I've been in Orlando the past couple of days, in early preparation for TELLING: ORLANDO. I, along with Max Rayneard of The Telling Project, were scheduled to conduct interviews with local veterans. I selected 8 applicants from the submissions, and in collaboration with Florida Humanities Council and University of Central Florida, arranged to have them on UCF campus, so the interviews could be recorded and added to UCF RICHES program, as well as UCF Community Veterans History Project.
As one can imagine, the interviews are quite intense. They are approximately 2 hours in length, and cover early life and recruitment, boot camp, time served in the military, and reintegrating back into the civilian population. Of the 8 scheduled, 5 actually showed (not unusual), and 1 of those ended up being a phone interview, as the interviewee had injured a knee, and was unable to make it to campus.
This particular round of interviews was tinged with the residue of the very recent massacre at Pulse Nightclub, that had taken place not far from where we were. A sadness permeated the process, which inherently already has an air of tension and trauma. Listening to the UCF staff discuss the tragedy, I was taken back to my own experience living in Manhattan on September 11th, and the strange quality that life took on, in the days that followed. I also wondered how the veterans we were interviewing were impacted. Some I asked, some I didn't. But I was aware of the sharp contrast of once being a soldier, to now being a civilian, in what, for all intents and purposes, was an attack on our citizens.
Now, I will follow up with the interviewees, thank them once again for their continued service, and make sure they are up for the month long rehearsal and performance commitment in September. If they are not, it is totally understandable, and we hope another veteran will be available to be interviewed to fill the spot. Max does the Herculean job of transcribing the interviews and creating the verbatim script for performance. We will work together on shaping the script into what we think will tell the veteran's and family member's stories well, and what will serve the performance.
I am ...looking forward?.....to working on this, with all of the complications and implications that the recent tragedy imbues on the process.
It so happens I will be working on a couple of other projects simultaneously. One is a directing a production of Tru, a one man show about Truman Capote. It opens July 14 at the Studio @620. Production meetings start next week, and rehearsals start the 28th. If you'd like to come see what that's all about, feel free to come to our reception to meet the Mark Chambers (Tru) on Monday the 20th, 5-7pm at Studio@620.
A Parkinson's Collective is slowly gaining momentum. I am working closely with 3 local residents who've been diagnosed with PD, to get the group running and meeting regularly. We've had one successful gathering so far, but summer is proving to be a difficult time to get everyone in the room together! In the meantime, I am working with the folks at American Parkinson's Disease Association (ADPA), Florida chapter, on getting a flyer up and word out to the greater community. The ADPA endorsement will help a great deal.