Singing and Dancing in the Rain


Outtakes 258

Singing and Dancing in the Rain

by Cait Collins

 

The Texas Panhandle is flat as far as the eye can see, but about 25 or 30 miles south of Amarillo, the grassy Plains drop off into Palo Duro Canyon. It’s amazing the abrupt change in the landscape.

Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon system in the United States, second only to the Grand Canyon. Much of the canyon is privately owned and not open to the public. But Palo Duro Canyon State Park is operated by the State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It’s a beautiful place to camp, hike, and enjoy nature. It is also the home of the Pioneer Amphitheatre and the musical drama T*E*X*A*S.

I don’t go every year, but I do attend a performance every few years. Last Friday evening, my nephew, his three kids, and I braved threatening weather to see the play. We were about half way to the canyon when rain drops began splashing against the windshield. The shower was brief, so we had hopes everything would be great. No such luck. It misted, sprinkled, or rained from the middle of the first act to the end of the show. We were wet and chilled, but the show was still stunning. The thunder and lightning only added to the spectacle.

I am always impressed with the talent and professionalism of the cast and crew. No matter the weather or the adversities, these gifted men, women, and children adhere to the old adage, “The show must go on”. They were as wet and cold as the members of the audience, but they smiled and thanked the theater-goers for attending.

My question is how do we as writers maintain our professionalism when faced with rejection, criticism, and lack of support? Do we write nasty blogs about the agent or editor who rejected a query? Do we toss the manuscript into the trash? Or refuse to work on another piece for months because no one understands our artistic musings?

I won’t say writing is easy or always fun, but if we choose to be writers, then shouldn’t we also choose to be professional? Do we want an agent to remember that we accepted his rejection graciously? Of course we do. But if we storm off we will be remembered but not in a positive way.

I choose to be a writer; therefore, I must also choose to act in a manner that makes a positive impression on those I meet. The bottom line is attitude and actions can make or break a career.

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Professionalism


Outtakes 209

Professionalism

by Cait Collins

 

The outdoor musical drama, TEXAS, is a seasonal event in the Texas Panhandle. The show is spectacular and is loaded with special effects and fireworks. A couple of weeks ago, the young stage manager, Peyton Trueblood, was killed in a tragic accident at the amphitheater in Palo Duro Canyon. Performances were cancelled for Friday and Saturday, but the cast and crew chose to start again on Sunday.

I was privileged to be in the audience for the second performance following the accident. The average age of cast and crew could be considered young. Many of them are students pursuing their educations at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas or at another area college or university. The actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and crew bond as a family. No doubt they were still grieving the loss of their friend, but they performed. From the opening number to the close, I did not see a missed dance step, no lines were dropped, no voices faltered. Even as they opened the second act with the beautiful song “West Texas Rain”, they remained strong, and in perfect harmony. These young men and women along with the older members of the company showed true professionalism from the appearance of the Rider on the Rim to greeting guests after the performance. I was impressed by their courage; by their dedication to their craft and to the audience. They taught a valuable lesson just by keeping on keeping on.

Sometimes I get discouraged when my writing does not go the way I think it should. I wonder if I will ever make it in the business. I make excuses for not getting out my computer and working on my current project. I am not always living up to my personal standards. I have no reason to sluff-off on my commitments. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. So I am rededicating myself to my writing. No more failing to have my blog ready to post. I will have something new to read every critique meeting. No more hiding accomplishments. I will put my name on everything I write. I am a professional writer. And the emphasis will be on “professional”.

 

Ideas With Potential


Ideas With Potential

If you’re brand new to writing, you may question the ideas that pop into your head. And believe me, those ideas will come out of no where at the worst, most inappropriate times. The moment when there’s not a pen or paper in sight, BAM, that idea will be brilliant. You won’t remember it. Ever.

Those flashes of brilliance are a gift really. I had one such idea two days ago. It was a spark of an opening for a book, a new adventure for the characters I’m writing about now. I didn’t jot it down because I happened to be driving on the freeway with two teenagers in tow, listening to (rather blocking out) their debate over Xbox 360 or Xbox One.

It was a tiny twinkle of dialogue, a scene clearly in my head, and it’s still out there somewhere waiting for me to catch it again and fan the flames.

