Marina and Françoisare drinking white wine out of plastic cups. It’s not yet midnight and the two are deeply engaged in conversation. They lean, seated, against the bar in the lobby of REDCAT, CalArts’ theater at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Their eyes are fixed on one another. Periodically they rest their heads in their palms.

The lobby bristles with after-show chatter. The audience has just filed out of Collage Theater’s performance of My Beowulf, but Marina and François are in their own world. The air seems thicker around them.

François is handsome. He wears his thick hair long. Marina is beautiful, slim with short brown hair and brown eyes. Her bare legs are crossed.

They did not see tonight’s performance. Instead, the two attended a nearby panel discussion hosted by the Los Angeles Poverty Department, a radical performance group comprising homeless and formerly homeless people from Skid Row. They walked here for a drink after the show. The night is warm, perfect weather for a stroll.

It’s been one of those long days walking around downtown. Marina, who is a professor of performance studies at Ohio University’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts, is in Los Angeles doing research on downtown culture. She is contributing the L.A. portion of a book on downtown areas around the world. She’s also writing a book on California Plaza’s Grand Performances free arts series.

“She wrote her dissertation on [Grand Performances],” François explains, not taking his eyes off her.

The two met four years ago while she was putting together her dissertation.

What were you talking about just now?

“Postmodern dance — or avant-garde dance,” François says, correcting himself. “I am trying to pick her brain on that ’cause I don’t know anything about it.”

What do you know about?

“Contemporary art, a bit.”

François owns a gallery in Chinatown.

“Oh, and we went to MOCA,” Marina inserts with a smile, adjusting the legs on her stool.

What did you see?

“The Richard Tuttle and the opening, Handmade . . . what was that?”

Excuse me, but are you lovers? Or exes . . . ?

François and Marina both smile and blush.

“We’re friends,” François says, ending the silence.

“She is a great cellist,” he adds.

You play cello?

“Yes,” Marina says, her eyes on François. “We saw a lot of cellists tonight. The cellist on the street! Across from Pershing Square on the north side of Sixth. He was a homeless cellist and he was amazing! Playing really difficult sonatas. He had these pictures of pinups taped to his cello, and was playing Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata . . .”

Wait, I’m sorry . . . François, you’re not in love with her?

“I am. I am,” he says, not missing a beat.

They both laugh. There is another long silence. François’ and Marina’s plastic cups are empty.

LA Weekly