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Pax Day One- Part Two

For me this story doesn't begin with the start of the play, it doesn't begin when I arrived an hour and half early to find that the Enforcers were already considering cutting the line off.  It doesn't begin with the director putting on a show with less than a week of rehearsals.  It begins 6 moths ago, at PAX East in Boston, where Cameron McNary did a read through of "Of Dice and Men" with actors he barely knew just so he could have something to bring to PAX.  I kept reading the reviews that came out of that read through, wondering if this showing at PAX Prime was just going to be a bunch of guys reading from a script or if it would be closer to the real deal.  A play PAX, can you imagine?

But as the night wore on and more and more people were turned away I got a little bit more confident about my decision.  The seating in one of these rooms is abysmal for a play, and I was quickly reminded why elevated seats are so important.  We were sitting near the back and we had to do a lot of neck stretching to be able to see the actors, but in the end that didn't really matter.  We only a get a few moments into the play before we come to the first joke about D&D.  One of the characters picks up an old book, the Tomb of Horrors module for D&D, and before he can even get to the joke about how many times his character died going through that legendarily sadistic adventure, the audience is laughing. 

I don't play a lot of D&D, and neither did my friends who were with me, but that didn't matter.  We were in an audience full of players, full of people who had been at this since the first red and blue boxes, full of DMs who have been at this long enough to hate the fourth edition and to miss Gary Gygax when he died in 2008.  It was a play about D&D playing to an audience who, if they didn't spend years playing the damn thing, know enough about the genre to get the jokes.

Can you imagine? 

Maybe it was just a perfect storm- a whole audience guaranteed to give a good review to a play that depicts RPers in a positive and compassionate light, that explains the game and why people were drawn to it.  But that's the thing- it wasn't that the play did this because the audience would have forgiven any sin, that we didn't notice that it had sweeping generalities- it performed because it was a genuine and smart story about people who play D&D, a faultless plot with a climax that almost got it's own standing ovation. 

Yeah, they were preaching to the choir, but you know what?  That's how you make them sing, and by the end of the play they were singing all the way from the bottoms of their socks. 

At the end of it, once we finally got quiet, Cameron McNary stood up in front of us and said, very plainly, that he wanted to be able to tour the play, to bring it to people who don't play D&D, to expose everyone else to what we were lucky to witness.  But to do that requires money and they, very simply, didn't have enough to make that happen.  So they flashed some websites, answered some questions and... that was it.  That was the end of my first night at PAX, and one of the best plays I had ever seen.

I honestly can't get excited about a lot of nonprofit groups- I gave money to Greenpeace for a while, and then to Amnesty International but that was it.  I am genuinely upset by the fact that I can't afford to give money to these guys, but maybe you can.

Critical Threat Theatre- The theatre company behind the play. 
Of Dice and Men at Indiegogo- give money and get cool stuff too!

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