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Flashbacks: Echoes of Past Issues


Laurence G. Avery, “Introduction: At The Lost Colony,” The Lost Colony: A Symphonic Drama of American History, by Paul Green, ed. Laurence G. Avery (U of North Carolina P, 2001) 1–19.


Walls writes about the director and designers as well. It is here that the show’s history comes in. To tell about current director Ira David Wood’s vision for the show, Walls has to tell about Wood’s having acted in the show from 1968 to 1970 under director Joe Layton. When Wood became director in 2013, his desire was to return the show to what Layton had done, updating the production to contemporary theatrical standards, meeting current audience expectations about such things as pacing, length, and even action seen on stage.

involvement with the show starting before Long was born and even before World War II. It also must include mention of Irene Smart Rains, the show’s original costumer and Long’s mentor, who worked on the show into the 1980s. One last part of The Lost Colony that Backstage at The Lost Colony captures which can’t be found elsewhere in print is Walls telling about the things connected with but outside of the show. These include The Lost Colony’s Professional Theater Workshop productions as well as days on the beach and sometimes even day jobs at

Similarly, The Lost Colony production history comes in when telling about production designer William Ivy Long. To understand Long’s work redesigning the costumes starting in 1988 and continuing as he became the show’s production designer in 1995, a position he still holds, means having to go back to Long’s family

local tourist-oriented businesses. Just as interesting are glimpses into life in Morrison Grove, where much of the cast and crew live during the summer. In fact, it is here, in the world within The Lost Colony culture but outside the production itself, that I wish Walls had given just a bit more. Saturday night post-production parties


the show’s eightieth anniversary season, from pre-opening rehearsals in mid-May to post-production strike in late August. Walls is a theater professional and alumnus of The Lost Colony, having worked as an actor technician in 1983, 1987, and 1990, and as a carpenter in 1997 and 1998. His view is definitely backstage – there is hardly a mention of what it is like to watch the show from the audience’s point of view. Walls’s perspective is what makes the book work. Aside from Laurence G. Avery’s introduction to his 2001 edition of Green’s script,2 in which Avery uses a night in the audience and a night in the control booth as a central feature, Backstage at The Lost Colony is the lone work I know of that uses this point of view. Walls tells about the production from not only the perspective of the booth, but also from throughout the entire theater complex. And he uses not only a single performance (or two) for its setting, but an entire season. He watches as the sets are brought out and repaired in the late spring and as the lighting crew works into the night to get set up. He visits the costume shop to see how the costumes are prepared for the new season as well as how they are washed and repaired as the summer goes on. He attends dance rehearsals and discusses the difficulties and dangers of doing movement on sand. This is a work that looks at what everyday life is like for the performers and technicians who spend some three months together putting on six performances a week. In addition to writing about the performers and technicians,


ABOVE Director Ira David Wood, III (center) with actors Robert Hooghkirk as Old Tom

(left) and Kole Mitchell McKinley (right, understudy) during rehearsal, Waterside Theatre, Manteo, NC, 2017

Profile for East Carolina University

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.