Thursday, August 21, 2008

The People of Spruce Pine are Stupid?

I've never been to Spruce Pine, North Carolina, but for the record, I'm sure it's a beautiful place full of caring, intelligent citizens. Whether or not they are musical theatre fans remains to be seen if the spate of video comments in response to the "VioletBlog" video episodes (which would later become the basis for "Call-Back") documenting my production of "Violet" is any indication. Despite the fact that I directed this intimate and touching Jeanine Tesori musical well over a year ago, and posted the "VioletBlog" videos then as well, I recently have been contacted by a couple caring, if not downright vexed Spruce Pine natives.

Seems as though Episode #2 titled "The People of Spruce Pine" which opens with a line from the opening song of the show about Spruce Pinians being less than enlightened ("Stupid...the people of Spruce Pine are stupid...") has said citizenry madder'n' a stick-poked hornets nest! (sorry...couldn't resist!) In fact I was even contacted by a local Spruce Pine newspaper today asking for my input for a story about the show and its connection to Spruce Pine!! I'll let you know if and when the story comes out, but in the meantime here is one exchange between a concerned S.P. native and me about the show:

(From mackenzieb97:)
What's the deal with saying that the people of Spruce Pine are stupid?!? That's like saying that everyone in Kentucky are inbreds and barefoot hillbillies. I got news for you. There are as many ignorant people where you're at than where I'm at. Not many "hicks" have 8+ years of college. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Not sure why it's taken mackenzieb97 8 years to get through college, but here was my response:

Hi! I completely agree with you and understand your frustration. Being born and raised here in Cleveland, which has been the butt of jokes ever since I can remember, I sympathize. I'm sure Spruce Pine is a beautiful place with brilliant citizens. In fact, I just was contacted by a local paper there to talk about "Violet" since it talks about Spruce Pine so I look forward to explaining this to them as well.

The sentiments about the people of Spruce Pine are certainly not mine - I don't know if you're familiar with the show or not, but in terms of the "the people of Spruce Pine are stupid"'d really have to ask the author of the book the musical is based on "The Ugliest Pilgrim" by Doris Betts. The Musical's composer - Jeanine Tesori used the author's words in her songs. That line is simply one line in the opening song sung by the main character who is a native of Spruce Pine and is complaining about her neighbors who have basically made her an outcast ever since she was accidentally scarred as a young girl. Anyone who has ever had dreams of escaping their home town in pursuit of a dream (no matter how crazy that dream may seem) can sympathize with Violet's thoughts.
Thanks for getting in touch. - Geoff

There is no doubt that "Violet" is a very provocative piece of theatre as it deals with issues of faith, racism, physical beauty vs. inner beauty and more. In fact I did receive one downright hateful letter from a very unenlightened audience member who in his rant came just short of screaming that his main problem with the show was the fact that the couple who falls in love in the end is an interracial one. Strangely enough, this guy also managed to stay through the entire show! I say, if people are talking about this wonderful piece of theatre and are becoming aware of it (which indeed was the whole point of "VioletBlog" and "Call-Back" in the first place), then the People of Spruce Pine are probably a whole lot smarter than any of us thought!

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