Staunton VA - The ASC mandala has circled around, and we are all coming back to where we began. Tomorrow we begin the last five days of performances, and then we scatter, like leaves before an autumn wind, to places familiar and strange. The ending has truly begun.
The past week of shows were all just fine. The houses have been good, and all the performances remain fairly solid. Richard III had two completely different audiences this past week; one which was studiously serious, and another which really got into the humor of Andrew's interpretation. Planet still has them going crazy, and Much Ado ramped it up a notch on Sunday, I think, when director Jaq Bessell came to see the show, sitting right in the front row. I actually didn't recognize her at first, because I'm not used to seeing her dressed up. We had all gone over to Luigi's bar/pizza joint to hear her and her husband Jan's band Sub Rosa (formerly known as Wreck of the Portland) play their punkrock tunes, as well as an acoustic set. They're really pretty good, but they only have about 6 songs, so they did them all twice. Most of the company, rez and touring, were in attendance.
My historian tasks are almost complete. I've got my blog all set up as a Word document, so when I get the last two entries in, it will be complete. Then I will turn it into a PDF document and have it available for distribution, sending in one copy to the ASC as an "official" record of the tour. The DVD I had made of the tour also came in. The music is too cheezy for words, but if you mute the DVD player's music and play your own choice of tunes, then it works OK as a slide show.
The "weekend" was full of events which signaled endings and beginnings. Andrew and Jamie left for Philly, and Andrew had packed a few boxes as was already moving them up. Jessica left for NYC and some auditions. Greg was planning to do to DC. Sunday evening Daniel, Sarah, Olivia and I went to the Staunton Braves game to sing the National Anthem at the start of the game. Sarah and Daniel had done this before last June when we first arrived in town, and I think Olivia also, so I was the newbie in the group. It was American Shakespeare Center night at the ballpark. Sarah and Daniel helped me learn a bass line for the song so we did it in three-part harmony. Then I GOT TO THROW OUT THE FIRST PITCH!!! Wow! It was fun. My throw was just a bit outside (as Bob Uecker would say), but I didn't bounce it and had some speed on it. I got to keep the ball and will get it autographed by the Atomic Fission troupe during this upcoming week. When I got back to the Bev house, I had a nice chat with Tracy Hostmeyer, who was in the last rez troupe and visiting for the weekend, Sarah Fallon and Matt Sincell. Sarah broke out some delicious salsa - so good you can never go back to store-bought salsa - and then a bit of sleep.
Monday I had thought about going to Washington DC with Sarah, Daniel and Olivia. They were going to sign up for League auditions, and Olivia had an audition for The Tempest at the Folger Library Theatre. She got a callback for Ariel! But I decided against going when I realized at 6:30 AM that they were already gone. So I spent the day taking a road trip to Appomattox Court House, the site of Lee's surrender to Grant, marking the end of the Civil War. I found strangely interesting that I had chosen to make a trip to the site where the Civil War ended on the last weekend of my stay here in Staunton, with the end of my contract in sight. The site is pretty much a reconstruction of the original town of Appomattox Court House, and it contains a reconstruction of the court house and the McLean House, the actual building where Lee and Grant met to discuss surrender terms. There are still a few original buildings on the National Historic Park site, one being a mercantile store, and a few law offices. My one-person character J. Herbert George, who was at Cedar Creek, was also at Appomattox with the Sixth Corp of the Army of the Potomac. He records the surrender in his letters. In walking the grounds it was very easy to sense the combination of elation and sorrow that must have been felt on all sides. All the historical writings seem to record the event as a scene of great honor, as the Confederate troops - hungry, weary and defeated - were saluted with honor by all the Union troops during the stacking of arms ceremony, and were given food, clothing and parole passes allowing them free passage home. Humility in victory; honor in defeat. Often when I visit these Civil War sites I am struck by the degree of honor which accompanied the fighting on both sides. So very little of that sense of honor and duty is left with us today, only 141 years removed from those times.
This Monday ended with the "Midsummer Night's Picnic," the annual gathering of volunteers, actors and ASC staff at Gypsy Hill Park for burgers, hotdogs and assorted other goodies. After that was the final night of dollar bowling at Staunton Lanes. My very first Monday night in town last year I went bowling, where I met some members of the touring troupe (Chris, Greg, Alyssa for sure) and the resident troupe at that time (Matt, Rene, and Sarah, who that night gave me my bowling name of Tommy2Ballz). I went out with a bang, breaking 100 all three games, with a high score of 140 for my final game, easily my best game of bowling while here.
And so things begin their end at the same place where they began the beginnings: bowling, picnics, Staunton Braves games. There is goodbye party for us Friday night, maybe a little celebration after final strike on Sunday. I have packing to do, laundry to do, and cleaning to do beforehand. I still have some stuff I want to cram in: one more hike in Shenandoah, pictures to take around town, a few more cups of Coffee on the Corner. One or two more entries on this blog, and that's it! Waiting for the final curtain.... -TWL