Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dothan Botanical Gardens..................................... Dear Friends, The time is soon coming for me to leave The Wiregrass and travel to the west. My visit here has been very pleasant, if chaotic, but I thrive where mysteries abound and can make decent sense of even the slightest clue. My hosts, however, allowed me a respite this glorious Sunday, and we celebrated thusly: Earth Day 2012 - Consider the Lilies of the Field - Dothan Botanical Gardens The Volunteer Garden "The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:12
> Along The Path "Jesus answered...but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14
Recycled Art "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it..." Psalm 24:1 In The Wetlands "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Affair of the Pilfered Pastry - Conclusion

A tiny doll, whose under-drawers could conceivably be created from a bit of cloth hardly larger than a postage stamp, is clearly no match for the volumes of scenic drapery that now enfolded me. "Blast!", I thought, "That miscreant will steal away and with her the pastry for the party scene!" I knew just how much the actors enjoyed playing that scene. "Do not eat while in costume" was a hard and fast rule with The Stage Manager. Act I; Scene 11 afforded the cast the only opportunity for nourishment in two hours and thirty-five minutes.

The curtains muffled the sounds from the wings and stage. I could not discern what direction the thief had taken, or if indeed, she was not still there, waiting to do me further injury. I struggled free of the curtains at last and flung myself onto the stage floor, ready for any comers. And there she stood, her back to me, a petite nun, hungrily devouring the the last of the ladyfingers.

"Unhand those ladyfingers!", I demanded. She spun about, guilt written all over her child-like countenance. "Miss V!", I exclaimed, "You? I had not expected this of you!"

Between sobs, Miss V. related her sorrowful tale. "As an actress, I tried to develop the virtues of poverty and obedience expected of a Sister. I wished to be a credit to the production. Night after night, however, the tantalizing aroma of buttery pastries tempted me beyond what I was able to bear...I succumbed to that temptation. Forgive me."

I ask you, Dear Reader, can we not forgive this bit of pastry pilfering?

'Course we can - piece o' cake!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Affair of the Pilfered Pastry - Part 2

In the following report, the names of the suspects are given according to the role they portray, in order to protect the (mostly) innocent.
The investigation began close to the scene of the crime on the stage right prop table. Franz, Captain Von Trapp’s butler, was well-known for his backstage pranks, but a quick glance at his personal props, a silver tray and elegant snifter, revealed nothing - nary a crumb; nary a drop. This time the actor could proclaim his complete innocence.

Perhaps Liesl’s love interest, Rolf, the youth swayed by Nazi propaganda, was responsible?

He seemed such a pleasant young man, well-thought of by his fellow actors and with a considerable talent. Could he have become consumed by his character – a victim of method acting? Rolf was prompt for the interview, professed his innocence and assured me of his complete cooperation. Had he seen anything out of the ordinary, I queried? “No” was the reply, “Nothing more than rather more nuns, novices and postulants backstage than usual. It’s hard to keep track of all that black and white femininity.”

While I conducted the investigation behind the scenes, Hedydd continued her rehearsal. Her voice didn’t sound quite as clear as it had initially. I pondered the likely cause. Dust from falling from the teasers**? An un-brushed habit? Something perhaps ingested?

I cornered the Stage Hands at The Stage Manager’s station. Usually fine, hard-working characters, Stage Hands do, at times, despair of actors’ histrionics and, occasionally, perpetrate, quite unprofessionally and certainly without sanction of The Stage Manager, a small revenge.

I could not believe it of these two, but I was compelled to interview all likely suspects dispassionately and without prejudice. Under the glare of the blue light, I interrogated them both. My inquiries revealed nothing. They both had been about the business of creating the magic in which the audience would marvel. “However”, remarked the Crew Chief, “I did observe a very diminutive nun behaving in quite an odd fashion”. “Yes”, recalled the other, “She seemed to be secreting something under her scapular***”.

Hedydd had ceased her warbling, and I assumed she has quit the stage and retreated to her dressing room. At the same moment, the Stage Hands pointed up-stage left, and I hurried behind the Abbey drop, suddenly knowing full well whom I would find there and what she had been about. I fully intended to take this puffed-up dolly down a peg or two. The noise of my wooden footsteps echoed across the stage and must have alerted the perpetrator. I heard the swish of long skirts and saw the swirl of black curtains. Dark velvet enveloped me. I spun inside the depths of the tormentors, barely clinging to consciousness.

To be continued....

** Teasers are the horizontal masking curtains.
***A Scapular is part of a nun’s habit, sleeveless outer garment that hangs from the shoulders.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Affair of the Pilfered Pastry-Part 1

Dear Enthusiasts of Crime Fiction,

I have arrived safely in the Wiregrass, a region of the Deep South
encompassing small corners of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. After
over-nighting in the local Post Office Hostel, I made my way to the
Enterprise High School Performing Arts Center, whereupon I found myself
with immediate employment in solving a small mystery which I have set
down in my case book as "The Affair of the Pilfered Pastry".

As soon as my SOC photographer emerges from the darkroom, pictures will
be posted.


Hitty Agatha

The word "actor" is derived from the Greek, "hypokrites", from which, as you can no doubt see, we English speakers receive our term for a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion: hypocrite. Armed with that knowledge, I was escorted by Hitty Hedydd and The Stage Manager to the beautiful Performing Arts Center at the newly built Enterprise High School.

(Many of you may recall the destruction of the old high school and, sadly, the loss of eight young lives by a vicious tornado in 2007. The Hitty community throughout the United States rallied behind the Wiregrass Hitties to raise 1200 dollars for UMCOR.

Hedydd disappeared into the long hall of dressing rooms to prepare for her role in “The Sound of Music”. I found myself installed on the property table backstage and given the task of organizing the props. The Stage Manager was quite firm. "Unless it is their personal prop, Agatha, no one should touch the props, play with them, or otherwise even consider them. Above all, NO ONE must eat them", she said, pointing to a silver tray piled with delicate ladyfingers. "Actors are notorious for their appetites and, beyond their craft, have very little discipline - be vigilant".
Hedydd emerged from the dressing room, swept across the stage to examine the conductor’s score and make a few minor adjustments for her solo.

The assumption of a costume had somewhat altered Hedydd’s usual sunny disposition. I watched her from the darkened wings. Other cast and crew were now arriving in the theatre as the time for “curtain up” drew closer. The stage hands busied themselves with the rigging and the drops; actors dashed about in various states of undress and make-up.
Hedydd called up to the booth and demanded lights before she began her warm-ups. “Mi-Me-Ma-Mo-Mu, Mi-Me-Ma-Mo Mu”, she sang and, taking breath for a moment said, “and where is my vocal coach? Agatha”, she practically hissed, “Be a dear, and fetch her”. I abandoned my post, hurried to find Hedydd’s coach and conveyed her to the stage where Hedydd stood fuming under the hot lights.

Turning to the dark of the wings, it took my eyes a moment to adjust after the brilliance of being under the lights. It did seem like something was causing more of a reflection than there ought to be. The tormentors* billowed as doors opened and closed in the house. The flash seemed to be coming from the property table. Something was catching the beams of light filtering in as the curtains moved. Alas, I perceived at once what it was. In my haste to do Hedydd’s bidding, I had left the ladyfingers unattended! They were all gone, saving a few crumbs.

* Tormentors are side curtains used for masking the backstage.