This One Time

Why can’t I ever learn? I remember something that my oldest son said when he was four years old that I did write down.

We had taken them to Palo Duro Canyon State Park for the day. We hiked, splashed in the stream, and cooked hotdogs. As we drove the 800 feet to the rim out of the canyon my son turned around and stared longingly out of the back window. “Can we ever come back?” he asked.

From his comment I had an idea for a story about our family outing on that day, which got published a year later in a local magazine. One of the mother’s at karate class remembered that article and asked me to do a writing workshop for the local homeschool group at our library. I had a great group of 15 kids plus mothers, all ages, eager to learn and hurry home to start their writing journals. From that event, I got two more invitations to speak including the regional homeschool coop conference the next year. That class was a fun group of about 45, and it included a generous fee.

One idea. One reflection, one short story, or a finished novel can keep going and going and going, opening doors in ways you never imagined.  Next time I’m stopping the car and taking notes.

www.nataliebright.com

 

ETHICS


ETHICS

by Sharon Stevens

While reading the story about Anne Frank recently I came across mention that she and her sister died and were buried in an unmarked grave. No one knows where her spirit ceased here on this earth. Doesn’t matter to me. I can always read about where she lived and breathed and what brought her joy among the horrific pain of her life.

With so much in the news lately about Don Carthel and WTAMU I have been doing a great deal of soul searching within myself. I know without a doubt that Carthel is facing an injustice of the highest or lowest order according to how you look at it. He is a good, GOOD man as are his players. He was fired not because of his “ethical behavior” but because he represents something the college has to get rid of to hide their own “unethical” pursuits. But that’s my own opinion and I stand strong in those beliefs. And I have the right of the Freedom of speech under the Constitution to express my views. Just as Pattilou Dawkins did about Judge Ted Wood about the cost overruns of the Randall County Jail.

Tonight represents the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In researching I read where it is celebrated in 2013 from sundown September 4, to nightfall September 6. and that “Though Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year”, the holiday actually takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishre, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. This because Rosh Hashanah, one of the first new years in the Jewish year is considered the new year of the people, animals, and legal contracts. In the Jewish oral tradition, Rosh Hashanah makes the completion of the creation of the world…The Mishneh refers to Rosh Hashanah as the “Day of Judgment” and it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day and begins to decide who shall live and who shall die.”

Our son-in-law, William Keller is Jewish and he has been so wonderful to share his heritage with our family. And as a chef  we are doubly blessed. I will always remember when he made the sweet bread with honey for us as he told the story behind its meaning. What a true treasure!

As writers we always have to struggle with ethics whether we know it or not. When our stories are written we worry about what will it really convey, who will it inspire, who will it harm? What do we really mean when we write the words and will it come across that way or will it fall flat on its face. Or will it be debated in a court of law if we crossed the line we truly never meant to cross. So many doubts.

When we were out riding with friends of ours Hamblen Drive through Palo Duro Canyon we stopped at the overlook and sat under the awning over the picnic table. I glanced beside me and someone had written in black magic marker in huge letters the word “UNCONDITIONAL”.

This was a message to me that everything I write and everything I do needs to be unconditional. Inside my heart I know I have an ethical compass and that I would never cross the line intentionally. My heart is always burdened with who I will hurt if they take what I say and do the wrong way. I need to spend the rest of my life unconditional, not worrying so much or hiding in the shadows. If something is wrong or unjust I need to follow it through, without question.

Likewise if something is tremendous I need to shout it from the rooftops no matter who is listening.

I came across a book written by Elie Wiesel in 1970. “A Beggar in Jerusalem”. I have never read a more powerful but beautiful book in my life.

“The tale the beggar tells must be told from the beginning. But the beginning has its own tale. Its own secret. That’s how it is, and that’s how it has always been. there is nothing man can do about it. Death itself has no power over the beginning. The beggar who tells you this knows what he is talking about….Meanwhile don’t be afraid to come closer. the beggar will do you no harm, he will cast no spell over you. Do come nearer. Do his eyes disturb you? They are not his, and he doesn’t know it. His lips? They move-yes-as though repeating tales heard or lived a day before, a century before: he no longer remembers. for him, you see, time has no meaning.”

