Sunday, October 18, 2009
And now, back to our regularly schedule blogging
From Lafayette, LA
Back in the South, baby! There's something about being back down here that wakes up something inside me. Maybe it's all the great writers who came out of the south, or just the particularly haunting history. This deep, in the land of bayous and boudin and crawfish and music and voodoo... well, who wouldn't be inspired? I know it's a thrill for the actors to play down here. They soak up the people and land like sponges and then...squeeze it out on stage.
That's right, squeeze.
Since I've written we've been through Stillwater, OK (our first real southern stop), three cities in Texas and a drive-day over the TX-LA border. It's the people, the drawl, the deep calm and amusement and the communities. Of course they're not all tight-knit, small, sweet southern communities that are stereotypical...but the stereotypes come from somewhere. In Crockett, TX, over eight hundred people traveled in from outside the county to see our play. That's pretty darn cool. The arts are alive and well in the south.
Today's post is a little rambly, I know...think of it as a red dirt road through southern Oklahoma or a little trail through east Texas cypress trees...
Here's the story I wanted to tell, because it summed up my experience so far in the south: We have a lot of challenges in Crockett. It's a tiny space that was converted into a theatre after serving as the tractor-pull arena. We chuckle, we sneer (despite the messages of class-ism in our play), yet they bring us in, they bring in shows and people attend in droves. I went over the preshow speech with the local presenter to make sure he would mention turning off cell phones and our ban on photography.
Later I was walking ahead of him and another lady, and they were discussing 'no flash photography.' I paused and, being in Stage Manager mode, may have looked mildly obsessed and frantic, and said, "I just want to make sure you say no photography - of any kind, please."
He stopped, a solidly built, clean-cut southern gentlemen, looked me calmly in the face for a moment, and in his low drawl murmured, "Jess. It'll be all right. I'll say it, and they'll listen, or they won't."
I have been stressing ately and constantly checking myself against frustration and compulsive, paranoid checking up on other people... I think now whenever I need to pause and center I will think of that Texas man and hear that low calm voice.
It'll be all right.