Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Post Mortem or Mortem Post?

I have returned home from Wilmington. I thought I would have time to post some blogs while in the moment of filming "The Two and Only" but that was not to be.  
Starting on Wednesday of last week it was like getting ready for the launch of a NASA rocket.  Each step had to be done in sequence before we could take off on Saturday for the actual filming. Because they had an event at the theatre on Wednesday night we could not load in the set until about 10:00pm.  Scenic Asylum pulled an all night-er to get it up so we could focus lights on Thursday. The set looked beautiful. Terry and Robert who own Scenic Asylum are artists of the highest order. 
Bryan ran a stop action camera looking at the stage during the construction and setting lights.  It looks like a bee hive of activity at that speed. My heart went out to John Ivy who had to call circuit numbers and focus the plot while hammers boomed and the smell of paint made everyone light headed. 
We shot a rehearsal with a small crowd on Friday and used the time to have cameras on stage to film the "reverse" angles of the show.  Then Saturday we went for the gold with two performances and for the most part got what we wanted.  Sunday we spent five hours doing some pick up shots for insurance.  Just to make sure that we got the crosses and some of the movements clean. 
For me, no matter how well the shows go there is always something in the nuance of the performance I would have corrected the next night if we had the time.  At the matinee John said he missed a lighting cue because he was watching one of the monitors and got caught up in the beauty.  No one knew but me and we got it on the next performance. By the time we wrapped on Sunday I was so exhausted I felt like a deflated moon bounce. I was a complete zombie on the flight home the next morning at 6:00am. Bryan and I have decided that we will not even look at the dailies until October.  It will help to get some perspective on the project before we jump into it again. 
The theatre is definitely haunted.  As I was packing up in the empty theatre on Saturday night I heard someone walking around in the upper balcony. They refer to that part of the theatre as the "slave benches".  It is a section of church like pews with a separate entrance from the rest of the theatre. It was used at a time when the theatre was segregated.  I was always drawn to that section of the theatre because it seemed to be the most honest and looked most like the old theatre that it is. But there was definitely someone or something up there that night.  I was so sure it was a camera man retrieving cables that I called out several times.  There was never an answer back.
As long as we are talking "other worldly" events there was one that was special.  I took over the dressing room mid week and made it as comfortable as I could. Just before the evening show on Saturday the feather of a crow or raven appeared on one of my cases.  I am sure that is wasn't there before that moment.  It is almost the one year anniversary of the death of my Father. He died just before I did this show in Rochester on a Saturday evening.  That day I had an experience with a raven or crow that I knew was some sort of symbol for my Dad.  The raven feather in my dressing room immediately reminded me of that moment.
I usually carry small items in my pocket for good luck while I am on stage.  To keep from loading my pockets too much I have a small red cloth bag that travels with me in the makeup case, and I keep the "used Talisman's" there.  
Most of the time it is a coin that means something to me.  For these shows it was a gold stuck coin of my face that Clinton Detweiler did as a part of his vent series of coins.  Since I felt like the feather was a talisman from my Dad I put it in my pocket before I went on stage. I wanted him to be with me for this important event, as he was always so supportive of my show and my career.
I was comforted when I would gently touch the feather when reaching into my pocket on stage. It was a physical reminder of my Dad.  I remember touching the feather just before I delivered the final dramatic Arthur Sieving story.  
At the end of the show I was changing clothes and reached into my pocket to get the feather. My plan was to put it in the red bag with the rest of my memorable icons. The feather was gone. I checked the floor around me, went back on stage to see if it had dropped out of my pocket. It was no where to be found.  I searched and searched and retraced the path I took to and from stage to try and find it.  It vanished as mysteriously as it appeared. It was my Dad.  He was there when I needed him but reminded me that I don't have to have physical reminders that he is always around now.  I broke down and cried with a feeling of joy and connection with Dad.
With so much goodness looking over this show  the music issues will "fall in perfect order" I have no doubt. 
As you were,


Tom Farrell said...

Jay, you show made your father proud. As i look at my copy of the Jay Johnson Detweiler coin just now, I seem to see an extra special smile that wasn't there before.
Bravo, I can't wait for the DVD to come out!

Keith Suranna said...

Hi Jay,

I have read nothing but excellent reviews of your shows in Wilmington, and I can't wait to buy the DVD. Thank you for the beautiful story about your dad and the feather. It particularly touched me, as my own father died about a year ago.

By the way, I really enjoyed your recent talk on Ventriloquist Central. I look forward to your "tongue-in-cheek" vent book, when it's completed.

Take good care,

Tracy said...

So now you have officially brought tears to my eyes, twice! With this story and the ending of your show, both so touching.

Your show was wonderful and I will add my tiny two cents to the blogging world about it when I get caught up on my own writing deadlines, I hope I can do the experience justice. I have to say though my favorite moment from the event wasn't in the show, it was after. As we sat down out of the way with Dallas waiting to meet you, I watched as you so kindly dealt with the fans that stayed to meet you. I haven't experienced this kind of thing, but I imagine it can sometimes be tiring or even ill-timed when you have just finished a show, but you handle it so well. And then, just for a moment, time stopped for me as I watched you interact with a young girl who had brought her sock puppet. I wondered, maybe even knew, in that very moment you had given her a gift that would last a lifetime, a memory, an inspiration, whatever, maybe as your mentor had done for you, but her face said it all. All I could think of was something my father told me, "the worth of even the greatest of men can always been seen in how he treats the littlest ones of our society." You showed yourself a great man. JMHO.

And glad you experienced one or two of our lady's ghosts. Dallas knows a few of them by name, I keep wanting him to introduce them to me! I know they exist because my son is one of the most reality based people I know, and he believes.

Thank you again for a unique experience.

P. Grecian said...

The update and comments on the show were great to have (I confess I'd been waiting for them), and I read eagerly...the story about your dad and the feather was absolutely lovely.

Bob Baker said...

Let me add that the two performances (and particularly Sat. evening) where the best of the 4 times I've seen the show. Jay was definitely "on," and the audiences were very receptive. It seems they got every joke and nuance.

It was great listening to the local folks who came to the show because it was part of their subscription series. They were commenting that they had no idea the show would be so good. They were extremely impressed by Jay's skill and great sense of humor. There is no doubt they left with a wonderful impression of the art of ventriloquism and the artist who performed it.