A photo links four fatesOn September 16, 2020 by Jeremy Jagusch
Last week I wrote briefly about the photo above. As I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on things lately, this seems like the perfect time to go into the story of that photo. I had written previously about a photo I took at the first show of our first season. That blog can be found here . The photo above was taken on the opposite end of our first season. Our last show took place at Matheson House in Perth, Ontario.
Getting to this day was an odd journey in itself. For myself, it was show three, but for Jasmine and Joshua, it was show six. They had gone down to our neighbours in the south and performed two shows there, making us an international company in our first year. By this point of the season, we were all still growing into our skill-set. At the time I acted as the show manager before retiring from the road. These days team members such as the hard working Jackie Mahoney have gone on to perfect the role (and do a far better job than I ever could have), but in those early days, it was just us.
I’m sure going into our performance of Mary’s Odyssey involved a range of emotions for us all…..Josh the intrepid show designer checking and rechecking everything. Myself following behind learning all I could. Both of us doing what we could to try to ensure things ran smoothly. Jasmine, our Mary and original star preparing for her last show of the season. Her co-star, the incomparable Rick Cousin, was playing Arthur Matheson, the lord of the manor, was probably wondering what he got himself into (wait until you hear the time in year 2 he chased a handcar down a track in 30 degree weather for a show…)
Rick was a relatively new addition to the team at that time. He wasn’t just new to the company but he was new to our circle. Josh, Jasmine and I had known each other professionally and personally for years at this point. Even our previous actor Jeff had known and worked with us for years. Rick was the first outside actor we’d worked within our short history. He had initially joined us for our shows at Laurier House in which he played former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. Like Jasmine, Rick is one of those actors whom no matter how many times I watch perform I’m always as engaged as I was the first time. I don’t think it can be overstated by how much of a huge part of the early foundation of Live History’s History Rick was.
As each show went on you could see the comfort level growing in our wonderful lead actors. No matter how much you know a role, no two shows are the same, especially in terms of interactive site-specific theatre. During every performance, there is a long list of variables that can change the direction of the performance in a heartbeat.
At some point between shows, Jasmine had suggested that we take some promo photos. Josh was holding down the fort while Jasmine, Rick and I took a tour of the house in search of a good spot. This shot above was chosen shortly after to appear on our website.
We performed our last show of the day and it was awesome. Not just the performances themselves, but the wave that came over us all. I’m sure we all felt it differently. My clearest memory of that day is Jasmine turning to me after our last show wrapped and the guests were gone. She had tears in her eyes and hugged me. “We did it!” were the words that fell from her lips. All of this, the shows, the website, the staff, the merchandise all stemmed from an idea. A single idea that drove not only her but Joshua, Jeff, Rick and myself forward. What started with a conversation on the phone turned into the aftermath of 6 shows, in 6 venues, taking place 2 countries. Six venues that had taken a chance on a new company. I can’t imagine the amount of pride and dare I say relief that she felt. I would say that I’m sure she couldn’t imagine the growth that was to come…but she probably had it all planned out already and was waiting until we weren’t too tired to tell us. (Note: Jasmine’s drive and passion continues to both exhaust us, thrill us and grow this company everyday, even in year 7. It’s a force to be reckoned with.)
For myself, it was a feeling of shock and pride. I was then and am incredibly proud to be a part of Live History. I never would have imagined this is where we would be when I answered that phone call.
When we left that venue, we had all grown throughout the first season, both as people and professionals in our industry. We learned more about each other as performers and friends. Which each performance, things had been refined in the script and performances.
That’s not to say we all didn’t leave the venue with a feeling variety of emotions. There was relief sure, a feeling of relief that life on the road is over for a moment. There was also a feeling of uncertainty and dare I say a tinge of sadness. As we all travelled to our homes, we were just hoping for a season two. Eternally chasing the question of “what’s next”. By sadness, I mean specifically the knowledge that at least for the moment this is over and we had our fingers crossed for the future. Who we were 7 years ago is not the same people we are today…but at the same time, we still maintain that spark, that excitement, that everlasting hope of creating something new, telling great stories and experiencing what comes next together. We’re 20+ strong now, scattered all over the world, instead of 4 or 5, but it still feels like a family; creating our own legacy connected to the legacies of the amazing stories we get to tell.
When I think back, that day was best summed up for me in the words of Winston Churchill:
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Thank you as always for reading. Please be sure to check out this space next week. We’ll see you in the past.