This blog post is about a week and a half tardy. Where we last left off, we had just held the first rehearsal for the process of this devised piece. It’s not an exaggeration to say that, after that first rehearsal on Wednesday, July 25, 2012, I am a changed writer.
That evening, I met a dedicated group of actors/teachers who would submit to soul-baring exercises over the next three evenings, the results of which would become integral parts of the resulting piece. Director Mollie Mook-Fiddler designed improvisational exercises that would speak to the theme of the piece, guiding the actors in using their own experiences and emotions to help build the play.
In fact, all I brought with me to Silverton, CO, was an idea I wanted to explore, the loosest of outlines, and the title: Wishbone. The title was based on a wishbone I’ve kept with me since I won it in my family’s yearly Thanksgiving contest for the first time when I was around 11-years-old. I panicked when I realized I’d left the thing on my desk at home in Tacoma–I’d meant to bring it along with me for inspiration. No matter, Mollie had the actors think back to artifacts from their own childhoods, asked them to write a brief story about each artifact and what it meant to them, then hand the story to another actor to read aloud, so that it became a universal story, as opposed to their own story. That was inspiration enough. All of the stories laid the foundation for the play. One of these stories became a major factor of the piece, revisited throughout each movement. The piece was finished at 2pm on Saturday, July 28th, and the performance took place that night at 7pm. The dedication of everyone involved was humbling.
Admittedly, this is the briefest of updates as I’m still processing what took place and how it felt to write non-stop for four days. To put it in the simplest of terms, it was a writer’s fantasy camp. I had my own (self-designated) special booth at the Teller House Restaurant (I still miss their Huevos Rancheros) where I wrote 80% of the piece. The other 20% was written in bed in my 110-year-old hotel room complete with breath-taking mountain views. The town itself was magical, the people were welcoming to the point where they seemed familiar in a Deja Vu sort of way, and the air was clean and fragrant and full of energy.
I used the song “Lazy River,” a song Chad often sings to Ellis, throughout the play to symbolize the way “life should be” – and I revisited it several times as I wrote the play to keep myself in that mind-set, to not get down-trodden in the actual emotional weight of the subject matter to the point where I might forget the glimmer of hope I was endeavoring to illustrate through the darkness. This song and the blue skies of Silverton will always bring back a feeling of the possibility of peace.
Silverton has a piece of my heart now. As terrified as I am of the bumpy tiny-planed flight and the subsequent treacherously winding drive it takes to get there, I can’t wait to go back.
It seems like most things worth arriving at require traversing plenty of bumps and turns.