Sunday, December 19, 2010

Oh! The Opera House!

We've been in rehearsal for Steel Magnolias for a few weeks now and it just gets more and more fun. Before this afternoon, we've had to rehearse in a Methodist Church Youth Group meeting room which was fine and served its purpose but tonight we were back at the Opera House and oh, it was amazing.
There's just something about that old stage. It was built in 1890 and has been in use, off and on, for that long. Some people say that Mr. Perkins, the man who built it, haunts it but I have never seen or heard his ghost. Despite that, it is impossible to stand in that place and not be filled with a sense of the history of it.
Hell, I've got a bit of history there myself by now. In the last four years or so I've been in several plays and radio shows and each corner of the stage and backstage holds a memory. And then I think of all the shows, the actors, the musicians, the performers who have walked onto that stage and and put on their make-up in the dressing rooms and the audiences who have trudged up those stairs to see them and it's just a little bit magic, you know?

We've been concentrating on the first scene in Steel Magnolias because it's the bulk of the play and we are almost off-book on that which is wonderful because that's when we can start to really PLAY with our parts and figure out the tiny things that will make it real, make it come alive.
On Tuesday we're going to block the second scene and I need to start learning those lines. I am finding it easier to memorize lines in this play than any other I have been associated with because they make so much sense and they are so well-written.
Which is not to say I don't have my glitches. I do.
Hopefully though, they will smooth out.
I always wish for a perfect performance- every line delivered properly, every move made gracefully- but of course that never happens.
I sure would like to get close. Once, at least.
It deserves that, this play does. Knowing that the author, Robert Harling, wrote it about his sister and the women of the little town he grew up in gives me sense of obligation. I am obligated to do the best job I can do.
We are keeping his sister alive, somehow, and I hope to do that with as much honor and humor as I can.

Well, that's enough of that.

It was just so good to be back on that old stage, to be with these people I have come to care for so much, people I am learning to care for. It's wonderful to be in a play with all women. We get to touch and do each others hair and just be...southern women.
It's comforting. It's soothing. It's just a whole lot of damn fun. I started laughing tonight for real during the scene and could hardly stop. I don't even remember what set me off but it was a good moment.

I think we're going to have a lot of those.

Oh! And Jan and Jack have gotten a few leads on old beauty shop equipment but if you live around the North Florida area and know of any not being used, let me know. I'd sure appreciate it and you'd get your name in the program.

It's been a good Sunday, despite all the poop and I am simmering greens from the garden (they weren't really dead, they just looked that way and will be sweeter for the frost) and Mr. Moon is smoking some venison that marinated all night long. There will be sweet potatoes.
I wish I'd grown 'em but I didn't.

As Ouiser says in the play, "I am an old Southern woman. We're supposed to put on funny looking hats and ugly old dresses and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don't ask me why. I don't make the rules."

And that is me although I usually wear ugly old overalls rather than dresses but I have my share of funny looking hats and I do grow vegetables in the dirt. I am not sure that there is a rule about this; I think it may be a gene.
Whatever. I think I am feeling mighty lucky to be in this production with these people in the old Opera House.

And to live in the south, even though we have our problems. Everyone has problems, everywhere. That's just the way of it. We find the beauty of the place we feel at home.

And I have and I do and those greens are going to taste very fine.


  1. That place is gorgeous. I love the last photo.

  2. It's my mum's favourite film, Steel magnolias. I should hunt it down, watch it again. i had three months back home this summer with her but for small kids and husbands we didnt get to watch it together like i know she wanted...

    what was Mr Perkins' story? did he come to a tragic end? or is he a happy ghost?

  3. Very beautiful place. I too love the South.

  4. Oh, how I wish that I could be there to see you in your play. And eat your greens and sit on your porch and enjoy the South, with you.

  5. Rebecca- It's a jewel. For sure.

    Screamish- Yes. Watch it. It's a good one. And no, Mr. Perkins is a happy ghost. I hear that sometimes he plays the piano.

    Syd- I know you do. We certainly have that in common.

    Elizabeth- Me, too, baby. Me too.

  6. You make me miss the theatre, and I thought I was done with those feelings all together.


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