Dear Al Pacino,
It’s long past time to reach out about that unfortunate incident during the play in 1981–American Buffalo? At Circle in the Square? Yes, I figured you’d remember. Well, it was me. I’m sorry if I threw you off your game. Actually, I don’t know if I did or not. Between calling emergency services and then the stage manager (SM) making me stand in the lobby so as not to cause any further commotion, I missed the end of the play.
I’m guessing SM glossed over the whole affair. When you came into the lobby after the final scene and asked what happened, SM assured you, “Nothing, nothing, don’t worry about it.” It was actually a pretty classic New York City story. Maybe you’ll laugh; maybe you won’t, but here’s what happened when you weren’t looking.
Let me start by admitting to a huge crush back then. It’s not that I don’t admire you still, it’s just I’m old and having a crush feels a little desperate. But at the time, I was 23 and you were the one.
That’s why I was so excited to find you were in an off-Broadway play and I was in New York City at the same time. I was over the moon to get a front row seat. Now, if I’m being honest, I have to tell you I didn’t love the play. Or maybe I did, but I missed large swaths because I was stunned to be in the same room with Al Pacino, and then there was the unfortunate incident, so I think I lost the plot.
But here’s the important bit. It was during the last 15 minutes or so when I noticed an older woman slump in her seat. She appeared to be having a medical emergency, but everyone around her was oblivious. Finally, it felt too weird, so I hunched down and made my way to her seat. I don’t remember if she responded positively when I asked if she needed help, or it was her lack of response that prompted me to act. I pardoned my way past everyone else in the row and headed to the lobby.
SM asked what was going on. I told him and I hoped for some help or at least some guidance, but he pretty much blew me off. I mean, I’m guessing they had a phone in the theatre besides the one in the ladies’ room, but that’s where he sent me. Now here’s the thing. The ladies’ room was super echo-y, and I have a voice that “carries.” I might have had a successful career in the theatre, I can definitely project. So SM pokes his head in and asks me to pipe down. Pipe down? I think there’s a woman having a heart attack in your theatre!
I finally coordinated with emergency services and was headed back to my seat when SM tells me to wait in the back. I’d caused enough disruption for one performance. I had completely lost track of the play at that point, but let’s face it, I wasn’t there for the show anyway. Then, bonus! Al Pacino in the lobby! The Man Himself practically in front of me! That’s when you asked what had happened and SM said, “Nothing,” and he shooed you back to the stage for a curtain call or two.
SM finally allowed me back into the theatre. At that point, as I recall, someone was attending to the woman at last. Whether she needed the ambulance that appeared as I was leaving, and/or how sick she really was, I can’t say. I had done what I could. SM might say I had done too much already.
I don’t know why this whole thing came back to me recently, but since it did, and I had never reached out before, I figured I owed you this apology. I certainly didn’t mean to visit your house and cause a ruckus.
At the same time–and I don’t mean to sound harsh here–you New Yorkers really do take “the show must go on” to the next level. Luckily, based on a recent incident or two, times might have changed.
So there you go, that’s the story in case it has kept you up nights.
Best of luck with a continued brilliant career, and I wish you blissfully unremarkable audience experiences in the future.