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Before the Parade Passes By…

And happy hump day in another exhausting and confusing week in the life of That’s So Jacob. It’s December, and I do not know how that happened. I suspect it had something to do with November ending. Details forthcoming.

But it’s now been two and a half weeks since I saw Parade at The Temple in Atlanta, and I thought I should write down some thoughts on it before I completely forget about it.

Parade is a quandary of a musical. It’s the story of Leo Frank, of the National Pencil Company Incident that sparked the revival of the Ku Klux Klan and the birth of the Anti-Defamation League, but it’s also the story of his wife, Lucille; the other suspect in the case, Jim Conley; and the girl whose death started it all, Mary Phagan. Just as the case is still a mystery – even though it is almost certain that Frank had nothing to do with Phagan’s death, and that Conley probably had more to do with it than previously thought – the musical does not seek to give the audience any definitive answers. In a sense, everyone is innocent, whether a victim of racial discrimination, religious discrimination, thuggery, or the law, and everyone is guilty, whether by murder, association, or merely obstructing justice.

This performance was done concert-style in the sanctuary. I sat in the second row and watched as the story unfolded in front of me. The actors carried prompt books some of the time, but they maneuvered music stands and used props to their advantage, and at times it almost seemed apropos to have the entire cast seated in chairs behind the action; there were so many witnesses, but at the same time, so few, due to the palpable silence in coming forward to defend Leo Frank.

The voices were the highlight, of course. My friend Avery performed excellently as Lucille, hitting some beautiful notes, along with the portrayers of Leo Frank and of Jim Conley, who had a particularly jazzy side to his voice that almost made the audience sympathetic to his struggle. The chorus worked together well in layering in sound; something especially difficult in a space that did not lend itself to a traditional theatrical production. They sounded downright liturgical at points, especially in the powerful moments leading into the final song, which was sung a cappella for several measures.

One point of curiosity which did not go unnoticed by myself or the cast was the usage of the Confederate flag. Avery told me that the cast, whose racial makeup ranged from white to African American to Asian American, all had different reactions to the object; seeing it, feeling it, giving it significance. I, however, feel that the usage of the Confederate flag in Parade, especially in the production’s “stripped-down” format, allowed the performers to exert control over a symbol which, in the past, has been used to control thousands of people, and for a time, an independent nation. The flag was not only used as a flag, but also as a picnic blanket, a shroud, a bed spread, and a dust rag, among many things. This allowed the audience to focus more on the object’s usage over its substance and meaning. Taking away the meaning of a symbol also strips it of its power, and when seen used to clean a floor, cover a corpse, or for the purposes of sitting and eating, it transforms the object to one of utility that happens to show a symbol rather than a beacon of hatred. The pride of the people of the South to work hard and transform themselves was evinced in this way.

The talk-back afterwards was similarly illuminating. Many cast members offered their own personal thoughts, especially in connection with their characters. Overall, it was a very spiritual experience, and a performance for which I am glad to have flown halfway across the country to see.

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Georgia on My Mind

Morning morning morning from Atlanta, Georgia. I’m sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight in about 20 minutes or so, but I wanted to get in another post from the Peach State.

I woke up at 6 this morning to order my uber from Kennesaw to the airport. Avery and Janna were pretty much dead asleep in the living room, so I snuck out quietly. I did whisper a quick goodbye to Avery and heard a “bye” back, although it could have been Janna or the cat or a ghost or imagination. Anyway, I allowed myself 2 hours to get to the airport, and fortunately it took only 45 minutes, and getting through security took only about 25 minutes, so I was in the terminal before 8:00 for my 10:30 am flight. And after a delicious breakfast I’m at the gate. 

Yesterday was probably one of the most fun and uplifting experiences I’ve ever had. We got up at 10 am to catch a ride with Becca to the Temple in Atlanta for their final rehearsal. The Temple was built in 1867 and is the oldest synagogue in Georgia. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and the actual shooting location for Driving Miss Daisy. It was most definitely filled with the spirits of congregants past, including Leo and Lucille Frank, whose wedding photo is featured on the wall. I watched the first hour or two of rehearsal, then took a walk, came back, and sat in the dressing room finishing a paper until showtime. I sat with Avery’s friend Jennifer for the incredible 2 hour concert performance in the front row of a packed house. The performance deserves its own post so I’ll skip it for now. Afterwards, there was a talkback with the cast and director. One of the audience members revealed that she was friends with Lucille Frank as well as acquainted with Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, you know just like you do.

After the show we went back to the house with Avery’s friends Avery (yes, another Avery but a male Avery), Becca, and Janna to change and to Kroger to buy some drinks to take to the cast party.

The cast party was at the apartment of some of the cast members. It was fun to drink a little and pretend to be an undergrad for a little while with the cast. Everyone was so nice. The night ended with a little craziness, but we all got home safely at around 12:30 am, and I stayed up talking and jamming with Avery, Avery, and Janna for another two hours.

Here’s hoping I get back to Madison with enough time to get ready for class. It really was a perfect weekend getaway, and I hope to return in the spring. I am still in disbelief that I managed to pull it off almost flawlessly and enjoy the last bit of 60 degree weather I’ll experience until May. Avery and her friends are such warm and welcoming people, showing me true southern hospitality.

See y’all sooner rather than later. 

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My Door, Nice Neighbors, and More

So, today was rather uneventful. Well, not so much for the Supreme Court and all those involved in the appeal, but for me, anyway.

I did get woken up this morning with the lovely sound of my door being replaced with a new one. It was highly unpleasant to listen to, but it got me up, out of bed, dressed, and actually doing the readings for today while cleaning the kitchen. But now I have a new door. There is no number on it yet, so I guess I live in a numberless apartment for now.

I also decided to laundry between classes. Stupidly, I started it a little too late to follow through completely, and by the time I was putting it in the dryer, this girl Molly from down the hall was putting her wash in. I needed to go to class, so I left my hamper there, and told here that if/when she needed the dryer, she could leave my stuff in this blue hamper. And when I got back from class, my clothes were actually sitting in the hamper rather than on the floor! What a nice surprise.

Normally my life is pretty rosy (or at least I portray it to be), but at the moment I’m in a rough patch. I’m not sure why, but I’m just not feeling too inspired. I think I will edit an older post, say hello to my newest country to visit (Georgia!) and then call it quits for the night.

So here is the completed post about jerks on airplanes, now with a second story added. Yay!