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by Beth Irvine
It’s a standing joke at CentreStage Theatre. After patrons have purchased their seats and walked round the corner to where the art wall displays the works of a local artist, a greeter asks, “Would you like a chance to win the door prize? Just write your name . . .”
Someone is bound to ask in reply, “What’s the prize? A door?” This always results in chuckles as we picture the dynamics and pitfalls of carrying a door home from the theatre. Myself, I see these folks doubled over with doors strapped on back. I envision one of the theatre’s weird doors sticking out of a trunk or poking through a window. Or, inspired by theatre and my inner gremlin, video sequences play of all the things that can happen with doors, like swinging open at inopportune moments, bursting open with surprise and slamming closed on fingers. Every time someone cracks the joke, it cracks me up!
Because a door is not often simply a door, is it? They are panelled with meaning, mullioned with implication, cased with nuance. How many emotional connections do we have with the concept of door? Peeking through French ones; pounding on locked ones; slapping screen ones; listening at keyholes. Lurching-partially-unhinged doors; skeletons-behind-closet doors; close-fitting-storm doors; sealed-or-boarded-up doors. Discussion-closing, breeze-sifting, light-letting, noise-dampening, front, back and revolving doors! And that’s without even glancing at all the songs about White, Black, Red, and Green Doors or whispering about secret, concealed and trap doors.
No wonder so many of our metaphors are about doors: ‘open a new door’, ‘hesitating on the threshold’, ‘close a door on the past’, ‘door number one or door number two - choose!’, ‘doorway to the future.’ I imagine that this endless variety of concepts is the reason why, at CentreStage, we often use the same door for different purposes. Doors with the most personality seem to get the most use. Character—chipped paint, unusual doorknobs - hints at what might be on the other side.
What might be on the other side? The ones that open off stage just lead back to the dressing rooms, but we work our art to create the impression that there is something meaningful on the other side. In everyday life, we have mixed feelings about what we might find there and sometimes the prediction does not agree with the reality.
Coco Chanel said, “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door . . .” and Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Every wall is a door.” Well, there’s food for thought. I think they may be trying to say the same thing but they aren’t approaching it under the same lintel!
Open every door you can, I say. And imagine the best! I agree with John Barrymore who claimed, “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.”
You want to be sure of giving happiness every opportunity to do just that, don’t you?