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Reequusing September 30, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

It began back in 1978, in gym class. We both hated gym class, Sue and I, which made it easier to identify each other and form an alliance as means of getting through the semester. It’s possible that as a result of this alliance, we may have even—do I dare say it?—begun to look forward to that hour.

Sue was a star of the drama department, and our mutual love of theater spurred our friendship along. By summer, we somehow had a pair of season tickets to a regional theater in Gettysburg—at least we think we must have, because we saw every show. It was a summer that felt like freedom, what with her having her own VW Bug. (Sometimes I had to shift while she held the driver’s-side door closed with her right hand. But that was a short-lived issue.)

We were falling in love—for isn’t every good friendship a kind of falling in love, a kind of passion for someone else? No, not The Children’s Hour, we used to say. But a passion, nonetheless.

One of the plays we saw that summer was Equus. The production was so well done, the writing so good and powerful that it became a Pivotal Theater Moment for both of us. I have since considered it one of my favorite plays. Later, the summer Sue worked at Fantasyland, we became friends with her coworker, who, it turned out, had been on stage that night, cast in an equine role.

So of course, when it was announced that the production starring Griffiths and Radcliffe would be coming to Broadway, we had to get tickets. We saw it Friday night.

The New York Times gave it a mixed review, but I was enthralled. I found one actor’s performance a bit distracting in its overacting feel, but it wasn’t a main character, and it was easy to get past it. The set was gorgeous, the horse costumes and stud bodies amazing. The horses should have their own pinup calendar. Seriously.

I still love that play.

But the greatest part about seeing Equus was seeing it with Sue thirty years after the first time. It wasn’t just a love for the play being celebrated, but an oddly obvious and timely way to recognize our thirty-year friendship. So here’s to dark psychodrama, to sexy horses, to tabloid-headline nudity, and to Sue: the woman who saved high school for this awkward and introverted Indigo Bunting.


1. Cedar Waxwing - September 30, 2008

What a delightful post! I remember you mentioning having seen Equus before and I recall your mention of Sue and gym class.

I considered trying to get tickets for the play and taking my daughter, but my silly fear of NYC stopped me trying. That and the logistics.

How cool, that you and your friend knew about The Children’s Hour in high school, enough that you would use it to explain what your relationship was not.

I wholeheartedly agree about good friendships being a kind of falling in love.

2. sue marinello - October 1, 2008

You are such a beautiful writer. I love you and cannot imagine my life — certainly the last 30 years — without you. Thanks for everything.

3. Helen - October 1, 2008

A toast to dark psychodrama, to tabloid-headline nudity, to Sue, and to friendship. I’m not toasting horses, sexy or not, since I am not a fan of their wily, hostile ways.

4. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - October 1, 2008

Ek! Ek! Ek-wusssss!

I saw it in Chicago in 1977. It was the national touring company which starred Ken Howard as Dr. Dysart. That production had about fifty audience members sitting on the stage in bleachers, and the actors would sit there next to the audience when they weren’t in a scene. Dr. Dysart sat next to me. I was just a little star-struck, I’m afraid.

If you haven’t already done so, check out this article in The Onion: “Second-Graders Wow Audience with School Production of Equus.”

5. indigobunting - October 1, 2008

CW: Take the train in! My only real fear of NYC is driving there, so I don’t. This time Sue did, but she’s brave and used to it. I had to keep my eyes closed. Way, way scarier than watching an actor gouge out the eyes of actor horses.

Sue: Thank YOU for everything!

Helen: Tim would be totally with you on that one. They are big scary things.

Craig: Oooo, lucky you. This production had some of the audience on a makeshift balcony just above the stage, but I don’t know if that was necessarily a better view. And the Onionlink is brilliant! Thank you! (Apropos of that link, for the record, Sue and I saw The Frogs on Broadway a couple of years ago, Nathan Lane in the lead.)

6. Deloney - October 1, 2008

Friendship, especially a long-lasting friendship, should never be undervalued. We should hold on with our paws and if necessary our claws!

7. rossakatum - October 1, 2008

I’ve never seen Equus, but I have experienced a friendship as falling in love and it is wonderful. How spectacular that you and Sue have held onto each other for so long!

8. Mali - October 1, 2008

Wow, a 30 year friendship. I have a couple of those, but we see each other rarely, as I live on another island now … if not another universe. I’m kinda envious of the two of you.

