Theatre Gothic

When people ask about your show, you tell them to come. You don’t know why you do this. That is the last thing you want.

The curtain ripples, but when you look, there is no one there.

They collect everyone’s cell phones before showtime. To avoid mic interference, they said. The show goes on and there is still mic feedback. You suspect your phone has been taken so you can’t call for help.

You’re asked to get something from the dusty basement prop shop. No fucking way, you say. No goddamn way in hell.

No matter how many makeups wipes you use, it won’t come off. It won’t come off. Your reflection is not your own.

They call five minutes until showtime. Everyone yells thank you five and then rushes for the bathroom. Why do we all wait until five to use the bathroom. Why do we do this to ourselves.

The pre-show rituals are arcane. They are cryptic and unholy. No one seems to notice.

There is sawdust in the scene shop. That makes sense. There is also sawdust on the mezzanine. That does not make sense.

One day, the turntable starts turning the other way. The cast performs the entire show backwards.

An actor speaks. A techie cries. These events always happen in succession but no one has made the connection yet.

The stage manager brings in a whole cardboard tray of Starbucks cups, but they do not share. All the coffee is for them.

“Cue one, go.” Nothing happens.

We are late for curtain time. We are always late for curtain time. The audience is disgruntled but powerless.

musical theatre gothic

•it’s tech week. it’s so hot under the lights. you haven’t been home in four days. you’re so sweaty. you’re so miserable. and it keeps getting hotter. is it hell week? or just hell?

•the sound effects don’t work. the sounds don’t work. the sounds you make don’t work. you open your mouth and try to make a sound. it doesn’t work.

•your makeup is too orange. you try to scrub it off, and then you realize it’s already gone. this is what your face looks like.

•you try to take off your character shoes. you realize that they are now your feet.

•you can only speak in your character’s accent now. you don’t remember what it’s like without it. haven’t you always spoken that way?

•people dressed all in black are always hurrying by. they never slow down. once, you bump into one. they have no face.

•your prop is missing. you begin to doubt you ever had a prop in the first place.

•someone is napping backstage. they cannot be woken up.

•your leads are dating now. your leads are married now. your leads are parents now. your leads are grandparents, are retired, are dying in each other’s arms. it’s only been two weeks.

•"we need to get this down by opening night,“ barks your director. you’re always working towards opening night. opening night never comes.

Theatre Gothic

- You dream of the stage. The spotlight shines on you, the audience holds their breath for you to speak. Your lines, someone mouths to you. You do not know who, you did not see them, you did not hear them. You cannot remember your lines. You look down, a cold sweat forming on your brow. You notice that you are in your underwear. The audience stares. You are not dreaming.

- Backstage, you wait. Standing alone in the darkness of the wing, a black shape shifts past you. You have no proof of them other than the breeze felt by their passing and the shadow you thought you caught in the corner of your eye. Another shape moves past, behind you. Another, in front. Perhaps they aren’t passing you, perhaps they’re coming closer, together. The techies. They move.

- You wait in center stage for the light to come on. It is only dark. It has been dark for as long as you can remember. A low buzzing can be heard, and the stage lights begin to glow, softly, growing brighter, quickly. They are so bright now. You cannot see the audience. You look down, you cannot see your hands. It is so bright. You can no longer feel your body, you are no longer a physical form. 

- You shower after the show, trying to wash off the stage makeup. The water runs flesh color at first, then black. There is so much makeup. Glitter falls from your hair. Why is there glitter? You think. I will never be clean, you whisper into the dark recesses beyond the drain. Eyelashes are falling now, in clumps, whether they are fake or real you do not know. Everything falls, everything is washed away. You become faceless, and yet streaks of waterproof mascara remain. 

- You are only called by your character name, you can not remember the last time you were called by your real name. You can not remember your real name. You are changing.

- Red leather, yellow leather, they chant. The step closer to you, circling you. There is no escape. They chant softly at first, growing louder, walking faster. They break into a jazz run, they are screaming now. You try to chant as well, you try to keep up. You are sweating, yelling. Red leather, yellow leather. Red leather yellow leather. They are coming towards you, waiting for you to fail, to fall. Red yellow, leather pleather, you finally slip. They close in. You have lost.

