My Father, in a kind of wisdom a fourteen year old boy could in no way, shape or form admire, added certain chores to the Summer Vacation....
Yeah, there was mowing and raking and weeding and cleaning and all that stuff, of course, but to add to the physical exercise, there was mental exercise as well.
He assigned us books to read. I cannot recall the whole list over several years, but several of them stick out.
Travels With Charley by Steinbeck. Huckleberry Finn by Twain. And The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Doyle.
For some reason, I never got all that caught up in Steinbeck. I don't think it was the book he assigned, I think it was a high school run-in with The Grapes of Wrath which introduced a frustrating symbolism to my world, and an entire chapter of a turtle crossing a highway killed any love I might of had for Steinbeck.
Don't get me wrong: I have a great respect for Steinbeck. And I don't fill my library with him.
Well, except for The Short Reign of Pippin IV. Dad made me read that one, too.
But I glommed onto Twain and Doyle like a Tyrannosaurus on...well, anything it wants to glom onto.
And you know all of this, if you've read anything I ever put on this page.
I have read pretty much everything Twain wrote, including several versions of his Autobiography; I have the three volumes of the latest version of his Autobiography, but have not waded through it. And, I've read everything Doyle wrote about the Great Detective, as well as a lot of other things printed about Holmes and Watson written by others.
There have been precious few pastiches written on Twain's characters; I don't count the many versions of A Connecticut Yankee, and truly, the Further Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Greg Matthews was interesting and disappointing. And don't get me started with the play, The Boys of Autumn by Bernard Sabath is interesting (I would like to direct it) and depressing (do we really need to know the adult versions of Huck and Tom?)
In the previous world I lived in, I wrote an adaptation of Tom Sawyer that played for about six weeks at the Great American Melodrama in Oceano CA, early in the '00s. It's odd to consider that all those kids have kids of their own now. I thought it was a good adaptation, but they have not, and probably never will revive it.
I also played Sherlock Holmes for the first time at that same theatre, in 1999. I read of the role, and even though I was up against a guy who eventually won a Tony Award, I got the part and had a ball. It gave me a love for the character above and beyond what I had previously, and ever since, I have desired to return to the character on the stage.
So, here we are.
Back in April of this year, an old friend from my college days, Ian Wesley, sent me a one-hander about Holmes at the end of his career. It was touching, watching this fellow remember who he was, and attempt, with various levels of success, to reconcile that with who he has become.
Ian gave me the play with his blessing, to do what I wish with it. So, I decided to produce it.
So, I gathered my team together: people I have known in the circle of artists that work around town; people I trust and people that make me laugh and think. And together, we figured as long as we're in for a penny, why not go in for a pound?
So, the play, Sherlock Holmes At Twilight, by Ian Wesley and featuring John Clemo as the Great Detective, will be the first production of The TruNorth Theatre, based in Bismarck ND.
It will be performed at the High Prairie Arts and Science complex on Schafer St (just up the street from Bismarck State College) on February 21-24 at 7:30.
There will be a website and such next week, and posters and oh my GOD.
I am very excited to be walking on a stage again.
And exceptionally terrified.
Perhaps I'll see some of you there.