Cygnet Theatre's production of Lauren Yee's "The Great Leap." Karli Cadel Photography
March 11, 2020. The last time I sat in a theater watching a live performance.
It was the San Diego Rep's production of Madhuri Shekar's "House of Joy." I remember enjoying the play and the performances and, as always, savoring the communal experience of theater with my fellow patrons and the conversation pre-show with my friends and colleagues.
I long for those joys. I dream of embracing them again.
It has been nearly 10 months since the opening and, as it turned out, closing night of "House of Joy." In the interim, theater makers in San Diego have ached and sacrificed and at the same time clung to their passion and tried to present meaningful programming best they could in a virtual format. Some of it has been satisfying, some not. But they have not given up.
Before March 11, San Diego theatergoers had already been treated to a wealth of memorable productions. They should not be forgotten.
The standout for me was Cygnet Theatre's production of Lauren Yee's "The Great Leap." That, along with the staging the previous year of Yee's "Cambodian Rock Band" at La Jolla Playhouse, was emotionally gripping theater of the kind that makes not having live theater today so wrenching. Its Tiananmen Square climax still resides in my soul.
Watching Netflix's film adaptation of August Wilson's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" reminded me why I was so engrossed in the Old Globe's production of Wilson's "Jitney" last year. Its rich language is woven in pain but also in tenderness.
Early 2020 also brought us: Moxie Theatre's adventurous "Red Bike"; North Coast Rep's hilarious "The Outsider," La Jolla Playhouse's technically dazzling "Fly"; and of course the aforementioned "House of Joy" at the San Diego Rep, which I never got to actually review. It deserved high praise.
So do the theater artists in every craft carrying on since that March 11. I await with anticipation their eventual return to the stage as I await the rediscovery of the joys they bring me and all of us.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.