About Community- Patrick Walsh Blogs On Emma

PatrickLet’s talk about community.

As a freelance director it is always what I’m most concerned about when I take on a project. Who are the people in the rehearsal room with me? Who is the audience that we are trying to reach? Why is this story important to impart to the people in the theatre on any particular night? Why should these people even bother to show up?

These questions routinely come to mind when I’m thinking about taking on a project. For EMMA they seemed to come more acutely.  I mean what is the dialogue between a book written by Jane Austen in 1816 and the city of Hillsboro 200 years later? Sure people love the book, but is that a good enough reason to put on a theatrical adaptation of it?

Looking closer at the community of Highbury in Austen’s novel, one can see that it is a place of cultural, monetary, and social disparity, a place of privilege, a place that is not kind to women of high intelligence and ambition, a place that makes pariah’s of any group outside of the prescribed social strata. Sound like any country that you know?

I believe that any community is always, and should be, judged by the questions that its theatre asks. In this way, I think that Bag&Baggage is very brave for programming this play, asking these questions, and allowing me the space to direct it with these five actors (and two kick-ass Stage Managers). It’s really quite a progressive choice and an exciting ride for Hillsboro to take.

While trying to bring these traits, hilariously, to the forefront of the production, our community in the rehearsal room has been working so extremely hard to make a truthful production that honors the intent of Austen’s novel, while putting the traditional B&B twist on this classic tale. I’ve felt embraced by Scott, Beth, the Resident Actors, and everyone on staff at Bag&Baggage, as well as the people I’ve met on Main street during rehearsals. To feel supported by any community is a gift and I’ve appreciated my time in Hillsboro mostly because of the people I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with during the journey to create this story.

It’s been a pleasure to be in this rehearsal room. To see these seven people support, trust, listen, and love each other. If there is a reason to come to see EMMA it is this. Watch genuine human connection blossom on stage in your own community. Support these people who are offering thought provoking questions, comedy, and live performance to Hillsboro. It’s a beautiful thing to behold and I hope you’ll make the trek to the Venetian to see for yourselves.

Patrick Walsh
Guest Director