Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thoughts on Camille

Creating The Bluest Water: A Hurricane Camille Story has been an incredible journey for the last two years. Jason Chimonides and myself have been working on this project since November of 2006. During Jason's first visit to the area (one of four) we traveled around Nelson County and collected stories.

The images in this posting were provide by HAM Radio enthusiast George Rose. He and Larry Stanecker were a tremendous help to us in collecting images and in garnering a series of HAM Radio recordings that were recorded during the Nelson County Camille recovery period in August of 1969. The images are of Base Camp (used for storm recovery), washed out bridges, Route 29 outside of Lovingston, and memorials from the storm.

Jason most recently took part in work shop reading of the play this past December. This was in preparation for our January fundraising dinner. Before this though, he took part in a fellowship at the Virginia Center for The Creative Arts in April of 2007.

During Jason's time at the VCCA we worked on creating a list of fictional character that we would be interested in exploring through the play. These characters were inspired by stories and images that we had collected during Jason's visits to the area. From this we mapped out a rough plot structure that could serve as a vehicle for these characters. From this plot structure Jason began his work in penning the dialogue and in refining the story.

We have faced some interesting challenges with this play. As you will note the play is called A Hurricane Camille Story and not The Hurricane Camille Story. We actually think that creating The Hurricane Camille play is quite impossible. This event was so massive and had so much impact on so many people that we could not even begin to consider encapsulating this entire event into one play. One of our board members, local attorney Steve Martin mentioned that we might have to create an entire series of plays in order to even begin to capture the scope of this event and I couldn't agree more.

We have instead created one play. In creating this one play we have attempted to use the story of Hurricane Camille's effect on Nelson County as a spring board for an examination of the question, "What do we do in the face of tragedy?" This is a question that can be asked in the face of war, in the face of terrorist acts, in the face of school shootings, and in the face of other horrific natural disasters. This play takes this very specific event, in this very specific area and looks at questions that could be applied to many tragedies that humans have faced through out our existence. How do we move forward? How do we continue on when it feels too overwhelming to do so? How do we mourn?

Jason's play examines these questions while looking at the people of our local area, a very special and unique people. The play is specifically Central Virginia but also reaches beyond our area and touches on these questions that can be understood by anyone from anywhere. In doing so we have A Hurricane Camille play. A story that follows a middle aged married couple from Lynchburg and Nelson County fighting to find a "place to mourn" and a means to heal from horrible tragedy.

A week from Saturday we will begin some initial rehearsals. This will be the beginning of a major editing process. The "new play" process is so exciting because the script is malleable. We will take our creative process in to the rehearsal hall and with a group of actors we will continue the play's growth and progression. This collaborative process will lead us to what we hope will be a stimulating evening at the theatre.

Geoffrey Kershner
Endstation Theatre Company
Artistic Director

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