Saturday, April 28, 2012

Proctor News

After dating my husband for a several months, he took me home to meet his family in Westville, OK. It was in these first trips out to see them that I discovered the Westville Reporter, and soon after I discovered my muse, Myrtle Kindle. She wrote a small column for an even smaller nearby community called Proctor, OK. The column was called "Proctor News".

Amy Beaver playing Myrtle in "The House"

Myrtle covers the spectrum of the human condition. She reports the comings and goings of small town experience. She counts the flora and fauna of the region. She counts the seasons with caution and awe.

She calls to God often, but mostly in quick prayers for mankind. This is all the news.

The Westville Reporter-
"Dedicated to the Proposition That What You Don't Know Can Hurt You." (I'm dead serious.)

These papers are sacred to me. I have been toting them around for years. I am devoutly endeared to Myrtle. She is very special to me. She leads with her heart. She is vulnerable, but courageous, and so dedicated to giving "the news" to her communities. My collection of papers range from 1987 to 2005. I think she wrote for so many years because was obsessed with her community. She seems to love just about everyone. She uses the language of the Bible, but doesn't alienate me with her Church Talk (I am unversed), instead I lean into the rhythm of her language—her Myrtle Meter. Her run- ons satisfy me. The way she won't start a new paragraph with a new thought blurs the images and creates, for me, deep meaning and meditation. She does the thing that poetry does: it holds you still to look closer, word by word.

Saw Jack and Louse and talked with them for a while.

You know, her sister had lost a son.

One thing nice, it wasn’t very hot.

Last week there was plenty.

Everything comes in gushes.

It is raining at my house, but not much.

She reports on who she ran into at Walmart, who wasn't at church; whose grandson was home from college, and who is going back to the hospital. She dwells on sickness so much until she gets sick herself, but resolves to pray about it. All this she writes in her column with staunch and cracking duty. She does this weekly from 1987-2005. She keeps the list going. She is keeping track of her people. You can feel her sense of obligation and to her community. You can feel her love.

I worked with this piece first in House, a performance about place and identity staged in a residential house. I worked with a wonderful actress, Amy Beaver, who helped me find the rhythm of the language. We created a performance at a kitchen table. Amy loved Myrtle too, and connected on a personal level. She knew women like Myrtle from her childhood in a small town.

In Alley 38, Myrtle is played by Kathy McGregor. Kathy is a professional storyteller with a diverse and deep list of life experiences ranging from Hospice Nurse, to union organizer and advocate. She is playing Myrtle in Alley 38. Together we are "writing" the piece. We are editing and selecting the succinct and sensitive moments to share in the performance.

And so the second part of Myrtle's place in The Place Project begins. Next time you can find her in Alley 38.

Kathy McGregor, storyteller

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