Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Note For the Cast & Crew of Driving Miss Daisy

So, the run of Driving Miss Daisy at Possum Point Players has been finished for almost two weeks now.  My sense is that it was a success in every way for Possums, and my hope is that choosing well-written material, material that a cast and crew can get excited about, continues to be the trend at PPP.  Suffice it to say, I've come away from the experience of performing in Driving Miss Daisy with a great deal of satisfaction.

It is due to that satisfaction that I wish to reach out to the wonderful cast and crew I got to work with on this show.  Personally, I am not big on the "circle" tradition that most community theaters in the area have.  Don't get me wrong - I completely see the value in it, especially as a morale raiser just before a show.  But, my mindset is usually in need of quiet contemplation before walking onto the stage, and "circle" takes me out of that much needed space.


The result is that I listen as people speak, but I rarely have much to say during it.  And, when it is done, I go back to my quiet as best I can.  It usually isn't until a show is done and I've had a chance to reflect on it that I have anything much to say at all.  And, that is what I would like to do right now.


Although a short play (it clocks in at just under an hour and half), Driving Miss Daisy requires an ongoing collaboration between cast and crew the likes of which I have never experienced in a show.  I give our light and sound crew as well as the stage crew a lot of credit for creating a unique look and feel for this production.  From the opening notes of the mood-setting music to the final dimming of Miss Daisy's living room lamp, the show just looked and sounded wonderful.  And, the scene transitions were smooth and felt like organic parts of the story.


Special mention needs to go out to our costume and make-up crew.  My character alone had eight or nine costume changes, some of them very quick ones, and each one subtly suggested the progression of time, something that was a key ingredient for this show.  Along with the costumes, the three of us cast members had to be aged; I alone was supposed to age from 40 to 67, so, in some ways, I had the most dramatic change to undergo.  As such, our make-up and costuming crew was just as active backstage as we were onstage.  And any success the show has had is due in large part to the efforts of those individuals.


I do feel I need to make particular note of two crew members who were especially helpful to me during the show's run.  Ashlie Workman and Elizabeth Holz alternately made it possible for me to get through my costume changes in a timely manner.  They each knew my costume changes better than I ever could, and I marveled at how they were always prepared with a shirt ready for me to put on or a new tie for an upcoming scene.  I have nothing but gratitude for the invaluable assistance they were to me.

As for my fellow cast mates: Claudius Bowden and Stephanie Allman, getting to play these finely written scenes with the two of them each show night was one of the best theater experiences I've ever had.  It is a rare pleasure in community theater to work with people who can pick up what you are putting down and vice versa in order to make scenes feel fresh and new each night.  I am so grateful we got to go on this journey together of discovering our characters and making the scenes work.

And, last but not least, my illustrious director, Becky Craft.  I know she didn't plan on directing this piece and that part of her wishes the opportunity had never been there to begin with as it was the result of dear friend's illness, but I consider myself damn lucky to have gotten to work with her twice now on two of the best written stage dramas of the last century.  When I first worked with her on Doubt, I appreciated how every choice she made as director was informed by the script, through valid interpretation of the piece we were trying to bring to life.  The same held true throughout Driving Miss Daisy, and I came away believing we managed to create something very special.  That feeling is all because of Becky and the creative leadership she provided throughout this whole production.

I have said before that I view theater productions as ephemeral experiences, meant to be savored in the moment and nowhere else, so I never wax nostalgic for a show I have completed.  But, I will have great memories of Driving Miss Daisy for a long time to come.

Thank you all, and best wishes for the future!

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