I get it about sneaking in for free, but why spend the night? What is it about a dome? About bare stage boards and statues in darkened grottoes? There was a case-hardened steel padlock on the concession supply closet, and the cash boxes were behind double lock and key, which anyone clever enough to stow away would be likely to assume. What else then to do after hours but wander like a ghost beneath darkened chandeliers?
I spent only one complete night in the theater, the night the father-and-son team who comprised our cleaning service, quit. Three of us, a broom and an Electrolux canister vacuum succeeded in cleaning every carpeted and marble inch of the place. We’d booked the theater for an event the following morning, so I had very little time to soak in the solitude, but I was aware of it. Ever steal into a cathedral on a weekday? Or walk alone in a Sequoia forest? A friend who worked on the staff of an arboretum once told me that, at closing time, people who don’t want to leave the park hide in the tallest trees and have to be shaken out of them, literally. Do these compulsions spring from ancestral memory? The safety of trees, the comfort of a deep cave? I understand why ancient peoples left their handprints on the walls of Lascaux and Altamira. I wish I had left just one set of my own somewhere in the St. George, perhaps on the back wall, next to the door to the projection booth.