The following is New York Times video coverage of BAM's closing reception for The Royal Shakespeare Company's final performance of King Lear, starring Ian McKellan, which took place on Sunday, September 30th.
As the reception was drawing to a close around 8:45pm, a few remaining BAMmie stragglers (including myself, my colleague Jen and her boyfriend) were invited to continue celebrations at the King Lear after party. The location? Ian McKellan's rented loft in Chinatown.
Honestly, it took us a few minutes to decide whether or not we should go.
Mostly, it was, "We are total strangers to the cast. This is their last night in New York together, who are we to crash a party?" But, then, "Well, how can you turn down an invite to Ian McKellan's house?"
So, off we went.
I was scared, mostly nervous, because I didn't know anyone in the cast, let alone Ian.
Within minutes, we were over the Manhattan Bridge, parking and found ourselves infront of the address. I pushed buzzer #6. We slipped onto the sleek elevator and in a moment, the doors slide open and we were in the loft (it was one of those apartments where the elevator opens into the apartment).
Jolly, mostly inebriated English actors were drinking and chatting and scarcely noticed us. Ian was in a purple tie-dyed shirt and was flitting around between the living room and kitchen. I was happy with this lack of attention, it helped us settle in. Within a few minutes, we were meeting a few other BAMmies who'd made their way there.
Soon, our conversation was drowned out by an iPod stereo blasting Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools." This seemed to be the magic cue, because everyone, Ian included, to get up and started dancing.
It was like a scene from a movie. A movie about a group of friends who are actors and have gone through so much strife and hardship and this is the closing montage that reflects how there were such good times, and even though life moves on, love lingers... It was incredible, but I realized in the next moment, this wasn't my group of friends. And, suddenly, I felt a little like an intruder.
I was glad to have said yes and come and experienced it. As I said good-bye to Jen and the gang, I passed Ian on the way out. I reached out and touched his arm, he turned his scraggly-bearded faced and wild mane, and I said, "Thank you for having me."
He considered me for a split second, then his grin spread across his face, and as it did, his eyes were forced to take cover from the folds of wrinkles, while he reached out his arms and leaned towards me. I went to kiss his left cheek, but he went left. I quickly recovered and went to kiss his right cheek, but he went right. So, we ended up in the middle and kissed right on the lips.
Time stood still for moment: I was tiny, had furry feet and was scurrying through a forest*. A white, wispy forest. There was a slight breeze. The ground was soft, mossy. The road goes ever on and on/Down from the door where it began/ Now far ahead the road has gone...
And the next moment, we were back in Chinatown, walking together, side-by-side, to the elevator lobby to wait quietly, politely for the elevator to come.
"Do you have far to go?"
"Queens. It's not so bad."
"Goodness... quite a walk from here. You are alone? You'll be okay?"
"I know my way around from here, thank you."
"Yes, it's a nice neighborhood. No one will bother you."
The door opened, I stepped in. He stood and waved at me until the door closed.
Let them a journey new begin/
But I at last with weary feet/
Will turn towards the lighted inn/
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.
*I know that Gandalf never kisses one of the Hobbit's in any of the stories. I was just acting!