Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Return of an Angel"

In the category of where I truly wish I could be this weekend: I am longing to be at any one of the performances of Return of an Angel, a play about Asheville native and renowned American novelist Thomas Wolfe.

The play is being put on by the Occasional Theatre at the Asheville Community Theatre, in conjunction with other activities marking the Thomas Wolfe Festival.

My paternal grandparents George and Lola Love McCoy were good friends of Thomas Wolfe. They encouraged him in his work -- my grandmother, in fact, wrote what I believe was the only positive review of Look Homeward, Angel in the region when the book first came out (most folks native to Asheville were incensed by the candid way in which Wolfe had exposed the frailties and foibles of a number of townspeople, only thinly disguised as characters).

And my grandparents are in the play. The roles are small, but they are actual characters. The man playing my grandfather got in touch with my parents, wanting to learn as much as he could about Papaw. He's a terrifically gracious person and has been emailing our family with updates about rehearsals. If you go to the page with character profiles, you'll see photos of my grandparents next to photos of the actors playing them. (My Mamaw would have been thrilled by the beauty of the lady playing her, I think!) The little boy on my grandfather's lap in that photo is my Dad.

My grandparents are very close to my heart. I never knew my Papaw, but I certainly feel as though I did, mostly because my Mamaw lived the last five years of her life at our home in Virginia, from the time I was nine until I was fourteen. She told lots of stories. Those were formative years for me, and I will always be grateful for her influence in my life. I've also spent a lot of time in the intervening years talking to my parents about their parents, and also doing a good bit of research into our family history. I was able to trace my Mamaw's line back about ten generations to Ireland.

It's all very exciting, and you can see why I'm longing to be at the play. I felt like I came tantalizingly close to being able to go.

We're all thrilled that my beloved oldest sister is going, however. We can't wait to hear back from her with a full review. She's already heard from the playwright, and she'll get to meet her and also some of the cast on Saturday night. Once I get a full report, I hope I will be able to post again...and I hope the official website for play will post some performance pictures!


Erin said...

Oh, how cool! That's really interesting, and your sister must be getting a real kick out of seeing the play. I know what you mean about your grandpa; mine died when Nathan was just a few months old, but I think that he feels like he knows him through us. If he'd been around, they would've had so much in common... Hope the play is a succees!

Beth said...

I haven't talked with my sister yet, at least not since she got back. She just got home a few hours ago and is probably sleeping all day, trying to recover from the trip. But I hear from my folks that she found it a grand experience!

I can relate to Nathan. So many of the things my grandfather loved (especially history and writing) are loves of mine too. I think we would have been close.

Has Nathan's play been performed yet?