Tuesday, August 30, 2011

From the Balcony

"Do you two mind if we stop one more place?" I asked my friend, Paulette, from Oregon and my once neighbor, Janet, from Neff Road. Really they had no choice. I was driving.

The building was dark when we arrived that afternoon. No one was in sight. I tried the door, and a flood of memories took me in.

The small child sat in the balcony overlooking that stage. Lights came up. Lights reflecting on a little girl's face. My small hands conducted the Arizona Boys Choir, and my heart sang to the music of Ferrante and Teicher. George Shearing's hands running across the keyboard thrilled me.

As with many kids growing up in Darke County, we were first exposed to the arts in Memorial Hall. Community concerts introduced us to a world beyond, inspiring me to be in the arts. Doors of possibilities opened, those I would not have discovered any other way.

I was determined to see the Hall once more. The last time I had been in Memorial Hall was about fifty-five years before when four little girls stood on the stage competing in the Rural Arts Competition. Singing "When Molly was a Baby", the girls took first place. All these years later, I returned.

"I'm going to the balcony," I announced.

"Do you think we should?" my friend said. "Maybe we are breaking in."

"Well, if I go to jail, at least I will have seen the stage," I announced as we felt our way up the unlit stairwell.

A few light pots lit the stage. I felt my heart drawn to a place I'd once stood. I looked upon the place where my love of theatre began. I embraced the memory of a girl with dreams, dreams that would someday take her to writing and acting. My heart filled with deep affection for this place I remembered.

We didn't get arrested that day. I left for Indiana the next. I'm not sure if we broke in or if maybe a silent Hand lead me back to experience Memorial Hall once more.

Thank you to those of you who support the arts in Greenville, Ohio. You give young people wings to fly and dreams of tomorrow.

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