A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Who's on My Side?

I had a completely free day today (final exams ended for me yesterday), and my car's running great, so I decided to head over to AIC's Griswald Theater for the premiere of a new play by Keshawn Dodds, Who's on My Side ? Keshawn is a local author and my FB friend; his co-director, Benjamin Smith, lives across the street from me. I wanted to show them both my support.

It seems like just a few weeks ago Keshawn was saying that he was planning to turn his latest book into a play. Then, boom bang, he wrote the script, got a grant and fellowship from the Springfield Cultural Council to fund it, held tryouts, cast the play, rehearsed it, and today it was performed. I am impressed!

I was nosy, too. I wanted to see what the level of professionalism would be for this local production which seemed to have sprung up like a mushroom overnight. The actors were either local residents who had heard about the tryouts, or AIC students. Some had never acted before, and at least one with a major part--Cliff Wright--was a last-minute replacement and had only two weeks to learn his lines (he was terrific).

Sets, costumes, and effects were appealing. Music was catchy and appropriate. Every single actor threw himself into his part. Craig Washington as the abusive dad, for example, was ominous and frightening every time he took the stage.

Best of all, the audience really had a good time. Over a hundred people showed up at the matinee with me, and I'm sure the evening performance was even more crowded. Lots of young people were in the audience. They laughed, held their breath, clapped and cheered throughout. It was evident they were really getting into it. (Plot in a nutshell: Kalen Brown, hero of the play, lives through the summer after his graduation, the bad guys die, he escapes his oppressive situation and gets the girl. The end.)

After the performance came some interaction with the cast and crew. Keshawn was asked how close to his own life this story was. In reply, he called up two of his brothers for an emotional interlude. ( No, it wasn't his "real" life, but yes, it did draw from parts of it.) That's Keshawn in the photo with his hand over his eyes during an emotional moment.

The play was streamed live over the internet, making it available to anyone anywhere. And of course for old fogeys like me, there's always the book.

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