Saturday, October 20, 2007

Beaufort

Garrison here. Last night I screened THIRD WARD TX in Beaufort. I drove from Columbia to Beaufort in the aftermath of a light rain, windows open, on Rt 21 and I-95. Memories spring to mind like a muscle stimulated by an electric current. The humidity, the soft quality of the air instantly passed the thinking part of my brain, triggering images and sudden emotions. What is it about sense memories that are so direct, so intense? A scent, the feel of the air, a sound or certain song, can contract time and space. I was driving on the road in South Carolina and acutely conscious of afternoons driving around Alligator Alley in then-rural western Broward County, Florida. Those cow pastures and orange groves paved over for more tract houses long ago and my driving companion died three years ago. Strange thoughts swirling around when I arrived at my first stop.

Bluffton High School. This has go to be the toughest audience for a the “visiting artist.” First of all , the main reason they are there is because they can get out of class. They haven’t selected to be there and have no reason to show a visitor any special respect. Second, teenage years are such a difficult time. Make the wrong move, laugh at the wrong thing, show enthusiasm for something everyone else might think is weird and suddenly you are an outcast. Better to not show any response and see what the others do.

Plus, I really liked most of the people I filmed and it shows. The film wants you to like them, too. Even the lady with the Rhinestone glasses holding her little dog in her arms—she cuts a slightly absurd picture but we still like her. Is it okay to laugh?

They didn’t laugh much, but they watched carefully, a good sign with high school students. Had their attention. The discussion after was pretty good. They wanted to show me their films and I wish they had them there. I was sorry not to see them. It would have been a good talk.

Beaufort is beautiful and felt very well cared for by my hosts. I managed to get a 15-minute beach visit on Hunting Island. Outstanding. The evening felt like something that might have happened if we were having a house party showing of the film. Many of the people in the audience knew each other and there were even technical issues. Charles, the technician working the theater that night, made a work around and we got to watch the movie. No problem tonight with people worried about showing their enthusiasm. One particularly gratifying response was from a Mr. Scott, a former Third Ward resident. He thought it got the picture of Third Ward right.