THIS is my celebration of the New Year and how I can celebrate the heritage of ancient traditions. I can do no less. As for Anne Frank, even though she lives in an unmarked grave with her number branded on her arm, I am sure that with “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” the ink is no longer visible, long gone from her body and that of her sister. Now as far as Hitler or his SS, HE will carry HIS stain through eternity. It will never fade. His ethics are burned in HIS soul. Look what good it did for him.

Oh, and my favorite quote about ethics…”Emphasizes the needs of a larger community. What is good for the community is good for the individual by being good for the community.”

Writing Exercise


Writing Exercise

Rory C. Keel

Our Wordsmith Critique group participated in a writing exercise in which we wrote a letter to a student. In the letter we selected a word and wrote about all aspects of that word and our surrounding community.

When you’re stuck in your writing, use this type of exercise to move your writing along.

 

Balloon

1. An airtight bag that rises and floats above the earth when filled with hot air or gas lighter than air, such as hydrogen or helium.

2. A bag of this sort with an attached car or gondola for carrying passengers or instruments.

3. A small rubber bag inflated for use chiefly as a toy or decoration.

4.  The outline enclosing the words or thoughts of a character in a cartoon, as in a comic strip.

WEBSTER’ NEW WORLD COLLEGE DICTIONARY, Fourth Edition, Page 110

Dear Brian,

Balloons are the most amazing things. They are made from many different materials such as nylon and rubber. They can be any color of the rainbow like blue, red, yellow and green. Some balloons are even Silver or Black.

When I watch a balloon rise into the air, it lifts the corners of my mouth creating a smile without even being tied to it.

A balloon can fly like a rocket when you let it go untied, zigzagging around the room before running out of air.  Clowns use them at parties to make balloon animals like a giraffe or a wiener dog.

Have you ever used them to play games with your friends? When I was a child, my brothers and I would play with them like volleyballs, hitting them to each other across the room. We would also see who could pop the most by sitting on them one at a time. At the carnival people throw darts at them winning the prizes that are hidden behind them.

One of my favorite things to do is watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on T.V. and see the giant balloons of Mickey Mouse and some of my other favorite heroes. Wow, It takes a lot of people to hold the ropes so they don’t fly away!

Science also uses balloons. A weather balloon is a balloon that carries an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity. It can obtain wind data by being tracked by radar as it floats along the air stream. These balloons can reach an altitude of 25 miles or more.

Ocean scientists use balloons to lift heavy objects from the ocean floor such as sunken ships. Balloons are attached to the object and inflated with air, which brings it to the surface of the water.

In medical science balloons are used to open arteries to help blood flow easier. An instrument is inserted near a blocked artery and a balloon is inflated, expanding the artery to allow more blood to flow to the heart.

Balloons are sometimes used for transportation. In early years giant balloons that were driven by propellers were called Dirigibles or Zeppelin’s. They carried passengers from place to place. The military used them in early wars to carry equipment and as look out posts. Today we call them blimps, such as the Goodyear blimp we sometimes see at football games.

Hot air balloons are very popular today. A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is the gondola or wicker basket that carries the passengers and a source of heat, usually an open flame. The heated air inside the envelope makes it float since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope.

Recently, A hot air balloon event was held near my community of Canyon, Texas, in the Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States.

The hot air balloons were filled at the bottom and lifted out of the 800 ft deep chasm and high into the sky.

The rim of the Palo Duro Canyon in located about 12 miles from my community, the city of Canyon, Texas. It has a population of about 13,000 people, and is the county seat of Randall County. It is located south of the city of Amarillo, Texas, in the Texas Panhandle. The city of Canyon has an average of 19 inches of rainfall annually and ranges in temperature from 74 degrees for the high to 44 degrees for an average low, and an average of 9 inches of Snow each year.

With a University like West Texas A&M University, and many things to see and do such as the play TEXAS in the Palo Duro Canyon, Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, Canyon Texas is a wonderful community to live in.

roryckeel.com

MIRACLES


MIRACLES

By Sharon Stevens

As I am writing this tomorrow will celebrate the 4th of July. Amazing that it comes around every year at the same time of the month, year after year. Each cycle falls on a different day, but the meaning is the same regardless whether it occurs during a week day or weekend. Red, white and blue are the same colors through centuries and generations. Uncle Sam never ages.

