May 18, 2007

The Last Night of Ballyhoo

My last production at Pine Castle was The Last Night of Ballyhoo. We closed about two weeks ago.

It is a beautiful little play, with characters that audiences fell in love with. It’s that perfect blend of comedy and drama. Not enough of either and too much of both to be called just one or the other. (nice sentence, huh?) And the themes are quite moving.

Here’s a taste of what the audience experienced…

The poster…

The set…

The opening “Notes from the Director”…

How Am I Not Myself?

A recent film depicted a man who sought out metaphysical counselors to help him with his feelings of despair. At one point, the counselors challenged the man about being true to himself and he asked “How am I not myself?” The counselors laughed out loud. So, he asked again and they laughed harder.

I think the question haunts us all. What is our truest identity and how do we stay authentic to it?

The characters of the quirky little family we meet in Ballyhoo are wrestling with their identity as well. A Jewish family wouldn’t normally fit into the upper crust of 1939 Atlanta society. They must make frequent choices about “how Jewish” they want to be.

More than one eyebrow has been raised about a Christian school theatre department tackling a play about Jews and their culture. But I think there’s a universal nature to this struggle. How can we be Christians in this society? And even within the Christian subculture, how are we true to the most essential teachings of our faith?

Ironically, it’s by putting on false identities (acting) that we can get a clear picture of people struggling with their sense of self.

It’s my hope with this show, as it is with all my shows, that you’ll walk away re-thinking who you truly are and asking “How am I not myself?”

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." -William Shakespeare

Daniel A. Buck

Director, Theatre Arts
The show…

And my “Farewell” in the back of the program…

The Last Night of Ballyhoo marks the last show I will be directing at Pine Castle.

This summer, I will be relocating my family to Waco, Texas to start a three-year graduate assistantship program at Baylor University in order to receive my Masters of Fine Arts in Directing. And as the final days of this production arrive, I find I’m barely capable of processing the emotions associated with the impending goodbyes.

Five years ago, I attempted a full-length production of Anne of Green Gables with 25 middle schoolers in a room with low ceilings next to a busy railroad track. The show was a beautiful disaster, but God was feeding me spiritually, emotionally and professionally even in the midst of curtains falling and students forgetting lines.

Over the next half of a decade, I met student after student who had much more to offer me than I could ever teach them, teachers whose friendships and generosity were unwavering and a headmaster whose humility and wisdom have become a model for me as a man of God.

Because of the love that was shown to me here, I grew in my art, my patience, my understanding of others, and in my faith.

God showed up in the classroom, backstage, onstage, and in the spaces between the members of this budding theatre community.

For all these things, I thank you.

To the parents: I hope you’ve seen the power of the arts in this department. The way they bring us to a greater understanding of our world, our God and ourselves. And I hope you’ll actively advocate on behalf of the arts, not only here at PCCA, but in your churches and your communities. God made the universe with his infinite supply of cosmic clay, and in giving us the arts, He’s given us a small piece of that clay and said, “Here, you try.” Creating art is imitating God, the Creator. No further justification is needed.

To faculty and administrators of PCCA: I am ill-equipped to convey the love and loss I feel as I think of each of you. You are some of my dearest friends and I thank God PCCA has you. When you are feeling overworked and undervalued, know that I am praying for you and that you’ve invested yourself in more than just students in your time here. You are this school and that’s why it’s a great place to be.

To my students: I was thrilled to be present at your victories and my heart broke with yours in your defeats. I wish nothing more for you that you will understand how truly precious you are. Not because you are great actors or actresses but because you are glorious masterpieces of the First and Greatest artist. May you live fully, love well and lie peacefully in the knowledge of God’s adoration of you.

It’s one of my favorite productions I’ve done here. The acting was the best I’ve ever gotten out of a cast, the costumes were beautiful and authentic and the set was my best. A very satisfactory swan song.

1 comment:

Matt Oquist said...

I wish I could've been there to see the beautiful disaster you and your kids made out of Anne. I distinctly remember the conversation in which you told me you thought it was a good play, but not an example of good film-making.

We'll keep you and your family in our prayers as you move!