Ash Fork Madness©️
Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
copyright 2019 Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
The New Year finally arrived, nineteen eighty-two. I had five and a half months to go until curtain time.
G.B. was tied to his desk for the afternoon, so I sneaked out of the office armed with a stack of small posters which announced the Ash Fork Madness casting call. I put them up in the town’s cafes, gas stations, launderette, K.O.A. and the post office.
The distribution of the posters was timed to coincide with the arrival of our weekly newspaper, the Williams News, which included the first public reference to Ash Fork Madness. The advertisement appeared with a can-can dancer logo and was an open call to: singers, dancers, actor, artists, bookkeepers, carpenters, typists, stagehands, electricians, and helpers — no experience or talent necessary. I expected one third of the town’s population to show up, plus some people from the Kaibab, Juniper and the quarries — maybe two hundred enthusiasts in all.
On the night of the cattle call twenty-one hopefuls showed up. There were seventeen women, with a few more promised. The four men who showed up were: Shirley’s husband Bill, their youngest son Keith, our gas station mechanic and the spirited husband of a mischievous young teacher. Madness was something they were all eager to associate themselves with and two even exuded talent and promise, if not some degree of experience! I told the potential cast to use Shirley and Lorraine’s names, never mine, when referring to the show in order to keep G.B. oblivious to my connection with it. Everyone knew G.B. and fully understood the situation.
A list was made of all who attended, and at the end of the evening I went home to ponder my predicament. I knew how hard it was for amateur theatre groups to attract the necessary men and young people, and I needed to make this venture appealing to at least fifty men, women and children! I thought back to the original Madness and Virginia running out of the family Arty-Crafty shop, hauling strangers off the street to “star in a show.”
Before advertising the next audition I primed the pump by begging and bullying every rock doodler, stone yard worker, local gas station customer and passing stranger to try their hand at Madness. I also decided to approach the school again.
I asked the principal if he could and would give credits for music, drama, art and woodworking to any students who participated in Madness and added, “Of course the teachers would also be most welcome to join.” I made a point of mentioning that we would give a percentage of the profits to the school’s booster club with deepest appreciation — if the school’s staff and students took part.
The principal scanned the script, then settled himself to listen while I described my vision of the show.
“There will be one director for each act. That way the wrong director can’t wreck the entire show — just one act. It would also minimize the stress and panic for novice directors who are unaccustomed to problems they’re going to encounter.”
The principal did not say anything, but he nodded his approval so I continued.
“During the next four months the cast will learn the script and have costume fittings while the crew constructs sets and large props, and the seamstresses sew costumes. As soon as the rehearsals begin May 1st, I start painting the sets and creating the large props. Concurrently the crafts volunteers will create and decorate the hand props. The stage manager will assume his duties and the electrician will plot the stage lighting. Some people will drop out and disrupt the rehearsals if we begin too soon, but learning lines and lyrics in advance will give the cast confidence and compensate for their inexperience.”
Again he nodded his approval.
Before I rose to leave I felt obliged to clarify something, “Mr. Hanna, I love my husband, but I’m neither blind nor deaf, nor do I agree with his manner. I was in the car yesterday when he stopped in the middle of the road, got out and ran up to your car hollering those terrible things at you and about the school board. I cannot go the rounds each evening to apologize for G.B.’s shameless lack of diplomacy, so I’ll just do it now. I’m sorry my husband is a moron.”
I left the school feeling the principal was anxious to help, but I did not know that I had just struck the more gold.
Posted by Charlotte Madison at 06:20
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|For over forty years, painting related totally to the American Southwest. It was people of the dry hot desert, solid mesas, cacti, stone and canyons that made my heart leap.
When I realized I would never see the desert again, I began a search for something to paint. Nana suggested, B.C, vineyards and took me to Penticton where I did one painting. Nana and Gary then began to take me on Mystery tours of the island and always included a vineyard. But they all were so green! So many leaves so many trees - I don't do trees and I rarely use green - dont really like looking at green, but I got started on a duty series not an inspired series.
I guess it was July or early August when we were driving home from a winery visit. I was grousing about painting the Festive Flying Grape series
when Gary said "Start another series, you can work on more than one at a time."
For some reason those words triggered the words "I could paint the Island artists!" Nana and Gary agreed and it was the topic of conversation all the way home
For a while I was afraid I wouldn't get volunteers to pose but it is rolling and each one offers something special to inspire me. And it is lovely to feel all I am doing was sparked by Gary and like all I do, supported by Nana.
April Update 2012
Sixteen fine artists, many of national repute, have posed for Artists of Vancouver Island and many are booked or promised. There will be no poses after June 30,2012. When I have painted all twenty-five I will turn my thought to . . . what next?