We begin every day at the Barn in the Green Room. In the morning, it’s the corner of the theatre filled to the brim with hazy light, a warm yellow that hangs sleepily over drooping mismatched furniture–couches and recliners decorated with flowers and coffee stains, likely left as complimentary gifts from the 70’s. The green walls, too, are decorated by cast and costumes and props come and gone. A miserable plastic bird flies with the ceiling fan, a company photo is tacked to the wall by the light switch, a cat figurine wearing a pirate’s hat is permanently (and unhappily) perched atop the TV. And now there’s me, the Green Room’s newest addition. I sit by the entrance so that I can overlook everything–and everyone–so that as Mr. Henderson talks, I can imagine the space before me as a faded Polaroid, a glimpse back in time.
And does Mr. Henderson ever talk. He’s a 60-something gentleman with a gentle white mustache to go with, and spindly legs that look as ready to snap in two as they do to run out to the scene shop and start pulling platforms for the set of the next show. He talks at his own pace, which is slow and littered with pauses, like a wind-up metronome creeping to its final tick before it needs to be rewound. He begins every morning, “Good morning. The weather today…” with such an air you’d think perhaps he had roots abroad.
Today, Mr. Henderson made a startling realization. Something along the lines of,
“It occurred to me last night (pause), after I mowed the lawn (pause), that given the technology of today (pause), it is possible (pause), that many of you are able to see the weather whenever you choose, on your gizmos (pause), on your gadgets and what-have-you (pause), and that perhaps (pause), perhaps my daily updates are not as useful as I imagined.”
Mr. Henderson concluded, however, that after thinking it through, he would continue to tell us the weather each morning. That way, if anyone failed to check their devise, or failed to have such a devise (pause), they would be informed.
And I’m glad.
I appreciate my time with the cast and crew in the Green Room each morning. I’m always slightly amused to hear whether I dressed appropriately for the weather. I get a kick out of trying to predict where the spider will appear next and sharing subtle looks with the other actors as Mr. Henderson rambles on.
And though it may seem trivial, I think our morning meetings are a genuinely special time. Perhaps that’s what Mr. Henderson’s grandiose air eludes to. There are many people working at Red Barn this summer, but certainly not all in the same capacity, and to varying degrees with each show. The morning is our chance to connect.
And, after my first week here, I’ve also found our Green Room gathering a time for me to reflect on and appreciate the long tradition I’m entering into–the ‘family’ I’m joining.
Because there was a time when Mr. Henderson did need to report on the weather, when technology was perhaps less abundant, when cast and crew did find such updates necessary. There was a time in which someone spilled coffee on the arm rest, when someone finally decided plaid couches were out of style, a time when the cast photo was proudly stuck to the wall and a homeless plastic bird hung on the ceiling fan. I’m one of many to pass through Red Barn. I’m just one actor from 45 seasons of theatre. All I can hope is that my contribution to this place will be positive. All I can do is try to give the best that I can of my energy, my skill, my patience, my friendship.
So, with that (pause), the summer (pause), shall begin!