Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Best Laid Plans...

It was a sunny November day in Philadelphia and I decided to wander through the historic section of town to explore the old cobblestone streets and the quiet quaint shops. I was having a wonderful adventure as I had been steeped in early American lore, architecture, and artifacts throughout me teenage years. My mother had taken on a momentous challenge of restoring a pre-revolutionary house in East Hampton, Long Island. I had pitched in to help when I was home from boarding school and the project took several years to complete. I loved the discoveries, and smells, and textures of the gifts from the past that we lovingly collected, sorted, and stored to be given to one museum or another.

Anyway, it was a leisurely Friday morning before our performance with the National Repertory Theater that evening. Our company had been touring around the major cities in the United States and we were closing in Philadelphia the next day and moving the truckloads of sets and costumes, as well as the cast and crew, into Washington. Our opening night was being telecast throughout the country and we were having a gala reception with the President, the Congress, and the elite of Washington. We were being declared the National Theater of the United States of America. What an honor!

I was walking on air that day and the well worn cobblestones were the Yellow Brick Road. I stopped at a small gift store that caught my eye and I entered into its enchantment. The woman behind the counter had her radio on. She informed me that President Kennedy had just been shot.
Oh my God! The horror and despair of that moment will live with me forever. In shock, I went back to my hotel room and like everyone else, tried to absorb the reality of the events. Of course, all our grand plans for Washington were scrapped. We arrived that Sunday to a city in mourning. No one was thinking of going to the theater. Although we played our run there, it was a solemn engagement.

I did stand on the side of the street to watch the funeral cortege pass and grieve the hope we had for America. What now?

We changed the schedule of the tour and, after playing in several more cities over several more months, we opened on Broadway at the Belascoe Theater.

Prema Rose

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