- Resident Artists
Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
We started the day dark and early in Baker City. Most of us woke up somewhere around 5:30am or so in order to meet at 6:15 to depart for Pine Eagle Elementary/Junior High/High School in Halfway, Oregon. The hills and mountains were covered in snow, but the roads were clear. Opera singers really don't like getting up anywhere near this early, and I would say most of us weren't exactly bright-eyed or bushy-tailed as the saying goes. But we were treated to a spectacular sunrise in the mountains as we drove along the Hell's Canyon Scenic By-way. The sun cast a reddish orange glow over the peaks while the mountains and valleys were a colored in the deep purple filter of early dawn's shadow.
We couldn't afford to spend too much time admiring the view though as most of us were putting the finishing touches on learning some new music for 3 upcoming concert performances or catching a few more moments of sleep or making sure that the van didn't drive over the edge of the twisting roads.
We arrived at the school without incident and were met with enthusiasm, if not necessarily the most sure directions on where to unload the set from the truck. Having been told that it would work best for us if we drove the Penske truck around the building, our fearless and intrepid tour manager proceeded to drive around the back of the building.
However, we were then told that we would be better off if we had stayed in the front of the building. In the course of moving the truck back to the front of the building, the moving truck got stuck in the snowy "trail" that was behind the school. At this point we were getting closer and closer to show time, and we hadn't unloaded one piece of the set.
We gathered the troops that had been waiting for the truck to pull around and decided upon a course of action. While the maintenance supervisor went to get the tractor in case we had to pull the truck out, the rest of us were going to try to push the truck out of its predicament. You just read that correctly. We were going to try to push a moving van out of the snow. We did as well as some optimistic people might think and better than most pessimists might imagine.
Yeah, we moved it a grand total of about a foot really! We even tried digging some of the snow away, but to no real avail. Thankfully, the tractor soon arrived, and the truck was able to be pull around front to be unloaded.
Normally, we’ll get a few adults from the community coming to the shows at the more rural schools, but today was different. We had close to an audience of equal thirds: one third elementary, one third high school, and one third adults from the school and community. This might be the best mix I’ve ever seen for an audience!
The Cinderella show is really a show for all ages. The younger children like it because it’s the Cinderella story. The older students get more of the jokes, and the adults are beyond caring about what’s cool or not and will laugh whenever they think something is funny! It made for a very lively audience, which always feeds the performance. We had a great performance that was appreciated by all.
We were then scheduled to do an Improv show at 1pm and as the teachers of the Elementary class were leaving after Cinderella, they were determined to come back for the Improv, which was originally scheduled to be for the High School students only. Turns out, just about everyone from the first show came back for the Improv show and it was a real treat for us to perform the Improv show for such a diverse group of people.
I could go on and on about what we experienced performing at Pine Eagle. They were a great group to perform for and asked great questions and gave us their full attention, their enthusiasm and their appreciation. Normally, we have a few minutes to entertain questions after the improv, but this afternoon we were told we could go as long as we wanted, because “they [the students] don’t get this opportunity very often.” So we took questions from children, teens and adults until the questions started repeating and dwindling. It was a wonderful experience.
Then we took a little excursion to Hell’s Canyon. It turned into a slightly longer drive along more twisting mountain roads than we originally thought, but we were able to take some excellent pictures of the view, and I think it was a good trip for us to take before heading on to the metropolis of La Grande.
Most of us probably started the day grumbling at the early start and the possible interminable length of the day itself, but I would wager that most of us, if not all, discovered that even the longest day can be filled with extraordinary moments of beauty, laughter, appreciation and friendship. It definitely was a long day! But we were definitely rewarded for it with an adventure that might be hard to top. Only time will tell.
Written by Daniel McLauglin