At 9 am the phone rang and it was my friend James. Remember James? Theater and Dance teacher/director at Spence School in NYC? I’m sure you met him on some occasion. There’s a picture at the bottom of this post. It took me 20 minutes to find it. 🙂
Yesterday I wrote about our tennis connection but really it was the theater brought us together. Actually it was Kevin’s early passion for theater that brought us together. Being a good, supportive mom and a theater lover, you became a parent to love, one who was willing to chaperone our theater club, trips. You were willing to climb up on the school bus and patiently take on the rocky ride to local spots to see semi-professional and school-based theater productions.
Over time, we got comfortable, sharing great conversations in the darkness, hanging on in the front of the bus while the kids went crazy in the back. We were always hopeful that they would sleep on the ride back, but that NEVER happened. I can’t remember how often I had to take that walk to the rocky walk to the back and do my best teacher routine to get them to calm down, hoping they would be kind. After all, it was Friday night and we were with them and exhausted. Sometimes they tired, but it was their time to explode together. I remember!
We had great conversations about theater and everything else as we traveled up and down route 209 and as we arrived back at school, I prayed that everyone would have a parent waiting to take one or more of their kids home so I could get home It was great that you were always willing to take a few with you if need be.
And as each trip was announced, Kevin was the first to sign up even before he asked you. And slowly I made friends with a parent, maybe my first parent-friend. As a teacher, parent-friends were rare. Maybe because it blurred the lines, but in our case it was a great collaboration in more ways than one, but that’s another story.
James also came to me from our shared passion for theater and given that he taught at a well respected girls school, his approach to high school theater added a different dimension to my thinking. Probably, I would have never wadded in Shakespeare’s icy waters if James hadn’t dropped the gauntlet with his production of Hamlet and then helped walk me through my first efforts with Midsummer.
So what’s this getting to? Okay…
James and I met at Hofstra University, an anniversary of sorts for me, celebrating 20 years since I had been an undergrad there, loving theater but majoring in history. I loved that too. Both of us had enrolled in a 2-week program for directors. Of course the actual course turned out to be nothing like the course blurb but maybe because most of our group were not high school directors there was more time for us to work on the course project and the student actors provided. James and I began our marathon conversations about the guts of directing and after our first presentation, we kept at the sharing and collaborating.
I’m out of the theater world but James is still working in high school theater at Spence and most of our hour-long conversation centered around the play, Our Town. I just went off on my life with the play and James wanted to know everything I was thinking, given that he was in the midst of a production with one month to performance.
My history with the play has been complicated but since my recent visit to your new digs, the final act of the play has been center stage with me. As a kid and a adult director I stayed far away from the play. Lots of high schools performed the play for the wrong reasons. No elaborate sets or costumes, lots of parts and my main charters were in high school. But I slept through most productions because I was bored, that was until I saw a profession production and by the end of the last act I was weeping uncontrollably because it was not a play for kids, not that James couldn’t find a way into it, but we talked about the pitfalls and he listened. interested.
I could see a set of hard-backed chairs at your spot, the living and the dead disconnected. Embracing the day, living in the moment…that’s what I took away from that amazing production.
I can’t wait to see the Spence School production performed in a church, in the round. Wow! Tuvia’s interested 🙂