Journey to Hometown, Part 15
Both Deanna Boostrom (playing my daughter) and I forgot our scripts at home, so we were mining our respective memories trying to make it through last night's run of Hometown...The Musical! without getting lost. It's not our lines that we're worried about at this point, it is the entrances and exits that still need to settle into our bones.
We are two weeks from the preview performance right now. We have made tremendous progress and "exactly where we want to be," according to co-director Claude Giroux. In the next 10 days, all the technical elements, costumes and make-up get layered upon several months of hard work, learning lines, singing, and dancing.
"For me, the stage is a sacred place," said Michael Beamish, talking to the ensemble last night about the world of the play we are creating. "When you step on the stage, you put everything else aside and transcend into a completely different place."
For me, therein lies the beauty of theatre; it is a journey, an escape, into a new world that you get to visit every time you rehearse or run the show. And every single time it is a slightly different experience. New character discoveries are made, different moments stand out, and it feels fresh. Much like the analogy of the duck, on the surface (or to the audience) everything seems the same, but underneath, inside, all the senses are engaged and re-experiencing the arc of the story as if for the very first time.
Unless it's dealing directly with the play, I am very focused off stage. Fellow cast members will probably notice that I don't say much, if anything at all, while I'm waiting for my next scene. I'm either getting into character or watching intently the work that is happening on the deck. It's a great view, usually from stage left for me, and a thrill to watch.
I really enjoyed the bar boys scenes last night with Bear, Billy, Coach and the Poet. They're working hard and coming together as a group, four disparate characters who are making their Keyano Theatre Company debuts with Hometown. I loved the interview Jerry Neville did with Coach (aka Dave Martin), as it serves as an authentic testament to what this production means, to this community and the people in the show. Listen here.
"If the town's ready for this, God bless it," said Coach, about his cameo and the role of the bar boys in telling the story of Wood Buffalo. "Lot of it is about the people that have been here, come here, their attitudes, the way we try and change the attitudes, and what we think how people could live here."
"It's good, it's good," said Coach. "It really is a good play. Now that I've been there at rehearsals, I'm seeing bits that I haven't even read at the time, and killing myself for laughing at some of it, and other bits I think....oh dear, whoa!," he says, grabbing for a Kleenex.
It's heartening to see some wonderful Keyano College people in this show. Sherry Duncan from Childhood Studies and Michelle Ploughman from the Office of the Registrar are two standouts in terms of those trying this experience out for the first time. Apart from doing a delightful job with their characters, they are having a blast, and will likely be back again in the future. That makes many of us very happy.
If you're reading this, I hope you've taken the leap and bought your tickets. This is going to be a deeply personal experience for all of us on stage, a night of authentic, compelling, heartfelt fun for you. I can't think of a better way to spend two hours in the deep dark cold of February. Can you?
My interview as "Grandpa" with Jerry Neville is you want further convincing. Listen here.