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This Day in My History


Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.

~ Rod Serling

Yesterday's Entries

2000: If You Want to Make God Laugh... 
2002:  Speechless
2003:  Playing the Waiting Game


Breakfast:  Quaker Natural Cereal
Lunch:  Salami Sandwich
Dinner:  BBQ Chicken


A Walk in the Woods
Bill Bryson

(I'm still reading at Clinton's book, but I'll just post when/if I finish it rather than keep it on here every day!)


Jeopardy, of course!

Buy my stuff at Lulu!



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I used to have these round things that my people called "balls" which I liked to chase.  When my friend Buddy stayed with me, he tore them up.  I found this piece of one of the balls the other day.  I can't understand why my person laughed when I asked her to throw it for me.

Check a Sheila Video
("See Sheila run--Run, Sheila, Run!")



17 July 2004
(happy birthday, Marta!)

I used to love "career" books when I was a kid. I just devoured them: Sue Barton, Private Nurse; Cherry Ames, Army Nurse...a book about someone who asked questions for surveys; a female pilot, and other career type fiction books. The "career" equivalent of Harlequin romance novels, I suspect. There was probably some factory somewhere churning them out, like the one which produced all those Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries.

I feel myself the heroine in one of those novels this week, though. I am "Bev Sykes, intrepid reporter," zipping hither and yon, setting up interviews, sending e-mails, searching the Internet.

When I am assigned to do a feature story, I immediately go through the tortures of the damned. I’m going to botch it. I won’t be able to write anything coherent. I’ll sound like an idiot when I do an interview, etc., etc., etc.

Well, all of those things may, in fact, be true, but nonetheless, I’ve accepted the assignment, I have a deadline, and there ain’t gonna be nobody who’s going to get this story written but me!

I haven’t quite accepted the amount of power I have in writing such a story. I haven’t quite digested the fact that my editor may toss out a story idea he’d like me to handle, but that I am the one to choose the direction the story takes, and submit that idea to him for approval. I keep waiting for his ideas of what exactly he wants so I can fill in the gaps.

My assignment was to do a feature article on the upcoming Ghost Light Theatre Festival. This is a collaborative effort, begun a couple of years ago, between Acme Theatre, which is a group of teens, now, unbelievably, in its 24th year (Jeri joined in the second season, Paul and Marta a year or two after that), and a group of students at U.C. Davis.

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Jeri and the cast of U.S.A., her first Acme show, in 1983
(the company is still using the blocks they are sitting on!)

The Ghost Light project started three summers ago when Tom Burmester, the son of Dave Burmester, the founder and director of Acme Theatre, needed a summer project and hit upon doing this festival. It succeeded so well they repeated it last year, and this year it gets a feature article.

But, as usual, I’ve been putting off starting the research for the article because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I should have just plunged in head first because after one brief interview with Dave at rehearsal for Romeo and Juliet the whole shape of it came to me.

A "ghost light" is a lamp with a single bulb that is left on stage when there is no one in the theatre. The practical advantage is that the last people out of the theatre and the first people in won’t have to be in a totally blackened building and won’t fall into the orchestra pit.

The historical reasons for its existence are many and varied and include keeping theatre ghosts away, it being a fire regulation in New York, that it was a requirement by Actors’ Equity, etc.

Whatever the history, the ghost light is a well recognized symbol of the theatrical world and much romanticized in movies about theatre.

I began my research for this article by interviewing Dave Burmester, who says that one of the special thing about this year’s Ghost Light festival is that Acme will be presenting two shows, Romeo and Juliet and Lady Windemere’s Fan. Dave will be directing the first show, and an Acme alum, Emily Henderson, is directing the second. "It’s the first non-Burmester directed show to appear on the main stage," Dave said proudly, of his protégé, now a student at Wellesley College.

Immediately the focus of the story came to me--that of blending the ideas of the ghost light and a torch which is being passed. Dave retired from his job as English teacher for the high school a couple of years ago, has had some serious health problems, and will soon begin to pull back from his involvement with Acme. The group has been such an important part of the community for nearly a quarter of a century and the question, logically, becomes: what will happen to Acme when Dave retires?

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Paul in his first Acme Show, Inherit the Wind.
(he's wearing his famous "green suit" for the first time)

Though the issue of Acme’s future is not the purpose for the Ghost Light Festival, this year’s festival is definitely a part of the answer to that question, so the leap from a "ghost light" to a torch being passed seems to be a logical one.

And, as I am always surprised to discover, interviewing people really isn’t that bad. You essentially start with my grandfather’s standard opener, "tell me all about yourself" and the interview kind of takes on a life of its own.

I wish I knew why I get such "performance anxiety" about these assignments. So far they’ve always worked out much better than I ever anticipated.

Must Read Link of the day



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Jeri, Joe Hayes and Stephanie Teal rehearsing for U.S.A
Joe went on to become one of the early members of Lawsuit and is still a good friend to Jeri and Ned.

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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