The long walk completed

By Tim Smith

Where A r [ts] Thou?

Content – Create – Connect

Est: 2006

I just could not let the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s lifetime of devotion to duty, family and the world stage slip away in my memory without sharing a few additional thoughts.

Someone once said that no one stages milestone events as well as the British, and that was certainly on display over the 11 days from the Queen’s passing to her burial at Windsor Castle.

From the time her casket left Westminster Abby to final internment, the ceremonies were orchestrated, and captured, down to the finest detail.

The lone bag pipe at St. George’s Chapel was the perfect finale, a gift to the nation from the Queen herself; she planned for its exact placement.

There was art in all that transpired, and as much as we bemoan the media, the coverage that I watched was balanced and respectful, especially in selecting the moments that will be remembered for years to come. Well done.

Just off stage left: Maybe it is just that I am in a reflective mood, enhanced by broadcasting art on display, or it’s simply fortuitous timing, enjoy the following.

I was captivated by a quote from American playwright, screenwriter and author, Neil Simon. It captures the landscape of the performance artists world from the perspective of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner:

Mr. Simon: “The actor is the bravest soul I know. My god, it’s hard to be an actor. I know of no greater act of courage than to walk out on an empty stage, seeing the silhouettes of four ominous figures sitting in the darkened theatre, with your mouth drying and your fingers trembling, trying to keep the pages in hand from rattling and trying to focus your eyes on the lines so you don’t automatically skip the two most important speeches in the scene, and all the while trying to give a performance worthy of an opening night with only four pages of a play, the rest of which you know nothing about and can only guess at . . .and then to finally get through it, only to hear from the voice in the darkened theater, 'Thank you.' You nod politely, and start the interminable six mile walk off the stage into the wings, only to have to walk back on because you left your purse or your galoshes your envelope with your resumes on the chair at stage right, now having to make a 12 mile walk off into the wings. It has got to be the most painful, frustrating and fearful experience in the world. Because with it comes a 90% chance of rejection. And to do it time after time, year after year, even after you’ve proven yourself in show after show, requires more than courage and fearlessness. It requires such dedication to your craft and to the work you’ve chosen for your life . . . Since 1962, I have been one of those silhouetted figures in the darkened theater and I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for your courage, your dedication, your talents . . .The collaboration that has existed between us all these years had certainly not gone unappreciated by me.” (Neil Simon: September 1983.)

Mr. Simon is the author of “. . . more than 30 plays and nearly the same number of movie screenplays, most film adaptations of his plays. He has received more combined Oscar and Tony Award nominations than any other writer.”

Some of his more notable works are: Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Come Blow Your Horn, The Odd Couple, (and) The Goodbye Girl.

From his neighborhood, Mr. Rogers once said: “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”

HonorX3: Recognition may be in the works for multiple Tony Award winning producer/director, Harold Prince, and two mentors (*) and friends were remembered, (and on the same day and time) by organizations that they guided to prominence. One operation is based via New Jersey, and the other, Texas (Houston).

The power of Connections made, through creative application, in our towns.

(*) For ETP: JP’s creative partner as well, one note at a time.

For EFA: My Grandfather, who brought his hometown paper to prominence as well in rural Illinois.


Where ARTS Thou? is published in the Wednesday newsstand edition of the Pauls Valley Democrat: Founded 1904.

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