If you walked into Cutler Majestic Theatre on Monday afternoon or evening, you would have found a stage with 11 empty chairs illuminated by a single light. It was intended as a “place of reflection” after 11 people were murdered in a shooting massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday.
The marquees on Emerson College’s Paramount and the Cutler theaters in downtown Boston bore a quote from the Talmud: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you to abandon it.” (The stage has been changed in preparation for a show, but the marquee signs remain.)
“This is something we do all too regularly,” ArtsEmerson Artistic Director David Dower writes me. “It started the morning after the Charleston shooting” in which eight people were murdered in a South Carolina church in 2015. “We opened the theater for silent reflection. People were sitting facing an empty stage so I just put up nine folding chairs in a line to support the reflection.”
— David Dower (@ddower) October 29, 2018
“We did it again after Pulse” nightclub shooting in which 49 people were shot dead in Orlando in 2016. Dower writes, “Forty-nine chairs was overwhelming. We didn’t have an empty stage after Vegas, but we have done most of the others. And we opened a theater the day after Kavanaugh’s testimony. No chairs.”
Emerson College President Lee Pelton emailed students earlier in the day of Oct. 29 to let them know about the theater vigil. “This is principally for the campus but open to the public if people find it,” Dower writes me. “We use the marquees to tell people, and sometimes light social media, but mainly we put our word through campus outlets.”
Federal prosecutors have charged Robert Bowers, 46, with walking into Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday morning, yelling, “All Jews must die,” and shooting people in what is said to be the deadliest attack against the American Jewish community in U.S. history.
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