Some weeks ago I became aware that ACT hosted a twice-monthly reading of Harold Pinter plays. It seemed interesting, but I never actually made it downtown until the very last reading. Two of my most favorite actors - Michael Winters and Suzanne Bouchard - would be participating, and several others I was familiar with. And, it was the last one. I had to go. I ran into the theater, and guided by someone in the lobby headed towards the Buster's Special Events Room, a long, airy space with gilded chandeliers and rows of chairs. About thirty or forty people were there, students and theater-lovers and a few familiar faces that turned out to be other actors I have seen onstage here and there, during the sixteen-odd years I have been experiencing theater in Seattle.
Frank Corrado - who I am also long familiar with - takes the stage, and it immediately becomes clear that these Pinter readings are his passion, that it is his energy and drive that brings these fortnightly occasions together. Such is the community of actors in Seattle that he has pulled other longtime friends and colleagues in on their night off - Matthew Boston has two more nights of A Thousand Clowns to go - to join in. Can you imagine loving your work, your art, so much that you want to do it on your day off? The actors take their seats, all familiar faces to me, even if I can't quite place two of them, and the play begins. Tonight's work is Moonlight, one of Pinter's last plays, about a dying man, his wife, and his estranged sons, haunted by the memory of a long-dead daughter. Without staging and props I must confess I get confused at times, and have trouble following along.
But it is a fascinating play, biting and sarcastic, unexpectedly gentle, using commonplace cliché to mask deeper emotions. It is funny and sharp, exactly what I expect from Pinter, and heartbreaking, too, even if you didn't know that Pinter was estranged from his own son. And seeing the actors I have loved since childhood up close and in person is so exciting I bounce a little in my seat, find myself sitting up a little taller. What makes it all so exciting is the energy between the actors and the audience, many of whom seem to be old friends. As long as there are people like this, actors with enough passion and love for their work, and theater-goers who appreciate it, then the theater will survive. It will grow. It must.