After posting my thoughts regarding Theatre for One’s current residency at the Signature Theatre Company’s Pershing Square Signature Center, I received a few questions regarding the logistics of attending this abnormal event. As such, I figured it would behoove everyone if I answered them publicly here:
Theatre for One commissioned eight of Signature’s resident playwrights to each write a 10ish-minute new play specifically for this residency. During each week of their three-week residency, Theatre for One performs three of the plays in repertory from 4-7pm Wednesday-Sunday from November 2 through November 21.
You can make a reservation to attend here; reservations open for each performance day approximately 24 hours beforehand. All you have to do is submit your name, phone number, and email address since tickets are totally free. Don’t worry about the specified time slot; the wonderfully lax people operating Theatre for One will accommodate your reservation whenever you arrive. If you’ve snagged a reservation, you’ll be escorted to the front of the line upon arrival and immediately ushered to your seat – the only one in sight – as soon as the patron already inside the ‘theatre’ finishes watching whichever short play they were just treated to. With a reservation, you’ll only have to wait a maximum of ten minutes.
The catch, however, is that you can only make one reservation per day even if you want to see all three plays being performed that week. You can of course reserve one slot per day and come back on consecutive days to watch them all, but if you’d rather save yourself the hassle of traveling to and from the theatre, you’ll be happy to hear that they do indeed have a walk-up for people like you, in addition to those without a reservation. The line has been very tolerable thus far; I’ve never had to wait more than 30 minutes…which may sound like a lot for a 10-minute play, but everyone waiting in line around me have been very keen to discuss these plays.
Even though this is theatre for one in a literal sense, all theatrical experiences are communal by nature since – as T41 implicitly conveys – it’s one of the few art forms that requires at least two people to share a space at the same time: one audience member and one performer. As such, those stepping out from the isolated darkness of the ‘theatre’ into the welcoming communal light of regular life seem to feel a desperate desire to share their thoughts to figure out what the hell they just experienced. In a way, these conversations are a part of T41’s apparent mission to inspire their audiences to ponder all of the roles that they can play in the magical alchemy of theatre.
But back to logistics: to ensure that you don’t see the same play twice, after your first one the aforementioned wonderful operators will hand you this card:
As you can see, they check off each play after you watch them. Before going into the theatre again, you hand the operators your card so they know which play to cue up next of the ones you’ve yet to experience. Needless to say, it’s pretty important not to lose your card if you plan to attend each play on different days in the same week. Since the playwrights did not work on their plays together, you by no means need to see them all to understand each one. Similarly, the order that you watch them also doesn’t matter at all because that’s entirely random. As such, you should feel free to experience them in whatever way best fits your schedule.
BUT, if you have options, I recommend following my lead: make a reservation in advance to skip the line when you first arrive (since you won’t yet have anything to discuss with your fellow audience members in line anyways), but then afterwards hop on line to see the second and third play of the week while talking to others in line about your experiences. Seeing them in as condensed of a time as possible will allow you to more easily detect the thematic connections linking the plays. Since each playwright responds to the phrase ‘in this moment’ in their work and since they all factored in the unique environment in which their plays would be performed, similar thematic currents run through all of them.
Though a few people have asked, I’m not going to divulge specific details regarding any of the plays because one of the best aspects of the whole T41 experience is walking into their theatre having absolutely no idea what to expect, which is a wholly rare phenomenon in this age of excessive advertising. But for those who go to the theatre to witness quality acting in person, I will say that all of the performers – each of whom stars in only one of the plays – uniformly showcase breathtaking focus; you will very rarely be given the opportunity to observe the intense nuances of a performance from such an intimate vantage point.
I may share my subjective observations about the actual plays at a later date, but if I were to boil them down to their thematic essence that you could keep in mind on your (hopefully) imminent visit, I’d say you should consider what the playwrights are trying to communicate regarding the function that they believe theatre plays in the lives of all of its participants. Theatre may be one of the most transient art forms ever created, yet it can still have a permanent effect on its aforementioned participants. To me, all of the plays wrestle in their own way with that relationship between theatre’s literal transience and figurative permanence, which is an interrelated dichotomy similar to the one conveyed in the idea that this – and all shows, really – are indeed Theatre for One for all…
 For all of you mathematicians who already realized those numbers don’t add up: one of the plays is performed during the first AND third week.