The Best Gift

The best present . . .

Each year, as I prepare to usher out the old and welcome in the new, (this is symbolic, not realistic on my part – ask my wife), I recount the past year and try to be thankful for what gifts I’ve been privileged to receive.  In my early youth, it was probably a bike, or a game …  or who remembers?   In my adolescence and for a good time beyond, it was the company and opportunity of friends.    But as I’ve grown to some small sample of maturity, I’ve discovered that what I cherish most is my family and friends, and the best gift I’ve ever received is the gift of theatre.

While the art form is one that I have followed and participated in for many years, this past year seems to have opened new vistas.  In going to shows around Los Angeles, my attention was drawn to the fact that there are some exceptional shows being produced here.  Okay, not every one of them was exceptional, but I saw so many world-class performances that astounded me.

While this is not a complete list of amazing work here in LA, there are some theatres and shows that need be mentioned. Where would LA be without the brilliant works that go on at the Fountain Theatre, the multicultural reach of The 24th St. Theatre. We have the unwavering voice of The Celebration Theatre, the depth of The Antaeus Theatre, the fearless Furious Theatre, the audacity of City Garage. There’s the complexity of Rogue Machine, and the challenges of Deaf West.  The Matrix brought us We Are Proud To Present….. an evening of complete transformation.  And this is just a few.  We would be remiss not to mention The Falcon, or Los Angeles Theatre Center, or The Road Theatre.  There’s the Interact, Sacred Fools, Theatre of Note, Boston Court, The Blank, and so many many more.  Not all can be mentioned, but many will long be remembered.

The point is, if your want to see great theatre, not just good theatre, but great life transformational theatre, Los Angeles produces a lot of it. With a little investigation, and a smidge of research, you can find it. Not just a few shows a year, but several different shows every single week, brilliant profound theatre that would stand against any in the world if Theatre were a competitive sport.

The great gift that I received this year was I got to see more and different theatre than I have in the past. I opened my eyes and said, what have I missed, who is producing something I should see, and how do I find it?  This amazing city offered me an answer. Much as the three Ghosts of Christmas opened up Ebenezer Scrooge’s eyes to the possibilities of his life, so too do the seemingly countless theatres of Los Angeles offer gateways to our hearts and portals to our souls.

And much like Ebenezer, we too must come to a willingness to seek out the possibilities.  Looking for a play to see can be an adventure in and of itself.  So many opportunities, and almost all of them for so little time.

Each year my passions and appreciation for theatre grows.  While once I saw theatre as a road for personal ambition, over time I’ve come to relish it as the beacon of human consciousness.   Not just ethereal dreams, but solid forey’s into the potential of us all.

Through theatre I’ve learned to reach beyond just my nuclear family, and embrace peoples and cultures, and to celebrate differences.  Sharing theatre makes us all a little more aware, a little more caring.  Now isn’t that’s a gift worth having?

About Peter Finlayson

Peter Finlayson is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-chief of FootLights magazine and While working on a prelaw program at the University of Michigan, he happily got involved with the theatre program. Much to his mother’s chagrin, law school never happened, but in a career spanning more than 4 decades, Peter has performed, directed or designed more than 150 productions. In his spare time, he is working on a new play. You can follow him on Twitter @Thtrdog .

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