for nearly an hour, yet she was only pleased when I mentioned how I'd appreciated sitting just a few rows away during her silence. And I was glad to hear that dozens of other people had gathered at the final curtain and supported it as a "great production."
But I believe no one cares to sit within sight of those back there without turning their gaze to the lighting technician, or to the talent at work that sees that mediumly-lit rectangular space as something enormous. Since Fornes's astonishing use of the stage is currently dying down, the play's sustained brilliance will depend on her audience's opportunity to see beyond the glowing screen that sticks out directly in front of the audience.