POST: 'Hot L Baltimore' - to cope together, as a family

What's it about?

Hot L Baltimore captures the life stories and the personalities of one special place. 

What'd I experience?

T. Schreiber Studio… sounded very intriguing and even more so for what I had come to find out about the play. I reached the seventh floor and, as I entered, it was already full of people sitting on benches to the left side of a neat-looking hallway. It held the names and pictures of, who I would guess were, collaborators of this studio. While staring at these frames, I suddenly felt a special vibe about this place. In fact, I thought: this is somewhere things could be achieved, somewhere people took something valuable from.

As I waited along with the rest of the audience members outside, I read through the play’s description and who the characters were going to be; it definitely held a lot of names. At the same time, I heard others conversing about how this play had also been a TV series back in the day, which made me really intrigued. Right away, I got out my phone to search about it, but soon enough realized there was no signal in this place, so there went my time of discovery.

Just as soon as they called everyone in to start taking our seats, I ran across a small table that included a sign-up sheet (where one could put their email) as well as several cards that displayed the current show and others that read “Learn With Us.” This was that something valuable. Inside it gave a list of the different workshops and on-going classes that this studio offered. I was captivated by their program - it offered a wide range of things that interested me, like voice-over and commercial acting, as well as classes for beginning actors. I really thought this was something that I could get involved with. I couldn’t help feeling so happy at that instant.

With that same smile on my face, I finally went through the double doors into where I was awed by the way the stage was setup. A hotel’s once-luxurious vibe, vintage looking with bright chairs, faded lamps and wooden accent tables - it definitely helped me get into the mood for the time period that the play was set. On the other hand, as soon as looked to my left I was stunned. My face turned to confusion - the seating area was so small! The seats themselves were extremely close, hardly leaving space to walk between. Plus, the majority of them were already taken! I got off the line and ran across to the far right where a single seat was left. I felt bad that on top of this tight situation, it looked pretty uncomfortable for some of the audience to get to the back seats, because they were way past the age of fifty.

The show started soon. The first two onstage were the concierge, Bill, and a girl. Someone who couldn’t get her name straight. She was supposed to be Mary, but she didn’t like it and apparently was changing it; so therefore just a girl-with-no-name. She seemed very enthusiastic and excited about life. She reminded me of those girls with wild and young spirits, always in a good mood and eager to learn and explore. She talked about all the things she liked, like her fascination for trains. In them, she had traveled all over the states and couldn’t think of any of the places she hadn't been. But for now she had settled at the hotel and every day she payed close attention to the passing of the trains at the station nearby: the time they arrived and how late the train was… it seemed she was a very analytical person. 

Soon enough, little by little, characters appeared. Like Millie, who was a tenant of the hotel and had been for quite some years. She was a type of foreseer, not exactly a psychic, but someone who could sense stuff.  She was wise and the type of lovable person who was always there to help. Mr. Morse, who also had been in the hotel for some time, could be compared to that grandpa who can hardly hear anymore. He says the things he pleases and does as he desires, and no one can contradict him. But he's always got a funny attitude. He reminded me of my grandfather because whatever he said no one could say otherwise. Except, he was a little grumpier than Mr. Morse.

And there’s April, secure of who she is and what she wants, living the life. As well as Suzy, just a little more uncontrollable with a few more drinks in her and some exotic looking clothes to scream for attention. There’s Jackie and Jamie, the big sister caring for her younger brother and trying to keep him away from smoking. The type of sister who has self-direction and does what she needs to do in order to survive. The only thing is that she is willing to do anything to keep herself safe. And to top it off there is Mr. Katz, the owner of the hotel. He wants structure among the tenants and tries as much as he can to keep the order.

Despite the tenants’ different personalities, they had learned to cope together, as a family. I connected them to my family, when in an episode of our lives there were twelve people living in one apartment: the kids, the grandparents, the adults, the teens and preteens, all in one place. There was happiness and madness, screams and cries, but much bonding… totally crazy, but I was glad that we were together. The tenants of Hotel Baltimore were the mere reflection of that and I enjoyed watching them.

There was conflict among them because the hotel was scheduled for demolition so it was being evacuated. For the girl (without a name) it turned into a big deal: she kept trying to find a solution in order to stop it from being destroyed, as if she could really turn things over. In fact, she started to bother me a little. She talked so much and meddled in the rest of the tenants' issues, as if she wanted to be their hero. I really wanted her to stop talking. Even when not asked anything she would open her mouth.  One of those cases was when someone arrived asking for help finding information about his grandfather who had been a guest at the hotel about a year and a half ago. This situation really irritated me, because instantly she started questioning the guy…who was this person? What was his name? Did you ever get to meet him? At last, she offered herself to help the guy out in finding his grandfather but was all up in his face. I was like… urghh... Dude he didn’t even ask for YOUR help.

Apart from demolition, another problem occurred. Jackie took advantage of a situation. After she allegedly helped Mr. Morse with his window in his room, she robbed him of his valuables. I didn’t believe she was capable of doing that. The whole time watching I thought - this is someone who wasn’t scared of life. Even though she is on her own with her brother, she is doing everything she can. Only to turn out to be one who can take advantage of a weaker person. I shook my head in shame for her, thinking …wow… I felt like I would’ve been able to trust her but then she destroyed it all.

All in all, the majority of the tenants’ issues start to become more frequent and sync up. One’s view of life differs from the other. Another is criticized for her way of life and her looks. A game of checkers turns into a fight… it was like seeing kids in a classroom. But these were grownups attacking one another with harsh words, letting out their frustrations all at once. Until, right before lights dimmed, Suzy, wrapped in a towel opens up, screaming her frustration out.

Undeniably funny, but very intense. Going from being fascinated by the venue to being totally intrigued by the play, to provoking great emotions in me. I took with me that life has always had ups and downs, people who create frustrating situations, and some who make it convenient for themselves. Truth is, I got to experience moments of life that don’t happen often around me and some that I was not aware of. It was a wheel of emotions provoked by the portrayal of reality.


Want to see it?

$20 Tickets

Hot L Baltimore
T. Schreiber Studio
thru Dec. 5