The stage has been set, the actors are on time and warmed up for the play to begin. The audience is chatting quietly about kids and work while they wait for the band or orchestra to strike up and cue the music. The director nervously wipes the sweat from his brow, silently cursing under his breath about the fact that his sometime-girlfriend has once again decided to date her apartment building's doorman. The lights are subdued and the mood within the theater calms suddenly, like an anti-shockwave of silence that sweeps over every person's tense heart. Even the musical director draws in a pensive breath.

They've done it a thousand, million times, on different nights and at different plays, but the ritual is always the same. Occasional coughing in the back of the house doesn't deter the actors from delivering their lines, always perfectly on time and with the proper tonal inflection. Scenes and acts unfold on the stage, like reverse origami, leaving both spectators and participants breathless with the beauty of the thing called "Theater."

It's an evening just like countless others through history and yet it's as unique as a snowflake, each nuance of every minute as original as each word spoken. It's priceless and timeless, which is an odd dichotomy because the price of admission seemed exhorbitant and the papers declined to take note of the play, much to the consternation of the playwrite.

Life is grand, adventuresome and mesmerising when one sees it through another's eyes. A biographical movie or play still seems foreign even to the subject of the matter, be it Stephen Hawking or Brad Pitt or Alice Walker; they could sit and watch their life's story eclipse and wane, day in and day out, and think, "Is this really my life? Did I actually do that?" Saving other lives, unleashing new ideas upon the world, singing a song... when a creator sees someone else protray them, their craft disappears and suddenly becomes someone else's. "They're just acting," a voice tells the audience on the collective consciousness level, but the actor, the person on that stage, knows differently. For an hour or more, the role they've been cast in is more than just words. It's feelings, action, timing... to them, it's their lives and it's entirely personal- how fortunate for the audience to witness this presentation and not even know that everything happening on the stage is real. The blood is compensorate with the romance and treachery exists throughout, in its subtle forms and cannot be expunged from the stage or life.

The curtain draws, the pews or seats are left empty, the floor scattered with programs and tickets and, perhaps, the occasional beer bottle or cigarette butt. Even though the crowd has left, even though the actors are already at the post-show party and drinking warm wine and eating chalky hors-d'ouvres, the applause from not-so-long-ago resonates through the hall and lingers there until the stage is set again and another night begins.

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances..."

The show must and will go on.

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