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Rent: Not just an event cover

In IDS on October 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

CAITLIN JOHNSTON (IDS)

Terry LaBolt stood in a rehearsal room surrounded by the cast and crew of “Rent,” struggling to find the right words.

The musical director for IU’s Department of Theatre and Drama had known this moment was coming for a few months now, ever since the department chose the show as the season opener, but that didn’t make it easy.

No matter how many times he did this, it was never easy.

As LaBolt searched for a way to begin, his eye caught a model version of the set. It was simple: a brick wall, the façade of an apartment building in 1980s Alphabet City, N.Y., now known as the Lower East Side. Parts of the wall had fallen away, decayed and worn.

As he took in the set, the memories flooded in with unexpected force.

He had lived in Alphabet City in the 1980s. He walked the streets of the theater district lined with people asking for $2 — the price of one crack hit. He watched his friends physically change before his eyes — growing thinner, paler, weaker — as they fought the battles for their lives.

He watched his friends physically change before his eyes — growing thinner, paler, weaker — as they fought the battles for their lives. Battles they would eventually lose, overcome by blindness, pneumonia or cancer.

He was prepared to tell his story, but not for the wave of emotion that hit him so suddenly. He looked down at the set model, a recreation of a place and time that defined his life. As he wrestled with the memories that were still fresh after 25 years, his eyes staring at the model, he started the only way he could.

“I was there.”

What do you think? Did this story work for you?

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