...the Journal

Refrigerator Door

This is a picture of Lawsuit in concert. The curtains are part of a magnetic photo frame I found and it seemed to complement the photo so well, that I decided to use it. That's Paul, center stage, in his (in)famous green suit.

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That's it for today!



5 January 2001

I’m having a "pissy moment," so anybody who doesn’t want to hear whining is free to go do something else.

Sometimes I feel I spend too much time in this journal talking about Paul. I suppose it’s because I still haven’t quite come to peace with his death in the way I think I have with David’s.

Maybe it was the entry I wrote yesterday about the Sunshine Children’s theatre, which brought memories flooding back. Maybe it was chatting with Peggy this morning about Paul. Or maybe it’s because I have to review Our Town tomorrow night.

Not only Our Town, but Our Town put on by Acme theatre company.

This is only the second time in its history that Acme has presented the Thornton Wilder play. The first time was in 1987 and Paul played the role of the Stage Manager.

Sometimes I worry that in talking about Paul so much in this journal that I do a disservice to our living children, who are wonderful people whom I love with all my heart, and who are each successes in his or her own circle, and of whom I am very proud.

It’s not that I loved Paul any more than the others. But Paul was a high-maintenance kid for me. I was his mother, his publicist, his biggest fan. I tried hard not to be a stage mother. I don’t think I was in the stereotypical sense. I never pushed him, never went to auditions or rehearsals--I scrupulously avoided having anything to do with a show he was in until opening night. But I did talk with him a lot about the shows he was in, or the concerts Lawsuit gave, or the one man shows he was doing. I took it as an incredible compliment when I was in Houston when he was preparing one of his monologue shows a few years ago and two days before the show he called me just to talk for an hour because he wanted to run bits by me and get my opinion. It was as if we were part of a team.

So knowing that I’m going to be seeing Our Town tomorrow night is evoking all sorts of "Paul moments" for me.

For those who are unfamiliar with the play, it is a simple, straight-forward examination of small town American life of almost a century ago, but, as Wilder wrote, "Our Town is not offered as a picture of life in a New Hampshire village, or as a speculation about conditions of life after death...It is an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events of our daily life."

The character of the Stage Manager, who narrates the production, "embodies the spirit of the town, selecting and presenting the scenes with a view to demonstrating the ideas behind them."

By the time Acme did Our Town in 1987, Paul had been performing for several years. He had done the little kid parts, like Oliver in Oliver! and Winthrop in Music Man, as well as a host of leading roles in SCT shows. But people who watched him grow up in theatre agreed that the Stage Manager was one of his best roles.

I’m not sure how I’ll handle seeing someone standing there doing "Paul’s role," talking about the townspeople lying in the Grover’s Corners cemetery while Paul himself is lying a few miles away in the Davis cemetery.

So today is kind of a teary day. I hope by tomorrow I’ll be in "critic" mode and can critique the production on its own merit, and not compare it to the 1987 production.

One great memory of the 1987 production, though, occurred midway through the first act. The action takes place on the whole stage, while the Stage Manager stands downstage and off to the side. Paul’s friend Dave, an adolescent with Downs Syndrome, always came to all the shows and for this particular production, he arrived late. He walked down the side aisle of the theatre to the front row and walked across the front of the theatre to his seat. As he passed, he lifted a hand and called out "Hi, Paul!" It was kind of a sweet moment. Paul remained in character. Mostly.


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Created 1/5/01 by Bev Sykes