Page 75

Flashbacks: Echoes of Past Issues

illustrating the text or taking the story a step further. While Backstage at The Lost Colony is not an academic book by any means, it is a useful record and a reminder for those studying Green’s script that The Lost Colony is not just a script, but a public presentation in which Green’s script is filtered through directors, designers, actors and technicians, all necessary for audiences to experience the symphonic drama as intended. Even so, there are

some elements of the production that one wishes were addressed. For example, Walls never discusses casting a show in which Native American characters are a major part of the cast and yet are rarely played by Native American actors. Finally, the very format of Backstage at The Lost Colony is another of its merits. Not fully a picture book and not quite big enough to be a coffee table book, Backstage at The Lost Colony edges on being both. For that reason,

1930s, but when I ask him if he ever spent a summer doing the show, he pipes right up, speaking with the assurance of any show veteran: “My parents parked us there in the summer of 1941, me and my sister, Byrd. She danced in the show and I spent the whole summer working with the three lighting guys. I was just beginning to get interested in electronics.” Paul stuck with electronics, eventually earning a PhD from MIT after serving in the US Navy. He helped work out the theories behind the Doppler radar mapping techniques used by NASA’s Magellan space probe to survey the surface of Venus. Among his many honors, in 1982 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and he is also a Fellow at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. But in the summer of ’41 he was a teenager fascinated by radio whose heroes were Reginald Fessenden and Alpheus Drinkwater. He lodged with Keith Fearing and his family in Manteo: “I hung around with all the Fearing boys. They ran Manteo. It was hot summertime and there was the causeway over to Whalebone, so we did a lot of swimming on the beach.” Looking at him from across the table as we have lunch together, I try unsuccessfully to imagine this snowy white man with a tan. His retirement facility’s dining room is both opulent and spacious, but when I mention that I neglected to bring my wallet from the car, he says, “Your money’s no good here.” As we wait to be served, I hand him the souvenir program I have with me. A sweet smile instantly emerges, his eyes narrowing as the toothy grin spreads across his ancient face. I never knew his father, who died two years before I first did the show, but from old photographs I can tell he has his father’s eyes. “This brings back a lot of memories,” he says gently as he slowly turns the pages. The program is from this year, not 1941, but that seems to make no difference to him.

N C L R ONLINE

75

it is definitely the sort of book that anyone who has been part of The Lost Colony production would want. It is also the sort of book that someone like me might buy as a souvenir, having sat in The Lost Colony audience more than once on family vacations to the Outer Banks. And for academics, it is a source that should be reviewed when writing about Paul Green’s script to keep in mind that The Lost Colony is a production, not just a script. n

“I remember at home as a boy when my dad was working on writing the play: One afternoon my mother said, ‘Go fetch Doogie and tell him –’” “Doogie?” I ask, cutting him off. “That’s what the family called him. We in the family. She didn’t call him Paul, she called him Doogie. My mother told me to ‘go fetch Doogie and tell him dinner is ready,’ so I went to the little office where he was working on writing the play and I said something to him, but he hurled back some angry retort, because I had interrupted him, and I quipped, ‘What’s the matter, Dad? Still can’t find ’em?’” Over sandwiches, he talks between bites about trips down to the island. His memory is good, but he tires easily and wants to keep our interview down to an hour, so I ask him about traveling from Chapel Hill to Manteo: “To get to Manteo, we drove to Elizabeth City. We recited the play to each other word for word on the drive down. And there was no road at all below Whalebone; it was just sand. There was nothing down there all the way to Hatteras.” Then a fresh memory hits him. “I helped Dad with the music. I was his assistant when we drove up to DC to do research in the Library of Congress. Dad read music, and I did a little, so he ensconced me in a back room and brought me sheet music, saying, ‘copy this’ and ‘copy that.’ He was pulling out all these public domain English folk songs.” Then he adds, “I was his Xerox machine.” My hour is up, so we walk back to his rooms. As we walk, he asks to see the program again; when I ask him if he would like one for himself, he immediately says yes, giving me his mailing address. “I could drop it off,” I say. “That might interfere with my new vocation,” he replies, and I remember that I woke him twice in the middle of the day to arrange our lunch. n

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.

Advertisement