TheaterWe all need to escape. Every once in a while, we need to leave our real-world challenges behind and just walk away. But for those of us with spinal cord injuries, traveling can be difficult, to say the least. So what do we do?

One of the most rewarding ways I’ve found to get away from it all is to attend a live theater production. I have always been a theater fan. When I was 7 or 8, my parents took me to see a professional production of “The Sound of Music,” and I was hooked. My friends tell me how much time I spend at the cinema, but it can entertain me, make me think, stir many emotions and allow me to travel to worlds that I will never be able to experience firsthand. Sitting in a dark theater in my wheelchair or in a theater seat transports me like nothing else can. In the past few weeks alone, I’ve traveled to fairy tales with master composer and playwright Stephen Sondheim, experienced four generations of a family in Europe with Oscar and Tony award-winning writer Tom Stoppard, j enjoyed the glitz and glamor of a night at the Moulin Rouge, and poked fun at America’s strange political landscape in 2022.

The best plays and musicals are created through magical collaborations. The script, lighting, costumes, sound, actors, sets and more come together to capture our minds and hearts. We walk out of the theater having felt things we never would have felt if we hadn’t been in that room at the time.

And theater brings another essential element to our lives. In theatre, we actively participate in a common experience with other human beings. The actors on stage share their talents and their stories with us, we share them with other spectators, and the public reacts by giving back our reactions to the actors. This give-and-take cannot happen in a movie theater or in front of our televisions. No matter how well written or beautifully acted a film, it will always be missing a key element of that shared experience. We’ve all felt the shared joy of an audience laughing together, or the breath of 200 people in a powerful moment of drama. And when the lights come back on at the end of the show, those special shared moments are gone. Of course, the actors will go back on stage the next evening, but this precise moment, this performance, in front of this audience of which we were a part, will never happen again. It’s part of the magic.

The theater began as a religious ritual. In ancient Greece, Athenians told sacred myths and paid homage to the gods with theatrical performances. Before most people could read, they learned the lessons and stories of religion more often from actors than from priests. Even today, children often learn their first Bible lessons through plays. And for me, a theater remains a sacred shared space. It is a place of mystery, magic and joy. This is where we go for our prayers to be answered – prayers for human connection and prayers for our souls to be touched by great art. It seizes us by the heart and gives our brain an electric charge.

So, if you can make it to the theater, treat yourself to a few hours of escape. Whether you see a laugh-out-loud comedy, a heartbreaking drama, a uplifting musical, a portrayal of an intriguing historical figure, or any other form of theatre, let yourself be immersed in the moment. . And as soon as you get home from the theater… go online and buy your next set of tickets!

Howard Menaker is a retired communications and public affairs executive with more than 30 years of experience in international corporations and professional associations. Previously, he worked as a lawyer, specializing in civil litigation. He now spends much of his time serving on non-profit boards, including a leading theater company and a historic house museum in the Washington, DC area. He and his husband divide their time between Washington and Rehoboth Beach, DE.

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