If Ray Charles sang it, well it must be true: “The night time is the right time to be with the one you love.” That said, so often I have found myself navigating Missoula’s nighttime with complete strangers. Those moments are no less memorable or important. It’s conceivable that a person crossing the Northside footbridge at 2 a.m. could happen upon a large, shirtless man and a few of his friends drinking malt liquor, or more specifically, brass monkeys. The large man may request that you too remove your shirt. That you too drink some brass monkey. It’s a frightening proposition: say no and you disrespect the gentleman; say yes and find yourself browned out and sleeping in your front yard shirtless. Choices were made. Shirts were removed. Monkey was drank. No one died. A friendship was kindled. This could not have happened during daylight hours. Someone would’ve called the police. The person walking across the bridge would’ve turned around and taken a different route home.
The world looks and acts different at night. There is freedom in darkness. One can do and say outrageous things, or one can embrace the quietude and linger in the shadows, simply taking it all in. At Artini Redux: Missoula by Night, Greg Johnson, artistic director of the Montana Rep Theatre, hosts an evening of stories about Missoula life after nightfall. The monologues are written by local playwrights and performed by local actors. For those who spend their evenings in bed with the ones they love this is an opportunity to learn what‘s going on in the alley after midnight; for those who spend their nights embracing darkness, maybe someone will tell your story.