I read General Colin Powell’s Fourth of July wish, and was caught by something he wrote. “Wishing you all a safe and happy 4th of July as we once again celebrate the MIRACLE of our democracy, and the WISDOM of our founding fathers.

Miracle…Wisdom…Two words that you wouldn’t associate with fireworks and festivities. But then again these expressions are the perfect reminder of why we celebrate our American Flag and our Freedom. I was rereading the Bill of Rights and Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and by jove, these are miracles. When you think of what it took for a group of men to come together for the Common Good, and then to write the first draft, and the second, and the third until they got it right, you can appreciate what a miracle this truly is. These people left the comforts of their home and the love of their families to travel, and then to argue together to find the wisdom shared together. This must have been monumental even for them. I can’t imagine the fireworks of these spirited souls.

Tomorrow I will watch the parade from the vantage point of our local business, the Buffalo Bookstore, surrounded by friends, neighbors, family, tourists, visitors, WTAMU students, and everyone in the community. There is no doubt in my mind that I will cherish the MIRACLE that is my Freedom, and treasure the memory of the WISDOM of the founding fathers.

As a writer, AND as a citizen, they are NEVER just words to me.

I can’t leave this blog post without celebrating the life of Margaret and Ples Harper, and Margaret and William Moore, the founders of the musical drama TEXAS. Both of these families were veterans of World War II and professors at WTSU, now WTAMU. Margaret Harper read an article about Paul Green in the July 1960 edition of Reader’s Digest. She invited the Moore’s over for supper and they discussed if it would be possible to do an outdoor drama in Palo Duro Canyon. They decided to write to Green and ask him to come to see what he could do. The date of the original letter was July 3rd 1960. I can only imagine the pageantry that they were anticipating as Canyon prepared for the next day festivities. They must have agonized over their correspondence until the mail went out after the fourth. I wonder what date Paul Green received this simple note at his mailbox, and if he knew where Canyon Texas was?

Truly a MIRACLE any way you look at it!

Happy July 4th everyone. Celebrate family and community, please be safe!

BARE BONES


BARE BONES

by Sharon Stevens

 

I inherited so many cases of books this past week. A friend with a passion for history and heritage was moving and needed to unload instead of transporting to the new home. We packed them up into boxes and I took them to our Buffalo Bookstore until I could sort them out. The actual number of tomes doesn’t matter. My husband says there are too many, and I think there is never enough. But he didn’t see all the treasures I put in the box.

One of the books in the mix was Don Taylor & Jeanne Smalling Archer’s book, “Up Against The Wal-Marts.” This wonderful book was written by a man who was strong in the Canyon Economic Development Corporation in Canyon Texas, and works toward helping small businesses compete with the mega-giants by simple and basic means. I found an interesting quote in the chapter on survival strategies… “Remember that when you misspend one dollar you really wasted two-the dollar you misspent and the dollar you could have spent well.”

Another gem I found was the 75th Commemorative Edition Special Anniversary Issue of the July 1997 New Mexico magazine. One of the stories was written by Sheila Tryk with photography by Ralph Looney. “O’Keeffe’s World” celebrated thoughts of O’Keeffe with interviews and insight into her life. The story briefly mentioned when she taught in Amarillo, but didn’t mention her time at the college, which is now WTAMU or where she found her passion in Palo Duro Canyon. I found it interesting that later on after she married that she left her husband in New York for months at a time while she pursued her passion at Ghost Ranch.

Each year, when O’Keefe went back into her husband’s orbit, she took mementos of the West. Stones, weathered and worn smooth. Artificial flowers, (“They were popular then, and there were some very lovely ones being sold in the country stores here.”) And desert bleached bones. “To me they are as beautiful as anything I know,” she once wrote. “To me they are strangely more living than the animals walking around—-hair, eyes, and all, with their tails twitching. The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the the desert even tho’ it is vast and empty and untouchable—and knows no kindness with all its beauty….I took back a barrel of bones,” she says now, her eyes amused at the recollection. “I remember it cost me 16 dollars by freight.” One wonders at her husband’s reaction to this delivery.”

