I am a writer, most of you know that, and while I write many different things, I always return to the old west. I grew up watching westerns with my father. It was something we did. He was also a fan of western novels, Louis Lamour being his favorite and I read them all because of him. The old west is a comfortable place to me.
When my father's health began to fail, I rushed to finish SARAGOSA so that he could read a western written for him. I am happy to say he enjoyed it and was proud of his oldest boy. If that had been the end of it, I would have been happy.
But that was not where the SARAGOSA journey ended. A small production company optioned my even smaller book with plans to turn it into a feature film. Finding financial backers for a western has proven to be difficult and so the movie process creeps forward at a pace even a snail could beat. If that had been the end of it, I would have been happy.
In 2012, I spoke with my old high school about doing a staged reading of the script. To my delight, they were interested. I asked the producer from the production company who'd optioned my book if he could become involved to help work with the students, giving them practical guidance and direction.
In February 2013, I was honored to be a part of SARAGOSA: The Stage Production. Seventeen students took on the daunting task of putting a performance together in only three and a half weeks. Stop and think about that for a minute. A normal play takes months of preparation and rehearsals to pull off. The students at Northview High School did it in three and a half weeks! They had a total of eight rehearsals. They'd been told that they could carry their scripts with them on stage during the performance, but on opening night, not a single one of them used the scripts, they had memorized a 62 page script!
Six months ago, I didn't know any of these fine, young actors, nor did they know me. SARAGOSA wasn't on their radar. But now I feel like they are all a part of my extended family. These days I have nearly twenty new friends, like neices and nephews I never knew I had.
We all bonded during those crazy weeks leading up to the performance. There is a term, Brotherhood by Fire. It describes a group of people who bond over an intense shared experience. That is what we had. There were long hours and curve balls thrown at us the entire time, but in the end, these amazing kids, my new extended family shined like the superstars they are. I am honored to have gotten to know them.
No matter where the SARAGOSA journey goes from here, no matter who may play those characters in the film version, these young actors did it first, and theirs are the faces I will see when I think of the characters from SARAGOSA. If this is the end of it, I will be happy.
The movie production is a go! The production company is working full steam to bring my traditional western to life...stay tuned to this blog as I chronicle that journey!