Tag Archives: David Auburn

The Transformative Power of Theatre – A Patron’s Perspective

“To enter a theatre for a performance is to be inducted into a magical space, to be ushered into the sacred arena of the imagination.”
– Simon Callow

I had to take some time to share an audience member’s thoughts after watching our latest performance of Proof by David Auburn at our little theatre in Ashe County, North Carolina.  If you’ve ever been a part of the theatre in any fashion — or even if you’ve ever found yourself sitting in an audience — these words are for you.  We are all storytellers, each and every one of us.

Thank you, David, for these magical words.

Ashe County Little Theatre’s Proof by David Auburn / Photo by: Bobbi Jo Scott

ASHE COUNTY LITTLE THEATER
by David Desautels

Since seeing the most excellent latest production by the Ashe County Little Theater on opening night this past Friday, I’ve been wondering about why I like going to plays so much.

Growing up in our household money was scarce. But we always had books. And books meant travel, if only in my mind.

My mother and I journeyed down the Mighty Mississippi River visiting Tom Sawyer and even stopping by Uncle Tom’s Cabin. A bout of strep throat and missing school for a week set me on my journey without even leaving my Jefferson bedroom.

I remember begging Mom to read “just one more chapter” and next thing you know I was in Missouri with an eye on Tom conning his buddies into whitewashing a fence.

She read to me after a long day at work and fixing dinner for the remaining four (of seven) kids. She read till she could hardly talk, her voice barely above a whisper at times.

Her reading to me was the highlight of my day. That is until she suggested that, while she was gone, I might pick up the book myself.

I did. And that led to a lifetime of adventure. Marco Polo took me along with him from Italy to China. George Washington let me take a swing at the cherry tree with his axe. Zane Grey allowed me to shoot up the Old West.

Helen Keller won me over with her triumph over tragedy. Abe Lincoln encouraged me to keep the kerosene lantern burning. And George Washington Carver elevated the lowly peanut to a place of honor practically making it an obligation to eat peanut butter.

Louis Pasteur made milk drinkable. Henry Mortin Stanley’s “Dr. Livingston I presume” made Africa accessible. And Thomas Edison made discoveries believable.

Which leads me back to the Ashe County Little Theater by way of The Parkway Theatre. A 6th grade outing there to see Gone With the Wind made Margaret Mitchell’s classic come to life in full color.

Friday night at the play I, once again, traveled to another place. I do it with books, movies and, especially, plays. For two hours my normal world stands still and I am in an alternate reality.

I BECAME THE CHARACTERS. ALL OF THEM.

Over the years, our Little Theater has taken me places.
All with ordinary people putting in extraordinary performances.

I’ve seen a pharmacist become a lawyer. A teacher become a Steel Magnolia. A radio repairman become a radio announcer. A paralegal become a director.

Ordinary people–a shopkeeper conducting an orchestra, a local funny guy putting on a robe and being a judge, a kid becoming an Orphan. A barista becoming transformed into a math wiz.

Local people giving their talents as set designers, ticket takers, actors, sound and lighting wizards.

And, to my knowledge, not a single one of them makes a penny for their efforts.

But that’s not to say they don’t get paid. Their currency is the applause they receive from folks like me who, for a couple of hours, travel the world without ever leaving our precious county.

Thanks Ashe County Little Theater for your decades of tireless and selfless giving.

***

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”
– Chinese Proverb

 

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Proof

“Of course we all come to the theatre with baggage. The baggage of our daily lives, the baggage of our problems, the baggage of our tragedies, the baggage of being tired. It doesn’t matter what age you are. But if our hearts get opened and released — well that is what theatre can do, and does sometimes, and everyone is thankful when that happens.”
– Vanessa Redgrave

Tonight is Ashe County Little Theatre’s opening night of PROOF by David Auburn. I’m the director.

The director.

As someone who has only chosen to be on the stage for 30+ years, this is the first time that I’ve truly seen the “other side” of theatre. I’ve been a part of this process from the very beginning – from the very first day as I sat all curled up on my couch in my pajamas reading this random script that I had found at Goodwill.  (Yes! Goodwill!)  I’m not generally a “script reader.” But this one caught my attention – not only because I found it at Goodwill (I mean, seriously – who finds a theatre script at Goodwill!?), but because of the content. It was amazing. It was funny, dramatic, romantic, sad….real. I was hooked.

I remember gasping during one part and my husband looking over at me asking if I was okay. I looked up at him and my only response was, “I have to direct this show.”  Not, I want to be in this show.  But I want to direct it. I had never directed anything before. But I knew now was the time.

And here I am a few years later. After months of worrying, laughing, crying, rehearsing, rehearsing, and more rehearsing, I will have the privilege and honor of watching my beautiful cast make this story come to life tonight at the Ashe Civic Center.

Photo by Troy Brooks of Ashe Mountain Times

I want you to take a look at this group of people here to your right. These people (including a few more who aren’t pictured) have become my family. While struggling to bring you, the audience, a story about love, life, loss and moving on, each and every one you see sitting on that stage has been going through the exact same things in their personal lives. Bringing you a little two-hour production is not easy. Each of us are real people – we have lives off of the stage. And if you can name it, someone on that stage has probably experienced it in the past few months. Marital problems, job losses, family trouble…even the death of family members (two of us lost our grandmothers and one of us lost our mother, just in the eight weeks of rehearsals for this show). So much life has been happening to us behind the scenes.

But has that stopped us?  Nope.

The love of theatre – the love of art itself – is a hard thing to describe. You know the saying, the show must go on? Well, it must. It’s a pull in our souls that we can’t explain. We have to tell you this story. We just have to. All of us. From the director, to the volunteers who are moving the set around in between scenes – each and every one of us knows that we have to play our part in bringing you this story. Why? Heck, we don’t know. We just know it has to be told. And nothing will stop us from telling it.

I hope you’ll find a way to come see our show. We have poured our heart and soul into telling you a story, and we want you to come hear it. We want you to find yourself in this show – whether it be remembering what a first love felt like, remembering the tragedy of a loss, or finding confidence in yourself to pursue the dreams you know you’re capable of – you are going to see a piece of you in one or more of these characters.

This is theatre.  We have all felt what each other has felt, and we are going to get up on a stage and show you that. You are not alone. None of us are.

Come join our family this weekend, won’t you?

Allow me to leave you with the perfect words to describe our show and why you should be there. This is from one of the four stars of Proof: my dear friend, Ike Smith.

“Proof is a thoughtful, compelling story that at its root is about relationships: parent/child, sibling/sibling, and romantic. It’s about how people connect — or disconnect — when life becomes unexpected and uncertain. It’s about how we deal with conflict, both internal and external.

Is PROOF a comedy? Maybe, -ish. Is it a drama? Sort of. Sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it’s serious, and that’s life. PROOF is real.

David Auburn wrote a great story, and we’ve got a great cast and crew to tell it for you. If you can, please join us. You won’t regret it.”

See you tonight!


***

“The theater-goer in conventional dramatic theater says: Yes, I’ve felt that way, too. That’s the way I am. That’s life. That’s the way it will always be. The suffering of this or that person grips me because there is no escape for him. That’s great art — Everything is self-evident. I am made to cry with those who cry, and laugh with those who laugh.”
– Bertolt Brecht

All show rehearsal photos by Bobbi Jo Scott, Producer.