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The Wheel and Whoever Invented It
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Some years ago, I was directing a regional theater production of The Little Shop of Horrors, that delightful small but busy musical centered around a giant flesh-eating plant named Audrey II. The particular theater i helped nurture through many seasons of popular productions – the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia – had an ingenious prop and scenery shop, filled with theater artisans who could and did solve many production problems, and one of their favorite sayings, when confronted with a complex and seemingly impossible stage element to solve would collectively say: “This wheel has already been invented: let’s call them and see how they solved it!” Because some theater, somewhere, would have inevitably already done a production of Little Shop, or whatever show needed stage magic, and helpful hints were always welcome.

**How to make that particular chair disappear in Act One? Totally disappear, with no warning.
**How to transform the Beast into a beautiful perfect twirling Prince at the end of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, without breaking every bone in his body while he changes out of one character into another above our enthralled heads?
**How to make that turntable not stall in Act Two?
**How to make the most wonderful and hideous yet efficient flesh- eating plant named Audrey?

No respectable theater craftsmen would want to rent the other theater’s solution outright, because each artist wants to solve creative problems their way, but the truth is, generally speaking in life; people HAVE done this before. It’s ALL been done before.

As a young girl, after being told in a rather sketchy and perspiring manner, the facts of life, i used to sit on public transportation vehicles, like city busses, etc. and look at women and think: THEY’VE done it, that sex thing….i wonder how THEY felt??? WILL I EVER DO IT? If so, then HOW and WHEN and WITH WHO?

And now, I look around and realize how many people have actually departed this earth before me: They’ve done THAT before…so it must be something I can do too. Dying cannot be harder than making an intricate stage prop work smoothly. The magic of theater dictates that all difficulties look like solved miracles on Opening Night.

I’d like to think of Death as yet another stage problem to simply get advice on and solve.

After all……it has been done before.

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