Each issue's From the Editor column is a time of reflection. The one for our issue on the theatre has been this weekend's assignment, well...the start of the column, anyway. Research, actually. I've been putting it off because discovering the answers to my questions would require me digging through our storage room, unearthing my old Navy trunk, and digging through old Boy Scout belt buckle merit badges and newspapers--under which I would reach my destination: two decades worth of journals. What's the big deal? A nasty case of tendinitis in my elbow. My doctor gave me a week's worth of meds for it, but they didn't help. So, I grunted and hunted my way through my memories this afternoon as I searched for the source of the column's inspiration. Of course, it was in the very last journal that I went through. That's okay. I had a great time flipping through all those memories.
Anyway, the theater column....
Fifteen Years. Wow: it's been that long, that long since I've seen Bill's The Tempest at the annual Shakespeare in the Park, here in Nashville. (That's me, or it was back in '99 when I saw the play.)
As soon as I knew we were going to publish a theater issue, I was hoping I could find it. After all these years, I wasn't even sure if it was true, if it happened at all. Memory is so unreliable, at least mine can be.
Many years ago, we took some of our friends from out west with us to Shakespeare in the Park. We had a wonderful time. I sent a local paper a letter to the editor, saying how much we loved it. In my mind, there was a follow up letter to the editor, in which I was slammed because we took wine with us to the park.
I justified taking the wine to the park because I had lived in Europe for several years, and over there it's allowed and normal to have a little wine at a public arts event/performance. Honest mistake.
I was sad when I reached the last journal because it was the one for 1999, and I felt that I went to a performance closer to my return from Europe, the start of the '90s. There it was, in late summer, just where it was supposed to be: my letter to the editor. Since I had been home for a decade, I suppose I can't blame my Shakespearean libations on European influences. Oh well. And there was no counter letter to the editor, either, but something similar had happened. The paper had published my email address, and I had received the attack first hand, thanks to the Internet.
But that's really not what is going to inspire my column. You see, all these years, I had forgotten that there was someone else involved in this story...all along. A key, important player in this company.
Can you believe it? Denice Hicks, the In Depth Interview/Cover Story person! I promise: this is no hustle. I was shocked, flipping the journal pages from 1999 to find an email from her, in reply to my letter to the editor.
That's how long she's had a vested interest in our artistic community. Longer, actually. I'm sure she's been writing letters and emails to people all over the state for decades.
You don't have to take my word for it. Included in this posting is my letter, the journal entry, and Denice's email from 1999. Take a look and be as happily shocked as I was. And while you're at it, why don't you plan on coming and supporting her and the Nashville Shakespeare Festival at this summer's Shakespeare in the Park. It starts in a week! She's the director this summer, just as she was back in '99. You'll have a great time, promise. Probably best, though, to leave the libations at home. There's plenty of cold stuff at the food trucks in the park, anyway. :-)