O’Keefe was able to find her passion within bleached bones. Anyone who has ever seen her paintings of skulls knows what she sees within. Just like my boxes of books, I can find treasures among the words. Whether its a quote, passage, or sentence…all pull me to a story or memory, a sweet reminder of what touches my heart day in and day out. I take nothing for granted, and never overlook a single moment.

I truly believe that to me if I leave a stone unturned, that it represents a misspent dollar that I could have spent well. As a writer, just like O’Keefe as an artist, I can take an object and use my imagination and creativity to weave it into a story with tangible ties.

Even though O’Keefe used bare bones and stones to express her soul, I just happen to cherish anything I find in a box of books.

TEXAS


TEXAS

by Sharon Stevens

While going through used paperbacks at our bookstore I came across a copy of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with a bookmark I had tucked between one of the pages long ago. My memories instantly took me back. I remembered watching this version, the production by Franco Zeffirelli’s, at the movies on my fifteen birthday. Something stirred in my tender soul that night and it wasn’t just the scene where a naked Leonard Whiting (Romeo) rises from Juliet’s bed and greets the morning sunlight. I was overwhelmed not only with the words of Shakespeare, but the poetry, the settings, the costumes, and the way the dawn filtered through the sheer curtains of the bedchamber. All of it connecting me from that day to this moment, celebrating cinema and live theatre through the centuries. The story is timeless of two families struggling, torn with their beliefs ripping each other apart while destroying the very heart of the youth until all come together in grief.

The notes in this Scholastic book mentioned that Shakespeare borrowed the plot and characters from a long poem by Arthur Brooke called, “The Tragical Historye of Romeus and Juliet, but the ancient story came from an Italian tale very much older than that.

Jennifer Yirak Ryen directed “Romeo and Juliet” this past year at Shakespeare in the Park at Palo Duro Canyon. I can’t tell you what this meant for me to hear “A curse on both your houses” echo against the canyon walls, and to see the lights glint off the swords as they battled each other to the death. I think this is truly what Shakespeare envisioned as he read the “historye” and set his images to resound through the centuries. He wrote this play to be performed on a bare stage with minimal distractions from the periphery of our vision. In Palo Duro Canyon Jennifer did just that as Paul Green did over fifty years ago with TEXAS and Dave Yirak continues to this day. The play is the thing and the world is our stage.

Shakespeare never wasted a tragedy and as writers neither do we. We collect every thought, every scent, every memory, every pain, and every joy in between. We don’t celebrate misfortune, but we do rejoice in the friends and families that stood beside us as we struggle…those who brought us to the brink as well as those who held us back.

We can never know what someone may glean from something we had written. An image may come to mind that we weren’t anticipating, tugging at our hearts or gnawing at our soul. So many times I burst with excitement over a phrase and burst into tears with the next one. Who are we to judge what stirs a soul or drains a heart?

We can only write and hope that someday our writings will touch either a passion or a nerve and ignite a flame.

The musical drama TEXAS begins their season on June 2, 2012. Much has changed from year to year, but the passions remain the same. Dave Yirak, the artistic director, will again be guiding the cast and crew to perform for millions from around the world. Paul Green’s message as a writer of man against man, man against nature and man against himself has never gotten lost amid the controversies trying to divide the very foundation of our heritage. Even though the names of the actors, hospitality, front of the house and those behind the scenes may be different, Shakespeare will be front and center with the best seats in the house.

Sometime in the past I had tucked a quote in between the pages of “Romeo and Juliet” to hold my place. Where ever that place was I have forgotten long ago.  I wondered why in the world I had marked that certain spot. What did I notice, what caught my eye, what was in my heart? The quote was from “The Lost Colony”, a symphonic drama and the accompanying article written in the July 1960 Reader’s Digest by Alan Rankin about Paul Green.  Margaret Harper was moved by the words and she and her husband Ples visited with Margaret and William Moore about asking Green to come to Palo Duro Canyon to see if he would write a play to be performed with the spirit of our heritage.

Green asked for a packet of material to be sent to him so he could get a feel of the legacy that surrounds us. The Panhandle Plains Historical Museum gathered material from all his sources and sent it on. The museum will be holding their, “Night At The Museum” on June 1 & 2nd from 9:00-10:30pm. All the lights are turned down and everyone brings a flashlight to explore the museum in all its glory.

