I brought my husband and our friends Jeff and Melissa to a preview showing of the Best of PlayGround on Thursday, which consists of six short plays that debuted during the most recent season of Monday Night PlayGround and have now been given a full production. So even though I’d already seen all the plays before, it was a chance to see them polished. It’s part of PlayGround’s Festival of New Works at Thick House in San Francisco.
PlayGround recently bought the venue and is planning some much-needed renovations, including air conditioning. But because PlayGround has a sense of humor (and wants to raise money to help make these renovations happen), the theater is full of funny little reminders that the management understands that the venue is likely to be rather warm. Along the walls that lead to the bathroom are nicely framed quotes on the wall about heat. And the concessions stand features $5 fans. But my favorite touch was in the bathroom: free travel-sized deodorants in a bucket with an explanatory sign.
While we waited for the house to open, I was suddenly overcome with nausea and felt like I was going to fall down. I headed for the bathroom, but the ground felt unreliable, and I couldn’t walk straight. And I swear I wasn’t drunk! (But I do wonder if some of the other theater patrons thought I was…) Dave supported me so I could walk outside for some air, and Melissa brought me a cup of ice water. I started to feel better (and the show was about to start), so we took our seats.
The seating consists of folding chairs on successive steps with very little room to maneuver if someone needs to get by. My seat was on the aisle, so I stood to let people pass to inner seats, but the space was tight. I noticed that the row in front of us had an open spot next to the camera, so I stepped down to create more room for people to get by. But it wasn’t a step–it was a two-foot drop. I miscalculated and I was dizzy. So I fell against the camera tripod and the recording equipment. The theater had been full of chatting people who suddenly grew silent and stared at me as Jeff helped me up. I apologized to nobody in particular about knocking over the camera and then tried making light of it, saying something stupid like “It’s all part of the show!”
Seated again, I became aware of several pains where various parts of my body had come into contact with either the ground or the recording equipment. Luckily I was wearing jeans, so my knee was skinned less than it would have been had I been wearing a skirt. My right arm was skinned in three places and was beginning to swell. And I still felt unsteady despite sitting in a chair. Jeff created an on-the-spot ice pack with a crinkly plastic bag to apply to the inner part of my upper arm, which had suffered the biggest impact. I was embarrassed but happy that the show was about to start so that I could focus on something else. Two people set up the tripod again while Annie Stuart, the casting director, introduced the show.
The woman sitting directly in front of me turned around when I tried adjusting the ice pack so that it was comfortably in the right spot. I made a mental note to keep it still during the plays themselves. Between plays there were brief periods for set changes, which I took as a good time to move the ice pack to my knee that was beginning to hurt. I’m assuming that the crinkling sound of the bag disturbed the woman in front of me because she turned toward me again and whispered to her companion. I moved it back to my arm during the next gap between plays, but I must have turned it upside down because icy water began to soak the side of my shirt. I quickly turned it upright and refocused on the show. But now I was kind of wet, and I couldn’t tell if the bag was still leaking or not. So even though it was during the play, I removed the bag from my injury and placed it on the ground, making a few more crinkly noises that did not escape the annoyed woman in front of me.
The rest of the show went on without any incidents, and by the time we rose to leave, the dizziness was gone. I was happy to move on.
Everything felt fine until I had to look straight above me to turn on the projector that is attached to the ceiling. The room began to spin. Fortunately I did not fall down.
When I got home, I started Googling like crazy and decided I probably have vertigo. This could get interesting…