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A Place to See

Green light. Birds chirp. Cars hum. People talk. On the corner of the intersection sits an old theater. Rundown and silent, it listens as the crowds pass. People walking, the bubbling of talking never stopping to see its worn down elegance fading into dust. It sits unseen, slouches and sighs. Supports prop it up to prevent it from collapsing. Crippled. Decomposing. It rests.

It’s a dusty, crumbling treasure chest. Blow off the dust and look inside, unscathed, completely clean, completely whole, lies the treasure. A wave of powerful elegance. A surge of forgotten beauty. Details woven into every square inch of majestic Baroque architecture, coated in velvet and gold. Dripping intricate patterns of spirals and swirls, it wakes. At its heart is a single screen and a single curtain and an ocean of empty plush red seats. The Rialto. A place to see and be seen. A theater. Unseen. Caged. 

But nobody goes inside the theater anymore. Nobody wants to. Nobody can. It’s closed. And so it just sits there. It just lies down and sits. A ghost. Invisible. Forgotten. Crumbling. Fading. Doing nothing.

Get rid of it, someone says.

Red light. People stop.

No, they cry, it’s the heart of our town.

Green light. People go. They walk. They carry on. They go forward. They don’t look back.

Essay by South Pasadena student Ben Feldmann © 2011