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The Enigma Machine

On 10/21/2011 the Agency threw our official launch party. The following is a transcript of Artistic Director Andrew Gallant’s speech at the event:

 

“I want to thank you all for coming, for making this event a success and to ask you a question: What is the matter with you? You made a choice tonight to get yourself down here when you could have been at home watching Law and Order: SVU. Don’t deny it, you had a second thought as you reached to lock your door that maybe you’d catch an imaginary case of strep throat or food poisoning and stay home and spend the night in with Detectives Benson and Stabler. Right now, probably on this block, someone is watching SVU and enjoying themselves well enough. I hate to tell you this, to clue you into this fact, YOU ARE NOT watching SVU and I am not TNT or NBC or Bravo or your DVR. Why did you come? You could’ve stayed warm. You could be wearing your pajamas right now and eating take out Chinese!

 

I don’t hold your latent SVU impulses against you. I really don’t. I’ve had them myself, maybe even tonight. I have left my share of paid-in-full tickets at various theater will-call booths because I figured I’d enjoy the Law and Order reruns more a night at the theater. I understand. Going to theater and supporting theater rarely yields such consistent pleasure as a night spent in Dick Wolf’s empire.

 

But here in theaters like this, I don’t go for the merely pleasurable. I don’t want to just have my nights occupied, to get me thru til morning. And I don’t want you to settle for that either. That’s why we’re here. I’m making you a promise tonight that the work The Agency will be different. We don’t want you to watch the theater we make the same way you’d watch a movie or TV. And I hope you’ll hold us accountable because, man, if we’re just trying to make movies on the stage, we’re fighting a losing battle. We don’t have the CGI or the pyrotechnics or the movie stars to whisk you away to waterworld or wherever and we never will. We don’t have the hundred million dollar budgets to make you lose yourself in another world, to forget yourself, to help you disappear. If it’s invisibility you seek, we just don’t have the stuff to butter your popcorn so to speak. If it’s invisibility you crave, you’re here for the wrong reasons.

 

Here things work differently. Here, in the absence of Dolby Surround Sound and 3-D glasses we have to rely on something else. Here we share in something different: the moment. We share in this moment. And this one. And this one. Each one following on the other’s heels before slipping into oblivion. We breathe in each other’s air and we listen to each other’s coughs. We hear your cell-phone ring, we smell your perfume and you smell ours. Unlike with movies or television, here, you AFFECT US. You change our landscape with the smallest of smiles or the raise of an eyebrow. Here you have AGENCY.

 

Right now you are affecting me. You’re messing me up, you’re making me feel things I didn’t feel when I rehearsed yesterday or when I thought about what I was going to say. You’re changing my perfect plan. But here, perfection is not the goal. Our communion is. If you want to watch the same thing twice, you’ve come the wrong place. If you want to watch the same thing twice, I suggest buying a TIVO and comfy chair. I’m here to tell you the devastating truth that tonight won’t happen again. We will never all be in the same place again in our lives. This is it. This week you will go to work, to the gym, ride the train, take out the garbage, iron your shirt, buy an iPhone, skip class, drink too much wine, adopt a dog, lose your keys, do your laundry, fall in love, sprain your ankle, have sex with a stranger but you will CHANGE my friends, you will CHANGE. You won’t be the same person the next time we meet. Neither will I. Because of our unpredictable natures and the chaos of life, the full possibility of our communion, this right here, will have breathed its last by the next time you see the sidewalk. This here is temporary. This is impermanent and unrepeatable. This is theater.

 

Theater is not reliable. Theater is not Law and Order. Theater is not meant to be watched in the dark on comfy couches. It requires more of us. Theater lives in rooms like this, rooms packed with strangers listening to each other, strangers being seen by one another, strangers opening to the profound possibility of their shared moment. In theaters like this, we alter history and the course of our collective lives. The Agency makes theater. You make theater.

 

We are The Agency and so are you.”

 

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