I treasure TEXAS and all it stands for. I marvel at the majesty of Palo Duro Canyon. I rejoice in the men, women and children that encompass the cast and crew past and future. I know that each time I walk the grounds leading to the entrance to the amphitheater, as God and John Wayne are my witness I know without a doubt that there will be something that will touch my soul and bring back a memory.

Maybe I will use it in a story or maybe I will store it in my heart, and come across it sometime in the future when I open the page of a book and turn to the placed I marked so long ago.

I truly think Shakespeare will be proud.

Sharon Stevens

DISCOVER THE PROMISE


DISCOVER THE PROMISE

by Sharon Stevens

I don’t know what I feel each time I watch the viral video of Karen Klein being bullied on the school bus. There are no words. None! Of course there is disgust and there is anger, and there is dismay, and there is outrage, and there are tears, so many, many tears.

It was so hard to distance myself from the words of horror I had witnessed so I approached it from a different angle. I decided to Google Greece Town New York, the city where the incident occurred. It seemed like such a pleasant place filled with a cross section of humanity. Who knew the town with the motto of “discover the promise” would harbor families that raised such ugliness. Sort of like our own Tulia Texas who faced a tragedy of its own a few years ago.

Still there were no words.

I can only imagine the pain Karen went through listening as they taunted her. What gave her the grace to not lash out at the kids? How many times did she face this in the past? What words did she carry in her heart and soul that brought her peace with each mile she rode?

No one knows, no one can fathom…ever, forever!

And then there is Sandusky!

Everyone needs inspiration! We face unspeakable horrors, pain, and tragedies, but also tremendous joys and celebrations. No matter the media we still need to discover the words that keep us whole and sane and center our soul.

Those of us who love to write try to find words in everything that crosses our path. When I put pen to paper or fingers to computer I want to set down all thoughts and every feeling. It is important for me to make sure each and every person understands what I am trying to say whether they want to or not. I know I need to focus, and tighten. There is no question I have a problem, but I need this. I live for this. I cherish this. In all the terrible destruction in the world with writing I can find a solace in my soul.

And I think this is why attending writing conferences like Frontiers in Writing matter so much to me. As I sit in a room with others I soak up inspiration from not only the speaker, but each person in the room. The questions they ask and even the way they frame their queries gives me a glimmer of hope. At the very least I find a quote phrased in-between the ideas. I can study the characters around me at the same time. Names, plots, settings, emotions, all find their way into my psyche and my notes.

But you don’t always need to share just with written words. Take for example Delbert Trew’s column in the Amarillo Globe News about his family’s mercantile store. When I read the article I knew the words would be perfect for Biffle and Cross Mercantile for the opening of the new Pioneer Town at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I made copies and carried them over and placed them in the store. On the way back to the Buffalo Bookstore I just had to stop under the shadow of the American and Texas Flag at the entrance to the museum and take pictures of the flowers planted there. Sunflowers are always special as they bring up memories of my daughter. Her words are that you always have to smile whenever you see sunflowers. There are no bad memories associated when you share the beauty of these bright, yellow treasures.

This weekend hosts many different events in our area. The Frontiers in Writing Conference will be held at Amarillo College and sponsored by Panhandle Professional Writers hosted with PPW president Matt Sherley, and chaired by Natalie Bright with guest speakers of Candace Havens, Jodi Thomas, John Erickson, Jeff Campbell, Hilary Sares, Craig and Nancy Keel, Chris Stewart, Mary Lou Cheatham, Joe Trent, and so many others. Jim Gleason at Barnes and Nobles also will give a presentation about publishing.

And the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum will be hosting the grand opening of Pioneer Town-a long awaited celebration. WTAMU will be sharing along with the English Department, The Legacy with selected readings and open mic at the Palace Coffee House on the courthouse square in Canyon Texas.  The musical drama TEXAS continues in Palo Duro Canyon, and Canyon is gearing up for July 4th.

How can anyone choose?

I urge everyone to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities in our community. We have so much facing us in the future and need to take these moments to heart. Don’t miss a single moment to celebrate the rich legacy and heritage that surrounds us. As a writer, Frontiers in Writing meets every need for those who love to write and share.

Just as in the case of Karen Klein, it will help us to find the write words.

