We’ve reached that point in the theater season where I am falling behind the curve. That’s not surprising given that I barely keep up with the curve even on a good week. Reviews keep popping up all over the place now. There were two in the T-D this past weekend: one for “Always, Patsy Cline” at Hanover Tavern and the other for CAT’s “Almighty Bob.” GayRVA had a “Two Boys” review on plus some pix from the “Ghost Light After Party” and Mr. Porter’s “Two Boys” review aired just the other day (link over to the right there). Add in two nice T-D articles lately – one on “Lord of the Flies” and another on the Minds Wide Open celebration that kicks off (officially) in March – and you can count me officially overwhelmed.
But, in the midst of it all, one more thing that I’d like to throw out there: this weekend, Clay Jenkinson – the man behind “The Thomas Jefferson Hour” – will be in the Virginia Beach area. I’m somewhat heartbroken that the opening of the Mill’s “39 Steps” and a family commitment will keep me from heading down there to see him. Why does Mr. Jenkinson deserve a mention on this site? Well, besides the fact that my admiration for Thomas Jefferson and my overall history-geekiness make me a devoted fan of the podcast, Mr. Jenkinson is also a Chautaquan, that is an educator who is also a performer, often taking on the guise of an historical figure (at least that’s my understanding of what one is; feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).
Richmond’s place as an important historical locale has allowed many local performers to find work doing re-enactments, perhaps the most enduring situation being Kevin McGranahan’s take on Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty” speech that has been performed at St. John’s Church for decades. In Mr. Jenkinson’s work, there is a great synergy (if I can use such a clichéd word) between education and performance that results in a more complete understanding and appreciation of history and the unique forces that coalesced to form this great country of ours. As the road to the next presidential election becomes littered with debates and speeches and billions of dollars of advertising that is sure to become (more) tiresome, I think it’s worth recognizing the work of under-appreciated actor/educators who really make history come alive again.
And, if you'd like a dose of this kind of refreshing and edifying history on a weekly basis, I highly recommend taking a listen to the Thomas Jefferson hour (it's on iTunes and also runs on WRIR locally on Tuesday mornings). It's a welcome uplift amidst the disheartening barrage of today's politics.