Letters to Holly

Saturday, November 22

I'm Sort Of A Winner

The annual theatre awards banquet is new for me. It's been held, I understand, each of the company's 58 years, and the last occurred before the courtroom drama opened. It was held this year at a local church assembly hall. A dinner was offered, but I preferred to skip that and give myself an easier transition from work commute to the banquet.

I arrived as the dinner wound down and sat with the spring director, his wife, another member of the script committee (that made four of us seated there), her spouse, and two actors I worked with in the courtroom play. We made chitchat before the award section began. A program listed a number of categories and nominations. I was up for best actor in a lead role along with Doc, who played the opposing attorney in the courtroom play. The directors of each of the previous season's plays were to speak, but only half were in attendance. Those who were there included our original Marley, who directed a farce, my spring director, and another script committee member who directed the summer kids show.

The director of the annual playwriting contest production spoke at length about the new facility and what he wants to do with next year's contest winner and then he segued into a tirade about the lack of new blood in the theatre. He bemoaned the company's ability to lure youngsters on- and backstage, and he went on for a while. Eventually, a voice from the back called out to remind him he was supposed to talk about the previous show. He finished up and sat down. The wife of the summer musical director continued his comments and pointed out that none of the awards were for crew. That, she said, might have something to do with the inability to attract new people. The room tensed up after this, and the spring director assured her she wasn't alone in her notion, and the matter would be corrected next year.

They undercut my planned comments as I was hoping to acknowledge the crews during my acceptance speech. It's a good thing they spoke out because I never got a chance to accept anything. I didn't win. I'm OK with that. I don't do this for awards, and I clearly recognize that I'm a rookie for these folks, and they don't know me enough to toss me a trinket. Those who did win deserved the attention.

The theatre higher-ups choose a best play, and public ballots allow audiences to pick their favorite. Now, it's a given that the last show of the year -- and a musical, to boot -- will win the people's choice award. And it did. That show can't be dismissed; it did so well, it was held over for an extra performance. That's incredibly rare in community theatre. But we were told that a computation mishap resulted in an initially incorrect winner, and a second award was given. That went to our spring murder play. My director and I were the only ones present, and we had our pictures taken with the award which he rightfully will place on his mantle.

A special award was given to our original Marley. He's undergoing chemo for leukemia, and the award and ovation felt like a eulogy. The theatre properly offered gratitude for his work, but also said implicitly is the fear he's not going to be around this time next year. He choked up, and my heart breaks for him. I still don't see how he can direct the next play.

Your Sis emailed me to mention a pajama/book donation drive created by a high-school senior. The local fishwrapper didn't run the press release, and she feared a low turnout. I skipped over to KMart and bought an armful of PJ sets for boys and girls. I made sure to buy something Your Sis would be willingly to give a young girl, so no cutsey-wootsey animals or princess themes. When I got to the bookstore, I ran into some teacher buddies. I also bought two kids books by Adam Rex. I discovered his books earlier this year, and had eight-year-old me found them, he would have thought them the bestest thing in the history of ever. I also offered to read from them at the local elementary school. (Stop the press: I just read on his blog that he received the North Carolina Book Award for his latest book earlier this month.)

I dropped by the new theatre space to see the new paint and chat with some backstage folks. We won't get a new stage curtain for our Christmas show, but I commented that we have such a simple set, that we may not need a dramatic unveiling. But I have no say in the matter.

I worked a bit on the origin page of a comic project and mulched the leaves. I stacked them in the compost pile which is now towering and swaying in the wind. I fed Your Stuffed-up Sister and tucked her into bed early. She slept most of Sunday, and I tackled grociers and laundry. Didn't look at the script once, and I plan to review it before Monday's rehearsal.

Picture of the Day
The theatre ballot chief (left) hands the second-best people's choice award to me and the director (right).

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