The Blue Raccoon

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back in Richmond...
In time for Oscars, and "A Thing Of Beauty" at the Firehouse

That's the graphic for the current offering on the boards at the Firehouse Theatre Project, designed by a good friend of the company, Jason Smith, who creates all the theater's print collateral.

Amie and me are just returned to Colonial Ave after an arduous and at times harrowing, while also surreal and comic, journey into Mississippi. This was one of the most trying experiences I've ever witnessed any family go through and such circumstances bring out everything in stark relief.

I'll give an impressionistic overview of the Mississippi pilgrimage; but seems to me, adapted into a screenplay, and in capable hands, an adaptation of the week's Deep South drama and trauma could make for Oscar material.

The event fills the criteria of a film: the story must have an identifiable rising action and conclusion and involve a singluar important moment in the lives of the people. The period is bracketed by a death and a funeral and self-contained in a car trip, a hotel, a funeral home, a church and a few residences. Perhaps art is a way to make some sense of the whole thing; except this happened to quite real people in actual time and I was there as not a journalist, but a mourner. And though a part of the family through marriage, and affected by their shared tragedy, I was also something of an outside observer, though my origins are in Richmond. Virginia isn't the "South" despite the accident of Civil War history.

A map in the Bypass restaurant next to the Rose Hills Best Western showed the Southeast that begins at the North Carolina border. The Old Dominion is a Mid-Atlantic state; with Delaware, Maryland and sometimes Pennsylvania. And a journey of 15 hours by car demonstrates that Mississippi is a different part of the world, one that is both familiar and possessing idiosyncratic characters and aspects -- for good and otherwise.

We got home, unpacked and sorted out in time to collapse in front of the television to watch the 80th Cinematic Run for the Gold. I enjoyed the memorable past moments montages but learned that many of these came out of the scenes culled for Oscar's launch onto YouTube. I hope they put the opening animation up, which was enjoyable, and I want to pick out the classic film elements that flashed by. I've seen none of the major winners and hope they arrive at the Byrd soon.

But one place in Richmond you can go to see some great performances is at the Firehouse Theatre Project where Sam Shepard's The Late Henry Moss is on the boards. The Times-Dispatch review calls the show "a thing of beauty" and you can't ask for better than that. Morrie Piersol directs Bill Patton, Jen Meharg, Jeff Clevenger and Scott Wichmann, on sets designed by Maury Hancock. We've not yet seen the show, which opened while we were out of town, but I'm anxious to.

Right now, billion-eyed audience, while we are glad to be home, the pile of work with which both Amie and I must now contend is daunting.

More in the coming days about this and that.

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