Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday, 12 June 2008 - Outdoor theater in the Bluegrass

Tuesday evening, the 10th, we went to the first outdoor theater in Kentucky, Pioneer Playhouse, to see "Leading Ladies." It's a Shakespearian-type farce about two actors who impersonate a rich woman's nieces in order to gain her inheritance. Funny, great audience participation, good acting. Pioneer Playhouse was founded 59 years ago as a small, local theater. Over the years, it has hosted such actors as John Travolta and Lee Majors (who got their starts here), and many others as well. It was host to Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Lee Marvin and Eva Marie Saint when the movie Raintree County was filmed in Danville. The current director, Robbie Henson, son of the founder, Eben Henson, auditions talent in New York in the winter and spring, and brings the ensemble cast to Danville for the summer. If you know of anyone who would be interested in spending a summer in Danville, honing the acting craft, tell him/her about this great opportunity. Not much money, but 10 weeks of acting experience in the Bluegrass.

One of the next plays there, "Death by Darkness," is a murder mystery about Charles Dickens's supposed visit to Mammoth Cave. It was based on a local legend, and written by a Danville native. Can't wait to see that one!

On the grounds of the theater, Eben Henson has recreated his version of a pioneer village. Frankly, it's interesting, but not too accurate, except for the log cabin on site. The cabin originally came from the Forkland community (only a few miles from here), and was used in the filming of Robby Henson's Pharoah's Army, in 1995, then it was dismantled and moved piece by piece to Pioneer Playhouse. Just because it is a real log cabin, it IS an accurate version of a typical Kentucky log cabin of period from 1774 through the mid 1800's, and later in some parts of the state. Many of these were simply added onto, or covered over, and actually serve as the physical basis for many present-day houses in Kentucky.

We were told a story when we were living in Butchertown, that Kris Kristofferson, one of the stars, was jogging down Butchertown Road when one of our neighbors offered him a ride.

Inside pictures show exactly how sparse living conditions were. These people didn't have much, yet they managed to survive and build communities, cities, and a state, out of what was then wilderness. One wonders how people today would fare under these circumstances.

The log cabin in which Lincoln was born would have looked very much like this one, unlike the "replica" that is located inside the "temple" at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace memorial. That building is made up of logs from dozens of Kentucky cabins, simply assembled to "look like" the Lincoln cabin. The one at Pioneer Playhouse could well have been the cabin in which Lincoln's step-grandmother lived.

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