Peter Weir (YGtCTO #129)


Directed by Peter Weir
Written by William Kelley and Pamela Wallace & Earl W. Wallace

I needed a job for the summer. Having been accepted into the graduate play-writing program, I quickly realized that the summer theater series at the university needed to fill all sorts of jobs. None of them was playwright. I had run the publicity department the previous summer, so I was not an unknown entity. That meant that the powers that ran the summer series knew I worked hard and really knew zero about theater. I auditioned to act which went very badly as soon as they asked me to sing.

The job hirings were posted and I remember seeing my name listed before I could read anything else. I was shocked that I was going to be an actor. Of course, I was not, but I still had no idea what I was hired to do. It said something about working in the shop. It paid pretty well,so I was happy. The program was designed to include a couple classes, so I was set.

Peter Weir

My first day involved cleaning all the hardware used for assembling stages. I don’t know how long it took, but the technical director for the summer, Dan Denhart, took pity on me after a while. As it turned out, the powers that be thought that I could use a crash course in theater making. They were so right. Over a lot of long days, Dan schooled me in carpentry and lighting. I discovered an affinity for making stuff with big tools that has never departed.

There is nothing

quite like working on a large undertaking with many people to given an appreciation for the effort involved on all sides. Years and years ago, the art section of one of the big Sunday papers featured an article by their classical music critic. He had just returned from accompanying a local orchestra on an Asian tour. The gist of the article was that the critic had begun having second thoughts about the criticisms that he had voiced in the past. Now that he had seen all the hours and hours of hard work that went into that brief time before an audience, he wondered if it was not a miracle that we ended up with anything listenable at all.

I was fortunate that I had the opportunity to work in the shop that summer- doubly so with someone like Dan. The thing is that the lessons learned translate to all arts (and the rest of life for that matter).

Back then, our side exit from the shop let out on an alley that terminated on the main street through town. Athens was home to two cinemas. Late in the summer, we knocked off early one night and went to the late show. I don’t know how a crew of young men chose Witness, but we went.

For the first time in my life, I saw the seams in a work of art. That’s not a knock. I think every budding artist needs that moment when they sit back stunned at how a thing is put together. It helps if that work of art is created by a master like Peter Weir. Since then, I’ve seen most all of his films and never stopped being blown away.

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 171 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

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