And the 13th Annual Linda Wise Awards Winners are...

A Letter from HENRY J. WISE:

2/2/1016

Bonnie Marshall and the Friends of the Depot Players:

Hello my dear friends and fellow thespians. Shelley Beth and I wish we were with you to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Depot Players and the 9th Linda P. Wise Awards in person, but we will have to celebrate in Singapore. We are about a month into our three month trip through SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand, with minor stops in Paris, Singapore and Hawaii to break up the longest flights.

I wanted to say how pleased I am and how proud Linda would have been to know that the Depot Players is still in existence, and has been a part of the cultural life of Rockdale and Newton Counties for the past 40 years. Very few volunteer or community based entities, and even fewer  theater companies can make such a claim to such longevity. You all are truly wonderful.

In my memory, which was never very reliable and has not been improved by age, Linda was asked by the Rockdale Historical Society to do a play for the community as a part of an effort to save the Depot from destruction. The building had not been maintained or years. The Historical Society deserves a great deal of credit for raising the necessary funds and putting in the necessary infrastructure, but I remember it was the cast and crew of what would become the Depot Players who cleared out a half century of junk and swept out a century's collection of coal dust and soot from the rafters and the dragon and the floor, and repaired the dock enough to make the Depot a usable space.

I think that the first play was The Rainmaker, with Kaye Adams, Nils Forman, Ernie Smith, Jimmy Clay, Bill Johns, Ron Carley and John Scott Hendry. I still remember "A hundred bucks is just a hundred bucks, but a rain in a dry season is a sight to behold", and Bill Johns (Jim) swallowing a whole plate of raw eggs when Jimmy (Noah) said that raw was the only way he was sure he could cook them when Kaye (Lizzie) went on strike. Lots more of us were crew and support and the Players grew to be a major part of the lives of hundreds over the years. I think that the cast of Camelot itself consisted of hundreds, at least that is what it felt like trying to find room off stage yet close enough to make an entrance on time. Trust me, I know about late entrances. I once left Kaye Adams onstage, alone, with no lines for about three minutes because as The Telephone Man in Barefoot In The Park I forgot the phone. My character's single purpose in the play is to build one joke on bitching about having to climb six flights to install the phone. Kaye had been waiting for days for the phone man to come. Most of you are too young to remember, but waiting for the phone man was an almost universal ordeal for anyone who moved until the the cell phone was invented. In any case, in order to preserve the joke, once I forgot the prop I had to pretend to go back down the six flights and then back up, leaving Kaye to make up what she could to fill the space.

Linda only appeared on the Depot stage in one production, as Rosa in The Rose Tattoo directed by Nancy Florman. Nancy was a wonderful and talented director, and Linda was a force to behold. She wasn't even upstaged when the pregnant goat let loose a stream of pee that damned near washed away the front three rows of the audience and stopped the play.

 

Nancy and Linda and now Ron are the spirits that haunt and guard over the Depot Players. It is only fitting that you choose to honor each year's excellent work in their names. They live on through the enjoyment that the Depot Players continues to bring to the casts and crews of the plays that make up a Depot season and in the joy that you bring to the audience.

 

May you continue for another 40 years!

 

Hank Wise

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