Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Road Trip and an 'Accident'



I'm sitting in a Days Inn in Rexburg Idaho tonight after an interesting day. This morning I woke up (in Provo) and decided that no matter what happened, I was going to drive to Rexburg this afternoon.

I've been trying in vain for the last few days to rally people to go with me, but let's be honest, despite having great and supportive friends, some things are only important to yourself. No matter how you try to convince people that a road trip to Idaho would be "loads of fun" all they hear is..."road trip to Idaho". Perhaps if they knew of the beauty of places like Couer D'Alene, or Sun Valley, or had spent summers taking motorboat trips around Red Fish Lake, such a journey would sound more exciting. Somehow people still think Idaho is the mountain west equivalent of Iowa.

But my narcissism needed to be taken down a peg anyway, and to my benefit, it turned out a solo four hour car trip was just what I needed. I got to drive through some beautiful snow filled mountains, (no...that was sincerity) and I was able to fill the empty hours with my thoughts. I was able to reevaluate my place in the universe and check my bearings. Turns out I'm not doing too bad (Narcissism returning to previous healthy levels).

I made the trip because a friend of mine from college, Nancy Harvey (now Robinson) had mounted a production of a play I wrote at BYU-Idaho called "Accident, West Virginia" at Sugar-Salem High School. A school name I've always found intriguing, because to me nothing goes better with witch trials than all natural sweetener.

'Accident' is a farce, and let's be honest something I wrote eight years ago when I was young and stupid. A time when my idea of comedy was long bouts of flowery language said by what some might consider ignorant townsfolk. Yes Jeff, we've all seen 'Wayne's World', and yes it is very funny when Alice Cooper talks eloquently about the history of Wisconsin, but why don't you come up with some of your own ideas from now on.

That being said the play does have its moments, and darn it if Nancy didn't pick a great cast, and build a beautiful set that would put student theater productions at BYU-Idaho to shame.

You'd be surprised driving into Sugar City. It's a town of a little over 1,200 people, and maybe two stoplights, and yet it's a place that has produced seven teams of state high school wrestling champions, and has enough drama students to put on a play with twelve main characters. (Yeah that's right twelve...like I said...I wrote it in college). Sugar City is not a big city...it's not even a big town, and let's just say it wasn't hard to find the high school.

But as I pulled into Sugar-Salem's parking lot, I began to be really nervous. What if this whole thing was a joke, an elaborate ruse to expose myself and a high school drama teacher as classless frauds, and neither Nancy nor I were smart enough to see how bad it was? Maybe the kids were powerless to tell their teacher what a horrible mistake she had made, and the parents were too concerned for their children's self-esteem to tell them what a nightmare they had created. I was nervous because sometimes hearing my own words said aloud can be like a well-placed dagger to the tympanic membrane. Yes...I'm a perfectionist in treatment.

Somehow though at the end of the night; through an hour and 45 minutes of sitting tensely I arose from my seat, totally relieved, and with a huge smile, amid an audience that wore similar expressions. The kids and Nancy had pulled off some terrific comedic timing, making my work look much better than it actually was, and even came up with a much bigger zinger of a last line. It was amazing. I felt like a hundred fireworks had simultaneously exploded inside my chest...but ya know...in a good way.

The only awkward moment of the night came when after the kids gave Nancy her flowers she pointed me out to the audience, and I couldn't pull myself out of my seat to stand up. All I gave was a half hearted little wave, that I'm sure very few people saw.

The best part came soon after however when Nancy introduced me to the cast, and I was able to meet these young strangers who had been working on my play for the last three months. We took pictures together on set, and talked about the process. Some of the nicest kids you'll ever meet. I was smiling so much that if I was a european luxury car I'd be a beamer, and it's for lines like that my friends, that they pay me the big bucks. Who says I couldn't be a writer?

5 comments:

BKStapf said...

so i don't really have any business saying "i'm proud of you". i'm not your mom. or your ladypartner. or even a member of your extended family.. but that's what i feel, mr.
so, i am proud of you! a great little show that 8 years later is still funny and worthy of auditions and sets and costumes and hours and hours of rehearsal. well done, you. and i'm proud to have been a part of this - no matter how vapid and fuzzybrained my character may have been!

Will Rubio said...

I enjoyed your post. Way to go buddy.

jeffrey said...

Don't worry Brittany. I think I'm going to do a version of it in Provo. I'm going to rewrite it a bit, and make it run a little smoother, but I think it will be fun. You should audition! And thank you much Will! I wish you were going to be around to play Agent Matheson in it. :)

Jules said...

Did you have fireworks in a Katy Perry sort of way? :-) I'm so glad you went.

Jamie Johnson-Andrews said...

Way to go Jeff Blake! That is awesome! You are a funny, and talented guy.