AT RISE: Bare florescent light. Stage is mostly black with painted remnants of two or three previous shows painted on the floor and walls. Bare set. STEVE and JENNY are standing center stage, contemplating their surroundings.
STEVE: (Indicates bare stage.) Where was your favorite moment performed?
JENNY: My favorite moment that I performed?
JENNY: (Walks to spot on Northwest corner.) Here’s where I broke the cell phone in Dead Man’s Cell Phone. It’s where I learned that I could cry on command night after night. (Crosses to Southeast corner.) But this is where I got to make out with Jess Weaver.
Since 2010, Springs Ensemble Theatre (SET) has called 1903 E Cache La Poudre home. The 26’ x 27’ (ish) black box seems like an empty room, but those in the know understand it’s a portal to other worlds. At times the space has morphed into a radio station, a medieval castle, an interrogation room (a few times…), a prison, a dystopian nightmarescape, ancient Rome, a western saloon, a waiting room in the White House, and more apartments and living rooms than one space could possible hold. Not to mention several variations of the afterlife. And, now, due to a steeply increased rent, SET is leaving.
Right now, Steve Emily and I are standing in the remnants of a demon-infested treehouse and a Sunday school classroom. (The magic of theatre is that we can be in all these places at once.) It’s our last chance to stand in the space before leaving 1903 E Cache La Poudre for our new theatre home. But Steve, me, and about two dozen others are wandering in and out of the space one more time. And Steve asks me about my favorite performance moment and where they happened. I tell him, but my answer feels incomplete.
JENNY: Where were your favorite moments?
(STEVE moves center stage.)
STEVE: This is where Matt and I confronted each other in A Steady Rain. (Crosses to Southwest corner.) And this is where I died.
We are standing on a floor thick with layers of paint. If a geologist took a core sample, just a small one, less than an inch, there would be a record of the worlds that existed before. The beige-y layer is where we created a beach. The white is where we created a classroom. The wooden one, with the fine grains, is a cabin in the woods. Interspersed between these layers are stripes of black, where we erased those worlds and prepped to build the next one.
I think about my favorite moments and my thoughts drift. Naming my favorite performance spots is cathartic. I do feel better. But Steve’s question triggers other memories. More has happened in this room than my performances. I learned how to create a lighting design here, so some memories are in the air. I hear Sarah’s voice saying something about “daisy chains” and I remember nodding and smiling like I knew what she meant. Kitty teaching me how to coil an electrical wire correctly. Matt painting and complaining about painting. Jodi putting Holly and I through our Rasa Boxes paces, turning us into “emotion athletes.” Steve trying to build trees out of gauzy material and sewing hoops. Emory’s Big Gulp cups once rested there, and there, and over there. I remember Micah and June dancing.
And I was standing in the Northeast corner when I got the call that my high school sweetheart, Ryan, had died. We were holding auditions for Lonesome Hollow and Jon and Steve had called a break. I saw I’d missed a call from Ryan’s mom and I called her back. She told me the news and when Steve walked back in, I was melting down in the corner.
A few years ago.
STEVE: You can go.
JENNY: There’s nothing for me to do this late. I’ll finish.
So, I sat and watched auditions. The process helped me get a grip on my emotions.
(If you’re curious, I was sitting at a table center west for the rest of that evening.)
I learned to use power tools on the back patio. I’ve rung in at least three New Years in the lobby. I’ve prepped food, swept dust, shoveled snow, cleaned bathrooms, and I’m pretty sure bits of my hair are painted into the walls.
And on my last day in the space, surrounded by friends, I handed over the keys I stole, watched the SET sign come down, hugged so many people, and wished things had landed different, you know? That the leaving had at least been by choice, rather than being priced out.
Still, on this last day, I met my friend Kaitlin’s baby boy, Jackson at SET. And that’s another memory I get to keep.