Theatre Gothic

-You stare into the bright blackness beyond the stage. Someone in the shadows is moving a search light. It roves over the stage, hunting. You wonder what they are searching for. You hope it isn’t you.
-Lights pop and explode. A sandbag falls. The curtain catches you in the back of the head. The theater does not like you. The theater wants you gone. But belligerently, stupidly, you persist.
-There are two of you now. You have two names and two voices. You wake up in the morning and a voice is whispering your lines. Which one of you is the real one? You do not remember.
-Who is playing the piano? No one knows. Who is singing? Everyone is singing. No one is singing.
-You are backstage and everything is black and red. You crouch out of the light. You hide behind the prop table. If anyone sees you, something terrible will happen.
- Your face is strange and thick with makeup. You do not look like you. You wonder if the circus will take you away soon.
- Did you sleep? Did you eat? Did you go to school today? You can’t remember. Time is only real inside the theater.
- You look at the rehearsal schedule. The word “hell” stares back at you. That’s where you belong now.
-You move in carefully planned ways. You do not deviate. You move the way you are meant to. You do it again and again and again.
- Someone is sawing. Another person moves past you covered in paint. You do not know them. They frighten you. They are too strong, and they do not answer to you. “Without them there would not be a show,” you whisper to yourself. You are grateful for the set, but they dress in black and speak words you do not understand. You say nothing.
-Left is not left and right is not right. Up is down and down is up. Physics do not exist in the theater.

musical theatre fandom gothic

• there is a new meme. you didn’t see its creation, but you join in anyway. everyone is joining in. we’re having fun with this meme, they say. nobody created this meme.

• there is a user without a face. no, there are a few. is robert mr broadway? is godlesschromolume robert? is mr sondheimite?

•the patti lupone parody accounts are abundant, but they are all run by the same woman: patti lupone

• somebody is posting in a foreign language. another speak of plays you have not seen. you reblog the post, out of fear.

• ‘revive chess’, chant the mob. 'revive chess!’ but you cannot revive chess. you will not revive chess. you will not survive chess.


3.11 Marfa - Marfa Myths *
3.13 Kansas City - The Record Bar
3.14 Minneapolis - Triple Rock Social Club
3.15 Milwaukee - Turner Hall Ballroom
3.16 Chicago - Thalia Hall
3.17 Cleveland - Beachland Ballroom
3.18 Detroit - El Club
3.20 Toronto - The Mod Club
3.21 Montreal - Rialto Theater
3.22 Philadelphia - Union Transfer
3.24 New York - Webster Hall
3.25 Boston - Brighton Music Hall
3.27 Washington DC - 9:30 Club
3.29 Athens - Georgia Theatre
3.30 Asheville - The Grey Eagle
3.31 Atlanta - Terminal West
4.01 New Orleans - One Eyed Jacks
4.03 Houston - Walter’s
4.04 Austin - The Mohawk
4.07 Denver - Gothic Theatre
4.08 Salt Lake City - Metro Music Hall
4.16 Coachella - Indio *
4.23 Coachella - Indio *

All dates with @thebaberainbow except *
Tickets at
Poster by Lena Garcia Farris

American Performing Arts Gothic

Your local regional theatre is doing Les Miserables again, except this time it’s set in Harry Truman’s White House. You’ve only heard of one of the five shows in your touring presenter’s season. The other four are starting Diana Degarmo. Shen Yun is coming to town for the fourth time this year. You’ve never heard of anyone attending it and the theatre they listed on the ads doesn’t exist.

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
—  Shakespeare, Macbeth

I had a dream about doing theatre last night. It was hilarious more in retrospect than at the time, because it was like…ur-theatre. Theatre distilled down to component parts without any actual content. I woke up laughing about what the fuck, theatre.

Elements of the play included:

  • A woman in a spectacular dress giving an opening monologue while a bunch of other women lay on the stage motionless
  • No set pieces in an arena-style stage configuration
  • Another play being performed across the hall (Shakespeare)
  • One single person in modern dress
  • One person in a costume exactly like one they wore earlier but with a single ludicrous addition
  • Scholarly program notes debating exactly how many people die offstage and what their significance might be
  • Someone yelling and throwing their arms upwards with a sudden drop to black for intermission
  • That nervous little sidelong-look-and-flounce that almost every actor does when standing in the lobby waiting to enter through the audience
  • The theatre’s lobby decorator deciding theatrical posters from past performances was a super-original idea
  • Ushers who visibly could not give less of a fuck

There were other elements but I forget what they were.

It felt like my brain has been spending the last ten years grinding all the theatre I’ve worked on and gone to into one single episode of ULTRA THEATRE.