Sunday of hell week, all available cast and crew met in Saxapahaw to load all our hard work thus far into two box trucks (20 and 26 feet), one panel-van, and a collection of personal vehicles with worthy packing space.
I was actually really excited for it. While my artistic and engineering skills are mid-tier at best among this amazing crew, I can manage a truck pack with the best of them. I was up in the box instantly, organizing and strapping puppets into place. When the truck got crowded, I was back on the ground running the flow out the door.
Spirits were high as we tidied up the astonishingly empty studio. All that Summer’s work suddenly whisked away. We had knocked it out of the park, and everything was on its way.
We detoured to the local market in Chapel Hill for lunch and then met the convoy at the theater. The workflow was more of a trickle when we arrived, so as the people who already knew the lay of the land set a game plan, I took a minute to check out our new home.
The Forest Theater is a lovely venue, nestled in the crook between several hills, stone tiers and walls carving out performance space.
I stepped onto that stage, and, even with the rows of seating totally empty, was filled with excitement. I had been so buried in the work I had nearly forgot this is a performance. The thought of the seats filled with people, of having all this hard work seen by people I’ve never even met, was so uplifting.
Invigorated, I dove back to work. The theater is outdoors, with only one small building to house us. When all the puppets are inside, it is PACKED. We had to rent a storage pod in addition to that space. Once all the puppets were unloaded, the interns ran around the space a little, everyone riding high on the fact that we had finally arrived.
Eventually I plopped down in my favorite spot at Chris’ elbow, watching him assemble custom-lengths for extension cords. After watching long enough and asking enough questions, he had me help him take the next measurement and attach one of the plug ends.
The interns were taking off to go swimming, but I was too enthralled with learning from Chris to pull away, so I encouraged them to go ahead without me, and assumed I would just be running late to catch up with them.
To my great pleasure, Nyssa and Maya hung back, and took me with them to the Quarry swimming hole. I am not subtle about my insecurities of feeling left out and need to be actively included, so this gesture meant a lot to me.
Still riding high from a tremendously successfully pack day, we traipsed into the quarry giggling and full of play. Technically, swimming is not recommended in the quarry, as it is deep with steep sides and mostly un-monitored but it was full of locals on floats and rafts and it’s only discouraged not illegal. So. We swam.
I didn’t have a float, but besides being a strong swimmer there were plenty of logs floating about—probably dragged in by other un-prepared visitors. Logs are more fun anyway, letting us play balance games and other challenges.
We didn’t stay too long, knowing there was a long, strenuous week ahead of us. And although I went home with full intentions to just relax and get my plans in order, I happened to get back just as Jenny and the boys were leaving for ice cream and they invited me along. I have felt like I had very little time to spend with the family, and also they were taking the jeep which meant I’d get to sit in the open back which is something I have a fondness for akin to a dog slobbering out the passenger side window, so how could I say no?
As I leaned against the low walls of the jeep, feeling the gentle curves of the back roads and the warm air of the summer dusk, I felt deep contentment. The moon was rising in a clear sky, I was still buzzing from the logistical success and communal fun of the day, and in less than a week, we would be opening an amazing show. All I could feel, coming in and going out, was love.