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Revisiting An Old Friend…

January 14, 2015


It hasn’t been that long – a bit more than three months. The last time I presented “Rebecca: the story of Rebecca Ebey” was in Port Angeles at the Forest Storytelling Festival. It’s the story of a young women, Rebecca Ebey, who was one of the earliest settlers on land that became part of the United States first National Historical Reserve – called Ebey’s Landing.

img103The nicest thing that an audience can say about a historical piece is that they felt they “were there”. That sense of immediacy is always what I am hoping for. I wanted to bring this pioneer woman who settled here (where I live) on Whidbey Island in 1851 back; to make her story live again. Afterwards, from some of the audience comments, that seemed to have happened – and I was glad. Then – I put her away – for the time being.

img044There is something special about bringing a character – and a performance – out of mothballs and looking at both again. As all tellers know, something changes. Time has passed; the new audience is different- and you, the teller, are different, too. Most of the time the changes don’t appear until I begin rehearsing out loud. Suddenly, the character emerges in a new light.

In the performance, I present excerpts of Rebecca’s diary, which she wrote between 1852 – 53 as her family first settled on their claim. This time, as I read her diary aloud, I sensed an emotional vivacity that I never knew Rebecca had. From all accounts, she was a gentle woman – very devout and somewhat shy (VERY different from me- which made my initial character work a real challenge). But, in her diary, she had the freedom –to express herself; to describe what was happening as she saw it. I knew that – but I hadn’t FELT it the way I did now. It was such fun, realizing how she had thrown off the constraints of her society, exposing hidden emotions and sensitivities. And – it gave a new liveliness to the diary excerpts. And – finally – it gave me a new respect and understanding of Rebecca that -hopefully – will make the next performance of her story even richer.


(Note: This is not actually Rebecca Ebey…but it is how I imagine she might look.)

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