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Reflections on UPON THE FRAGILE SHORE in Auburn, AL


Auburn, AL

Bree Windham

The reading in Auburn resonated with an aspect of the play that I didn't connect with right away. The reading was comprised of some friends of mine from undergrad, in the town that I love and lived in for four years while studying theatre for the first time. It was in one of my closest friend's coffee shop. Sarah (aka Mama Mocha) is a leader in town and she's only about 28. She has turned local businesses in Auburn into more earth conscious, people-minded ventures. When something tragic happens, Sarah is one of the first people to say, "How can I help?" And she's also the kind of woman who you are confident you can conquer anything when she's got your back. This is all to say that I was basically at home for this reading, with my chosen family. Because we chose a more guerrilla style reading, I think we had a unique response. We weren't in anyone's faces or anything, but rather it felt more like an invitation to hear the play. We were set up by the bar and we read the play out loud, top to bottom, with one break. we had no official audience when we began, but we had a room full of people to talk to and I think that it created one of the most fulfilling theatre experiences I've been a part of. Like the play itself, we were never accusing the audience of "not helping" or "aiding the disasters with their apathy" as some politically motivated arts pieces can do. I think that this really helped the reading. We just shared the story. It was funny to see people find a reason to get closer to us to listen better. It was like fishing. We would see them getting ready to take the bait, but we had to make sure not to make any sudden movements so that once they were hooked we could slowly reel them in. This happened SEVERAL times, including a few times with the barista himself. There was a great response from the readers as well. We stayed after and talked about the play. As you know from our previous conversations, I connect with the "why are we here" aspect of this play the strongest, but I think I walked away from it asking "what can I do?" I cannot give you a head count or audience feedback as we had a very sneaky shy audience that never signed up to come. But based on how many people made excuses to look at the tchotkes around us....we had a very attentive few. I don't know if I would necessarily recommend that style again for this play, as I think the message is too important to have people listen to parts and not the sum. But I can say that this play is enticing. I witnessed that and I think it was one of the coolest theatre moments in my life. I'm not an actor. As a lit intern I always shied away from anything that would get me on stage, even reading stage directions. However, I felt the strong sense of ownership attached with working with you for this play. I didn't realize until after I had been a reader that, "Oh yeah, I'm scared of this..." I think it's because I knew I had to voice these things in order for them to be heard and I have never found a play that I felt this passionately about. So I don't know if I could really rate this reading as a success or a failure, but I can say it was a wonderful learning opportunity and I take pride in not knowing how many lives we touched with your words that night. We took public issues and made them private pleas (unintentionally) and I would say that along those lines, it worked. 

Thank you for the honor of working with you and your staff. Thank you for letting me be a part of such a wonderful endeavor. Auburn is usually seen as the "little brother" town in comparison to Birmingham and Tuscaloosa (home of the University of Alabama). People came and asked us questions after the play and it created some really interesting dialogue with complete strangers.