Sharon Stevens

TEXAS


TEXAS

by Sharon Stevens

While going through used paperbacks at our bookstore I came across a copy of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with a bookmark I had tucked between one of the pages long ago. My memories instantly took me back. I remembered watching this version, the production by Franco Zeffirelli’s, at the movies on my fifteen birthday. Something stirred in my tender soul that night and it wasn’t just the scene where a naked Leonard Whiting (Romeo) rises from Juliet’s bed and greets the morning sunlight. I was overwhelmed not only with the words of Shakespeare, but the poetry, the settings, the costumes, and the way the dawn filtered through the sheer curtains of the bedchamber. All of it connecting me from that day to this moment, celebrating cinema and live theatre through the centuries. The story is timeless of two families struggling, torn with their beliefs ripping each other apart while destroying the very heart of the youth until all come together in grief.

The notes in this Scholastic book mentioned that Shakespeare borrowed the plot and characters from a long poem by Arthur Brooke called, “The Tragical Historye of Romeus and Juliet, but the ancient story came from an Italian tale very much older than that.

Jennifer Yirak Ryen directed “Romeo and Juliet” this past year at Shakespeare in the Park at Palo Duro Canyon. I can’t tell you what this meant for me to hear “A curse on both your houses” echo against the canyon walls, and to see the lights glint off the swords as they battled each other to the death. I think this is truly what Shakespeare envisioned as he read the “historye” and set his images to resound through the centuries. He wrote this play to be performed on a bare stage with minimal distractions from the periphery of our vision. In Palo Duro Canyon Jennifer did just that as Paul Green did over fifty years ago with TEXAS and Dave Yirak continues to this day. The play is the thing and the world is our stage.

Shakespeare never wasted a tragedy and as writers neither do we. We collect every thought, every scent, every memory, every pain, and every joy in between. We don’t celebrate misfortune, but we do rejoice in the friends and families that stood beside us as we struggle…those who brought us to the brink as well as those who held us back.

We can never know what someone may glean from something we had written. An image may come to mind that we weren’t anticipating, tugging at our hearts or gnawing at our soul. So many times I burst with excitement over a phrase and burst into tears with the next one. Who are we to judge what stirs a soul or drains a heart?

We can only write and hope that someday our writings will touch either a passion or a nerve and ignite a flame.

The musical drama TEXAS begins their season on June 2, 2012. Much has changed from year to year, but the passions remain the same. Dave Yirak, the artistic director, will again be guiding the cast and crew to perform for millions from around the world. Paul Green’s message as a writer of man against man, man against nature and man against himself has never gotten lost amid the controversies trying to divide the very foundation of our heritage. Even though the names of the actors, hospitality, front of the house and those behind the scenes may be different, Shakespeare will be front and center with the best seats in the house.

Sometime in the past I had tucked a quote in between the pages of “Romeo and Juliet” to hold my place. Where ever that place was I have forgotten long ago.  I wondered why in the world I had marked that certain spot. What did I notice, what caught my eye, what was in my heart? The quote was from “The Lost Colony”, a symphonic drama and the accompanying article written in the July 1960 Reader’s Digest by Alan Rankin about Paul Green.  Margaret Harper was moved by the words and she and her husband Ples visited with Margaret and William Moore about asking Green to come to Palo Duro Canyon to see if he would write a play to be performed with the spirit of our heritage.

Green asked for a packet of material to be sent to him so he could get a feel of the legacy that surrounds us. The Panhandle Plains Historical Museum gathered material from all his sources and sent it on. The museum will be holding their, “Night At The Museum” on June 1 & 2nd from 9:00-10:30pm. All the lights are turned down and everyone brings a flashlight to explore the museum in all its glory.

I treasure TEXAS and all it stands for. I marvel at the majesty of Palo Duro Canyon. I rejoice in the men, women and children that encompass the cast and crew past and future. I know that each time I walk the grounds leading to the entrance to the amphitheater, as God and John Wayne are my witness I know without a doubt that there will be something that will touch my soul and bring back a memory.

Maybe I will use it in a story or maybe I will store it in my heart, and come across it sometime in the future when I open the page of a book and turn to the placed I marked so long ago.

I truly think Shakespeare will be proud.

Sharon Stevens