Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Trashy Mystery, Poignant History
I am exhausted, people! (It's not your fault.) I love this cemetery walk thingey. I've done it since 2001, and I know this because the director came to my house to pick me up for a rehearsal on September 11, saying at the door, "Do you have your tv on?" I did not, but we went inside and saw the second plane hit the tower. No rehearsal that day.
In this cemetery walk, we bring back to life ordinary and extraordinary people who lived in our town and/or are buried here, and it's just amazing. Townspeople come on the weekends, schoolchildren come on the weekdays, and everybody learns a lot, and it is a joyful and moving experience every year.
I was telling the radio interviewer how each year, to write the script, I read all the research and then wait for what comes back, what I remember about that real person's life, not necessarily the public history nor the readily-available facts. This way, we all get to know the person buried there.
Today I found a letter in the mail from a stranger who had attended the walk on the weekend. What a sweet thing. He had gotten to know Helen Davis Stevenson, mother of Adlai the governor, later appointed to the United Nations by President John F. Kennedy. She died before all his accomplishments, but she helped make him a great man.
And to see the sweet faces of children...ah!
Well. I am exhausted because we do this 16 times a day on the weekends, and 24 times a day on the weekdays. Whew! But they feed us.
When I get home, I am too tired to read anything but magazine articles, and then, to make sure I fall asleep, I watch half a movie. Last night it was Mrs. Parker, and the Vicious Circle, because 1) it is long 2) it has a lousy soundtrack 3) people talk at the same time and 4) I am in love with Campbell Scott. Oops. That doesn't put me to sleep, but the other stuff does. Anyhoo....
It's possible that we are all mysteries to each other, yes, but we aren't trashy. This cemetery walk was begun, in part, to reduce vandalism in the cemetery, and it has worked. People love it, schools love it (and Illinois history is part of the curriculum), and we learn to value one another. Yes, let us value one another. Alive and dead.