Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brunswick, GA: Gifts and Goodbyes

"the greatest reward is when individual people say that the film was meaningful to them...”

Day 10: November 21st BRUNSWICK, GA: Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association

On the final destination of our tour, we arrived at The Ritz Theatre in the Historic District of Brunswick, GA. The Ritz was opened in 1898 to house the Grand Opera House, which according to our host Heather Heath, mostly showed vaudeville. In the 1930s it became a movie palace and its name was changed to The Ritz Theatre. The screening was well-attended, with 60 people in the audience. At the question and answer session, one man asked, “What sorts of awards or acclaim have you received for this film?” Scott’s answer was, “For me personally, the greatest reward is when individual people say that it was meaningful to them.” Next a woman asked, “What is bubble tea?” Scott explained that the bubbles are made of tapioca. The tea is either green or black iced tea, sometimes containing condensed or powdered milk. Often, a flavor such as peach or almond is also added. Bubble tea is especially popular among young people.

Another audience member brought up the following question: “You said that tea is a lifestyle… What is your hope for that lifestyle?” Scott responded, “It is my hope that tea can provide an alternative to fast-paced modern life. By spending quality time with another person or spending time alone, it can allow you to connect with your path in life. Tea is unique in that it can both stimulate and soothe you.” Following this question, Scott revealed the meaning of the Chinese characters at the end of the film. The first character at the top means TEA, and the character directly underneath it means TAO. So this can translate to “the way of tea” or “the spirit of tea”. For further reading, he recommended The Book of Tea.

As the audience poured out of the theater, we had stimulating discussion with a charming character who had his own “tea studio” in Savannah but no advertising, website, etc. He said that people who come to have tea with him always learn about his space through word of mouth. He even gave the director a gift of an extraordinary Pu’er. We mingled with the audience for another half hour before finally packing up our remaining DVDs and soundtrack CDs for the last time, saying goodbye to Heather, and heading out to St. Simons Island for a look at the ocean before heading home to New York.

Scott and I want to extend our deepest gratitude to Allen Bell and everyone who worked with him on the Southern Circuit tour, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. This has been an invaluable experience for us, and I hope that over the years more artists will be able to have similar experiences with interacting directly with their audiences, the people we seek to simultaneously entertain and inform.