Plays were definitely more unpopular than movies . Movies you could watch anywhere . They were cheaper . Sometimes they were easier to understand as well . Because of this, plays became a pastime that no one particularly cared about .
Some people never even watched a play in their entire lives . There were just too many other things to see, namely movies . But Miso was sure that a single play would be all it takes to make a person enthralled with plays .
‘Plays have their own charm . It’s fun . You can’t deny that . ’
Miso glanced at Maru a bit . The boy was thoughtful . Brave . Hard to handle . But also confused . At least, to Miso, he was . She didn’t know what the boy was conflicted about . The boy was pretty studious, as far as she could see . He would finish every task Miso would give him, and he was never late to club meetings . He was fast and efficient, like many adults she’s worked with, in the past .
Righ . An adult . Maru was acting like an adult . Almost like he was one his entire life . He interferes with other people’s lives plenty of times, but never crosses a certain line . He never gets mad, and takes care of problems calmly . He has backup plans as well . Just like when he stepped forward to get hit by that student earlier .
Maru… didn’t have any drive . He was at an age where he really didn’t have anything to lose at all . The age where he could do anything he wanted without any big consequences .
That was what made a person’s teenage years so bright . Because they could do as they pleased with little to no consequence . But Miso wasn’t able to see this light from Maru . This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing . People all have their own ways of living their lives, and Maru had clearly found his own . The first thing Miso felt when looking at Maru was ‘balance’ . The boy was relaxed enough about life to be able to handle just about anything . Like a boulder that could withstand the strongest of storms .
Of course, she might just have been imagining things . While she thought she was pretty good at judging people, this didn’t mean she trusted herself completely . There was a need to watch the boy further .
Well, at least she knew Maru was a good kid at this point . And that he was quite a character . The only worrying part of it was…
‘His balance . ’
Miso couldn’t help but think that this balance of Maru’s would only help him in the long run . Plays required actors to keep changing themselves . To keep adapting to their new characters and plays . It was a challenge . Acting is an art of challenging oneself . The polar opposite of who Maru was . Would the boy have the courage to keep on facing new challenges?
‘I’m overthinking things again . ’
Miso shook her head . She was thinking too much, especially when the boy wasn’t even willing to act yet . Right now, all she wanted to do was to make the boy passionate about plays .
‘I know for sure that you like plays . ’
“Pft . ”
Miso raised her head after hearing the laughter . The actors were putting on a comedic show on the stage with a lottery ticket . Maru was laughing when the play intended for him to laugh .
‘He’s definitely used to watching plays . ’
Miso looked down at the sitting audience . The people were trying their best to hide their laughter, worrying that they might disturb the actors if they got too loud . It was inevitable . Miso acted the same way when she watched her first play . She was at the front rows at the time, a place where she could see and hear everything from the actors . Everything from the beads of sweat perspiring from their heads to their exhausted huffs . She was so sure at the time that the actors could hear her if she talked . That’s why she tried her best to stay quiet in her seat . She grit her teeth to stop herself from laughing, and pinched her thighs when she wanted to cry .
Her friends were the same . They tried their best to stay quiet in their seats as well, trying not to appear rude to the actors .
‘Come to think of it, that crazy bastard was different . ’
She thought of a particular person in her head . The boy who burst out laughing at comic scenes, and cried his eyes out at sad ones . Watching him at the time made Miso feel very ashamed . She knew better now though . That the boy made a better audience than anyone else in the theater .
Maru started laughing a little bit more loudly, watching a particular actor on the stage . Miso could tell that the actor was getting visibly more excited by the boy’s laughter . Reactions from the audience were like fuel for the actor . And when the audience reacted strongly…
“Now! Let’s decide who’ll take the money for this ticket!”
The actor would act more with more passion . Miso put aside her thoughts for a second . She didn’t want them getting in her way of the play .
The actors finished their curtain call after their play and were greeted with a round of applause from the audience .
