. . . ways of not playing out in quite the way you’d envisioned sometimes. At least, that’s one way to put it.
A friend once told me the story of a play he’d been in, or seen, or heard about, or had a friend who had a friend who had heard this story from someone who was in it, or something.
I forget what the play was about, but for the finale, which was some big musical number, the director had decided to involve about 200 live white doves.
These doves were to be confined in nets suspended from the catwalks, and as the final notes of whatever this closing number happened to be reverberated through the theatre, a stagehand was to pull a cord, opening the nets and releasing the birds which would then . . . well, I don’t know. It seems to me that maybe a lot of aspects of this idea weren’t that well thought through. But the idea was that they would come whirling dramatically down, as if from the sky, like a live snowfall, or a rain of really excited kid gloves.
Among the aspects of this idea which were not well thought-out in advance was the the fact that nets slung from the catwalks above the stage would pretty much inevitably hang just below the lights. Stage lights belt out a lot of heat.
So on opening night, the final notes of the closing number reverberated through the theatre, the cast stood there with their hands outspread the way actors in musical productions always stand at the end of the final number, as if imploring the audience — Tell me, am I in Oklahoma? Or is this Les Mis? Because I’m just singing away here, and I really can’t remember — the stagehand in the catwalks pulled the cord, and 200 dead birds fell in unison, with a thud, onto the stage.
So if you’ve been planning your wedding or your graduation party, or making notes for next year’s Easter sunrise service, and you’ve been thinking that maybe a Live Butterfly Release would symbolize new beginnings, and hope, and joy, and resurrection (and ascension, too, for that matter), you might want to proceed with caution.
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