9. indigobunting - October 3, 2008

Ah Mali, given that Sue and I live only 4 hours apart, you’d think we’d see each other more. But in adulthood, once-a-yearish actually is a pretty good track record, eh? And we talk enough that it doesn’t SEEM so long since we’ve seen each other…

BTW, your censored creative writing over at Notes from the Dreamtime commands my utter admiration.

10. She She - October 3, 2008

My mother went to see Equus when I was 11 and she brought me back a t-shirt with a horse’s head on it (made of blocks). I wore it everday for two weeks until Jeff Roach made fun of me. It still sits in my dresser drawer waiting for Owen to get big enough to wear it.

11. She She - October 3, 2008

Addendum: I’ve never seen the play though!

12. Adam Byrn Tritt - October 3, 2008

I must comment, though for reasons which have nothing to do with this play. I have never seen it. I have never been part of a reading for it. I have much more experience on stage than I have in front of it. I can even say I have more experience writing for the stage than I have experience in front of it. Strange, that.

But, and here is why I comment, now I know what that place with the giant apple and Paul Bunyan and the lil train is called. Fantasyland! Of course. My parents took me thee when I was terribly young and it is one of the few clear memories I can muster. Gee, I guess trauma is always held clearest.

But all this time I could not discover what it was called. Then, following your link there was instant recognition. Sure, this was followed by a curious mix of attraction and revulsion, but, at what price discovery.

I should read the play, maybe.

13. indigobunting - October 3, 2008

She She: I love that blockhead Equus! It’s easily findable online, still, for anyone who wants to take a look. I had a copy of the paperback with that on it, which, to my dismay, I cannot locate. This means it’s either (a) not shelved/alphabetized correctly, (b) is still at my parent’s house (!), or (c) I let it go in some fit of book clearing. I really want to read it again.

Adam: Seriously? You were at Fantasyland in Gettysburg? (Where did you grow up? I assume you were on vacation.) Wow. It closed years ago, and yes, when Sue and I were 18, and Sue was working the stage show there, we found the place totally campy and surreal. I too had gone there as a child. I can see why you may have found it traumatic.

I feel so close to you right now.

14. Adam Byrn Tritt - October 3, 2008

I was born in Boston (Brookline, actually) and grew up in Perth Amboy and Sommerset NJ. After three hellish years in Charelston SC (cumeere boy, lesee you Jewboy got horns) we moved to North Miami. Florida. Repeated attempts to escape had faltered. We made it as far as Palm Bay. Still, it is worlds away from South Florida.

I went to Fantasyland on one of the many daytrips to Wills Eye Hospital in Philly. I must not have been the trip when we had a car accident or the one when I got flu. Nor the one when I got my head stuck in the elevator or the one when I fell off that pole. One of the other trips. Mind you, these were not the reason for going to Wills, but just events surrounding my twice-yearly trips there.

I love Philly.

15. indigo bunting - October 5, 2008

Adam: Have you written a book? Or a screenplay? Because this trailer’s got my appetite downright whetted.

16. Adam Byrn Tritt - October 5, 2008

Me? A book? Other than the two I have written, no. A third is in the works and, I hope, a collection of essays when I hit 100 essays (Craig?) but, other than that and those and these and such, no.

Screenplays? Yes but they have not gone anywhere because the producers have gone just as far. But there is still the possibility. I have done script-doctoring for some films that are called, I think, grindhouse. But my knack for real-sounding dialogue seems to be a drawback for that genera and the superflous cursing is un-removed and, I’m sure, the films unwatched.

As for autobiography, there is probably enough material written in the essaic that it could make a small, chronological event between cardboard covers. But small is fine. I am young and a small person so a small book of my life suits me greatly..

It would be missing the FBI files though. I just can’t get them to send me those. It is strange treat to see one’s own name in redaction.

17. indigo bunting - October 6, 2008

Adamus: Ah, I was in fact believing that simply your hospital/Fantasyland road trips were fodder for their own Major Motion Picture. Or Great American Novel.

That pesky bureau.

18. bettyslocombe - October 6, 2008

As David Thomson puts it: ‘It is like falling in love without the torment’
whereas my speciality was usually the torment without the falling in love. But not always.
Equus is one of those plays isn’t it? I saw it in ’76, with Colin Blakely and Peter Firth, quite probably with my thirty year friend, now in Bombay…..

19. indigobunting - October 7, 2008

Mrs. S: Well put by Thomson, well put by you. And oh, sounds like you saw a good production…

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