“You may start taking pictures now! Please take many of them and promote us if you could!”
A photo session finally came around after the lights turned on . Some people were taking pictures enthusiastically, while others just left . The girl who had been handling ticketing, in the beginning, was handing out surveys at the exit .
“If you bring this to us after filling this out, we’ll give you a discount . You can also fill the survey out online . Everyone counts, so please fill it out!”
Only about half of the audience took the survey sheet . Half of those threw away the survey sheet straight into the trash can . The girl took back the uncrumpled survey sheets with a smile .
“Ten people took it this time . It’s a new record!”
Ten out of seventy . It wasn’t that many at all, but it was clearly enough to make the girl excited .
“How was it?” Miso asked .
“It was fun . It’s been a while since I last saw one . ”
“Yes . About twenty…”
Maru coughed after realizing his mistake .
“Two years . I haven’t seen one in over two years . ”
“Didn’t you say twenty?”
“No way, you must’ve misheard me . ”
“Alright, fine . ”
The theater was completely empty by then . Miso walked up to the front of the theater to one of the seats . Maru sat down with her . After a moment of waiting, the actors approached them .
“Senior, you’re here? Especially now?”
It was the actor who played the father role . The other actors seemed equally excited to see her . Well, all but one, actually .
One of the male actors was clearly very nervous . Miso smiled at him, saying ‘it’s about time we got a little closer, isn’t it?’
“You guys all seem to be doing well . It was fun . ”
“Well, you taught us, after all . But really, why are you here? Did you come to buy us food?”
“I’d have come later if it was for food . It’s actually…”
Miso stopped talking to stare at Maru .
“What is it?”
“Do you want to try going up?”
“The stage, obviously . ”
Miso pointed at the stage that the actors were on just a moment ago . The actors nodded collectively before stepping aside for Maru .
“She has her eyes on you, huh?”
“Poor kid . ”
“Good luck . ”
This must’ve happened a few times in the past . Maru turned to look at the actors . They were taking their seats in the audience . Then… The actor was?
“Go up . ”
Miso kept motioning for him to go up . How unlucky . Maru hesitated for a second, but climbed on stage anyway . There was no real reason for him to refuse her .
The stage looked a lot larger once he was on it . The audience seats looked a lot larger as well .
“How is it?” Miso asked .
“It’s bigger than I thought . ”
“Right? It looked a lot smaller down there, right?”
“Yes . ”
Miso nodded proudly .
“Keeping the stage occupied is our job . If that stage looks empty to the audience, it means that the actors aren’t doing a good job . ”
“I see . ”
Maru could see it . He’s never gotten the sense that the stage was empty during the play . In a way, Miso was praising her juniors for their skill .
“Well then,” she started .
Miso threw Maru a script, which he received with both hands .
“Lights, please . ”
One of the actors stepped into the lighting room . The theater started turning dark, and a spotlight turned on where he was standing .
“Want to try reading?” Miso asked .
“Yup . ”
Maru stared at the lines for a second before asking a question .
“…Can’t you just do the thing?”
“I need a reason to do it . ”
“But you always did it back at school . ”
“That’s because it helps with practice for the other students . ”
He was thankful that she took him out to watch a play . He hadn’t laughed like that in a while . But he didn’t see why he had to read for her on the stage though . His only observation was Miso’s strange insistence for this .
“You really don’t like to lose, do you? Damn high schoolers . ”
Miso turned to her juniors with agitation . But…
“Yeah, show her!”
They must’ve suffered quite a lot from Miso . They only shut their mouths when Miso cursed ‘you god damn idiots’ under her breath .
“This is an extension of club activities as well . ”
“I’m a stage manager . ”
“Your job is to convey your emotions about this to your other members . Is that enough?”
No, it really isn’t enough . Maru just opened the script regardless, unwilling to extend the argument any further . He’d rather go back to school, so he took a deep breath before reading the first line .
“It was his fault . ”
The reading began .