My first SNM was the “opening night” on March 7, 2011. I went because my best friend had two comps from our friend John who was the house manager. All he told me was “we’re going to chase dancers around a warehouse for a couple hours,” which was not immediately compelling to circa-2011 me, like it would be to contemporary me. So I wasn’t actually all that excited to go. Got there, got a 4 card from John, and went in. Manderley wasn’t much back then, they had three pre-mixed drinks and were cash-only.
I remember being let out on what I now know is the third floor, and spending the first hour just slowly picking through the set, not really getting it. I eventually figured out the show was looping, and thought that was pretty cool. I recall having a very hard time identifying characters.
At some point, though, I realized following performers was probably the thing to do, and got on the trail of Macduff. It was Luke Murphy, so I was probably using the immersive theater rule of “follow the one you think is the most attractive” without even realizing it. Chased him down a hall and he went into a dark room. Then the door was shut in my face, and locked. Well, fortunately I knew about the looping by that point so the next hour was spent breathlessly chasing him, keeping as close as possible, desperate to get into that room the next time and see what I then learned was the Interrogation. My heart was racing, it was the most amazing thing I’d experienced. There was secret stuff happening all around me.
On the way out John asked if we’d gotten any 1:1s. “What’s a 1:1?” we both asked, and he started to describe the Porter 1:1. For the next hour we wandered Chelsea trying to make sense of what we’d just experienced. When I got home I immediately booked another ticket since the run was “six weeks only.” I didn’t sleep at all that night. The next day at work I was piecing together the soundtrack. Completely hooked.