Kickin' It Old Skool
Interesting weekend at the theatre. Aside from getting exactly half of the sound battening in the air, and most of the wood cut to shore up the remainder; in addition to prepping the space for a staff meeting and a play reading for tomorrow, not to mention our monthly late night cabaret coming up on Friday; we had a visit - no that's not exactly correct - we were joined in our two-day work party by one of the founding members of our theatre company, a guy who literally hasn't been around for about fifteen years, but who heard we had some new digs, got a curious itch to see what we were up to, and decided to drop in yesterday to lend a hand - despite the forecast of a snowstorm, which did in fact hit mid-day (alas, it's all just a distant memory by this evening.)
Every institution has its history and mythology, and in the Annex chronicles, Micha Rice ranks as one of the "founding five", who along with fellow Bainbridge High School alums Dave Skubinna and Garrett Bennett, and Mike Rainey and John Lawler, created and established Annex Theatre, and who moved the company over from the island to Seattle in the late 1980's. For the first few years of the theatre's existence, these guys were its face, its core, and its leadership. Over the course of time, all of them eventually left the company, (Dave, regrettably, died of AIDS in 1994), passing on the torch to a newer, younger generation of artists who caught the bug, and just happened to land on the doorstep of the venerable space they held at 1916 4th Avenue from 1987 until 2000.
I happened to be one of those newbies, although I had a prior connection due to my friendship with Dave and Mike, both of whom I'd gone to school with at Western Washington University from 1983 - 1985. We all moved to Seattle (or thereabouts) shortly after graduation, and ended up working, along with a number of our fellow drama department alumns, at Ticketmaster Northwest, then located inside the bowels of the Kingdome; in fact, so many of us ended up working there (at one time there were about a dozen of us), that we quickly dubbed the place "the Western Theatre Alumni Club". It was from there that most of us joined the Annex Company, although of that group I'm the only one still actively involved in the organization.
Anyway, back to the main story: I drove up to the theatre yesterday morning, and was parking "Little Nellie", when I noticed this guy, 40-ish, portly, wearing a motorcycle "bunny suit", snapping pictures of our facade. He looked vaguely familier, but I couldn't place him. After I'd stowed my gear, he walked up and asked if I was part of the Annex group. When I replied in the affirmative, he introduced himself, and naturally, I knew who he was as soon as he said his name.
So, Micha spent about four hours yesterday, and three hours today helping us install the sound baffling, which was truly awe-inspiring. Again, keep in mind he's been out of theatre for more than a decade at least; just working, doing his thing, like most people. But, for some strange reason he gets this urge to reconnect with something that at one time held a great deal of importance in his life, and lucky for him there are people still keeping this thing he started going - and he even happens to recognize a couple of familiar faces out of the fifteen or so folks who also showed up on Saturday to help out - AND we're all there because we're trying to create a NEW SPACE in which to do this thing that we do - that he used to do, but doesn't anymore - but, who knows? MAYBE he can do it again.
It just made me feel (and based on reactions, I don't think I was the only one) very proud - and humble - to have Micha there in our midst, sweating and straining through the task at hand, while at the same time drawing that thread which connects everyone who's ever been a part of this merry band we call Annex Theatre just a little bit more tightly together. A little of the Old Skool In The House, but not so much riffing on the past (although there was naturally a little of that), but focused on building our future - together.
And I think he left feeling something too: that he was welcome, not just for the sake of his past contributions, but for being willing to give of his time and energy, and to put a little bit of himself into the new space and the new Company.
Welcome back, Micha. We'll keep the light on for you.
on 7:50 PM