One Blue Tarp
After pondering a subject as heavy as the use of children as
soldiers I felt like I needed a break from serious. I'd heard a lot
about a play, One Blue Tarp, that had premiered down the road in
Bangor at the Penobscot Theater Company. I'd picked up the book at
Orono Public Library. It seemed like the perfect breather.
David Stillman is a plaid shirt and plain jeans (wouldn't be
caught dead in Hollisters) kind of guy. He has just bought a new blue
tarp to cover the pile of odds and ends he has stashed in his yard.
He's guarding that tarp with his life. A new town ordinance has
banned blue tarps in people's yards.
His nemesis, Gale Pritchard, a wealthy widow "from away" has
settled down in his small town. She believes that if the people can
be persuaded to see the error of their ways and gussy up their living
spaces Clara can become a tourist destination like Camden and
Belfast. Eventually it can be the site of "points of light" such as a
winter carnival and a literary festival. The elimination of eyesores
has been the first step in her campaign.
Despite being a wicked funny comedy, One Blue Tarp also calls
attention to a very controversial topic in today's Maine: who knows
what is best for the state's future. It's epitomized in the ongoing
conflict between proponants and opponants of a North Woods park that
would preserve forest land for future generations but limit or
eliminate traditional uses. Those who would gentrify the state to
bring in more people and money are up against long term residents who
feel threatened by the loss of what they consider their traditional
way of life. Whose state is it anyway?
Gale admits toward the end that it's about more than a very
prosaic and commonplace object. When, in a town meeting, David tells
her people just want to have choices rather than mandates, she exclaims,
"Choice! Look at the choices you people make. Look at what you eat.
Look at where you live. Look at what you watch on tv. Look at the
video games you let your children play. Trash! All of it trash and
you just want to cover it up with your stupid tarps!"
As funny as it is to read, it would be great to see in the flesh
or to put on. With a small cast and sparse setting it wouldn't be all
that hard to direct. If anyone in the environs of Veazie takes me up
on this good advice, I'm in the right demographics for David's wife
and Gale. Just saying.
On a personal note, I just went and got my flu shot, the pricier one
that supposedly protects me from four strains. Not that I really need
it. But with my popularity with both toddler and vintage sets and the
fact that I volunteer at the Orono Public Library, I could otherwise
become Influenza Jules. We want the only thing contagious about me to
be my personality. Of course I bought rum raisin ice cream to prevent
adverse side effects, a strategy that obviously worked.
A great big shout out goes out to the many people like my beloved
husband who, though nowhere near David on the curmudgeon scale, feel
angered by changes that threaten more traditional life styles.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod