BWW Blog: A Fondest Farewell

June 10
6:48 AM 2014

BWW Blog: A Fondest Farewell

There is no ceremony in the packing up and loading up and transfer of these items that have come to define the office surroundings of Tennessee Shakespeare Company.

Our office has become a sacred space, like the spaces that ultimately make our environmental theatres in and around Memphis.

We live in the historic train depot in Germantown, Tennessee. The original building was constructed in 1858. It burned down after surviving the War and was re-built as it stands now in 1948.

It sat empty for years before we asked the City to rent it to us for $1 per year in exchange for upkeep and docent service. It has always been too small, but we held years of 20-member Board meetings at plastic tables in the back loading room. It has never been air-tight, but it has kept us dry. My desk sits 20 feet from the nearly 30 trains a day that pass by us, but we have learned to hear the engine coming and tell the patron on the other end of the phone that our conversation would soon be pleasantly interrupted by a coal train moving at 45 mph with over 50 cars attached.

I have met many old men who worked the line through the years. They usually came through on a Sunday afternoon and told me more about the Depot than literature can describe.

I remember every person who has worked here since 2008. I remember our building the first bookcases, mopping the first time, cleaning the toilet many times, and the first revelation that our front rooms each with similar front doors were once segregated ticketing lobbies. I remember the first time we were able make wireless technology work in the space. It felt like the clock in Julius Caesar. We were on laptops, plastic tables, and borrowed furniture - still are.

If a person doesn't love trains, close quarters, history, hard floors, and wood rafters, this is not the place. But we do love them, and we are grateful to those who built it, re-using rail spikes and timber from the original burned building that saw blood spilled and a nation much different from ours today. Men died around here.

It's an important piece of land that has served many uses in its life and afterlife. For us, it helped birth a classical theatre in my hometown and helped us create in safe and imaginative confines. Indeed, the Depot is my Fenway Park: we may add seats over the Green Monster but we'll never change the footprint of the high left field wall nor the short drive to Pesky's Pole in right field.

We love our birth home, and in many ways I hate to have to depart it at the City's insistence. But TSC 's trajectory has a higher arc now, and I know we helped re-birth the historic structure. We hope it will remain open and even prosper with a welcoming door to all who pass down Germantown Road. We will always memorialize its care of us in everything we create. As with every host home we go in as guests, we hope we leave it in better shape than we found it.

The Depot is more than an office for me. It is a sacred space, and we bless this house.

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Guest Blogger: Dan McCleary Dan McCleary is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South’s professional, classical theatre and education organization based in Memphis.  Dan has made a living as a classical stage actor, Shakespeare master teacher, producer, artist-manager, and stage director around the country for 25 years. Memphis Magazine named him among the “Who’s Who in Memphis” each year from 2009-12, and the Germantown Arts Alliance honored him with its 2009 Distinguished Arts and Humanities Medal for Performing Arts.  Dan is a published poet, and he holds a B.A. in Advertising and Journalism from Temple University.  Dan is the proud father of three-year-old twin boys, Sullivan and Collins.


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