Farnsworth Chronicles, 21


And then there was one.

We sit on the precipice, about to jump into other projects, summer jobs, and moves to other cities.  Later this evening, the cast and crew of The Farnsworth Invention will go through a long and complicated series of preparatory steps, lines, movements, light and sound cues, and myriad other details to close out the run of this incredible production.

I used the word "incredible", not as a qualifier for what the audience experienced when seeing it - because that is not for me to judge - but what we experienced while putting it on.  The Farnsworth Invention is a play and a production that descended from my head to my heart.

"The hand I hold, is the hand I trust," we shouted together, in a pre-show ritual - hands and hearts together - led by stage veteran Michael Beamish.  Last night, the feeling of togetherness, mutual respect and love, was particularly pronounced.

Going from the moment just before the "shut your cell phones" speech is played, right through to the walk off the stage between the scrim and the proscenium after the curtain call, the punctuation marks of the journey are clear, crystal bright in my mind.  But like everything in life, the crispness of the memories will begin to fade over time, quickly becoming mushy and eventually getting washed away like the dust after a soft summer rain.

For now, I remember....

Crossing downstage at the top of the show, my head just clearing the ascending scrim as I find my mark on downstage left and wax eloquent on the number 17.

The ding of the bell as the school kids come streaming into the classroom with Spencer carrying his "one page assignment from the front of the textbook."

Feeling the thunderous sound to kick off the "getting kicked out of our house by Cossacks" scene - a black, ominous memory from the distant past.

Waiting in the dark on the upstage centre platform for my wife, "the beautiful Lizette Hermant," as Brodie introduces "the Radio Corporation of America."

"He was out of high school, out of the navy, and after a year at Brigham Young...." - one of my favourite speeches in the play.

Watching the incredible character contortions of George Everson masterfully done by Frances Mennigke, juxtaposed against his rotund partner Leslie Gorrell expertly played by Nick Heffelfinger, complete with his fake tummy and bowler hat.

"And he did," my character says, as the chandler roadster roars to life thanks to the expert hand of Mr. Farnsworth, as he invades my pool of light for the first time, towering way above me.

Finding the comedy in some of the narrative lines.  "Yah, turns out Astroboy was also a concert level violinist."

Loving the music that sweeps me into the speech that begins with "He tried liquor for the first time when he was in the navy...

Descending the giant staircase on centre stage as Betty Jordan, played by the incredible Amanda Campbell, follows me down to learn a thing or two about prize fighting.

Enjoying the jib and jab with Jim Habbord, played by Brodie Dranscutavicius (for the record - because it deserves to be said - I spelled that incredible last name by memory, and only missed one letter!), reflecting on how "Walter Gifford runs his radio station like a whorehouse."

Proudly announcing to Mrs. Sarnoff, beautifully played by Humberley Gonzalez, that if television gets invented, "it's going to get invented by RCA," then stumbling in the dark to find the escape stairs.

"So now he's got his team," I begin, pointing out his "brother in law, a 19 year old kid and a refrigerator repairman."

Watching with anticipation as Dustin Young starts up the generator, hoping for that perfectly timed piece of pyro.

"I'm not going to make love to you till you do (get a picture)," says Elaine Bevans on the upper platform as Farnsworth declares that "he's screwed!"  "Not till you get a picture you're not," retorts Pem.

"Nothing but electronic fog and a cloudy, wavy, line running up the middle."

Delighting in the characterization by Geoff Jones as the reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Listening to the drone of perfection by Anthony Wall as the radio announcer giving us "ten minutes of information about a hardware store on WEAF."

Watching the elegant eyelashes of Misty Oakes as Simms, delivering her lines on mark with stunning precision.

"He got a picture!" screams David Oulton holding the week old edition of the San Francisco Chronicle as I dash back into the scene in shock.

"You're worrying about nothing David," says one of the RCA staff as they poo-poo the story of Philo getting that first picture as I pace frenetically, trying to wrap my brain around how we missed the boat on television.

"When it rains it pours Betty." Does it ever.

More memories to come from act two tomorrow, as the Farnsworth Chronicles likely will come to an end.

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