Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jason Nemec: Another Voice from my Ozark Past

South Pacific

Back in June this year, I found a blog comment from an old high school friend, Jason "Jay" Nemec, a man whom I hadn't seen since the summer of 1976 in my Ozark hometown, as I recalled to him in a subsequent email:
The last time that I saw you was at a rodeo in Salem, and you were wearing a cowboy hat. I've often wondered what you did with yourself after that.
Jay found that amusing and wrote back:
LOL . . . I still have a cowboy hat as well as several pairs of boots, my chaps, and spurs from my rodeo days. I am more into golf and theater these days. Am currently in rehearsals to play Captain Brackett in "South Pacific," and am on the Board of Producers for our local theater company. Got involved with the theater about 14 years ago when my oldest was in some shows, and have now been in or part of almost 20 productions.
What a surprise! I wrote to let him know:
The acting that you mention is . . . unexpected, though not because I ever thought you unartistic. I just never thought about that with respect to any of us!
By "us," I meant "hillbillies like me." Anyway, in a follow-up email sometime later, Jay informed me:
Our play opens next week. We have three weekends of shows, Thursday - Sunday, beginning July 29th, ending August 15th . . . . Our Director is panicking a bit because we still have a lot of set work to do, as well as getting all of the props in place. In fact, I am taking off work this afternoon to get a few things done.
I was happy for Jay but sorry that his tight schedule meant that he wouldn't be able to make a visit to Salem during my time there, nor did I have the wheels for rolling to Rogers, Arkansas, over in the northwestern part of the Ozarks. The farthest west that I got was Mountain Home, Arkansas. Upon my return to Seoul from the Ozarks, I discovered this email from Jay:
Here are links to pictures from our production of the play "South Pacific." The first link has pictures from the entire show. If you choose to view these and are asked for a password, just type in rlt, which stands for Rogers Little Theater. The second link is me yelling at Bloody Mary, the local Tonkinese matron who sells grass skirts and "slunken" heads to the troops.
I asked Jay for permission to post the photo from the second link, and he had no objection, but I discovered that this wasn't possible with the images from the Old Hat Studio website, so I've simply linked as he did. If you click on that second link above -- and you'll probably have to type in "rlt" (standing for "Rogers Little Theater," but also for "real . live . theatre") -- you'll see a tall Captain Brackett bearing down on a short 'Bloody Mary' who appears entirely capable of standing up to him.

Jay mentions the Rogers Little Theater, so I looked up the website, which provided the image for today's blog entry. I also found that the performance took place in the Victory Theater, which dates to 1927 as "the first motion picture theater in Northwest Arkansas." It has since been revived as a stage theater, apparently.

Both websites, the Old Hat Studio website and the Rogers Little Theater website, look interesting, and I feel rather proud to learn of Jay's drama career . . . though I, of course, played no role in that.

I failed to find any reviews, but the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Online noted the upcoming production.

At any rate, congratulations, Jay, and I hope to see you in a performance some day.

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At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Jay Nemec said...

Jeff - Thank you for the blog and even providing the links. The pictures of the pilot and nurse on the poster are the great-grandparents of one of the cast members, Rob Swearigen, who were actually stationed in the South Pacific during WWII.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jay, you're welcome -- and thanks for the added details.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since you brought up your latest visit, I want to say that we enjoyed our brief visits with you and the family.
Sorry that we were having such a battle with head and chest colds, that limited our time with y'all.
Also, I have relented, and want to assure you that we will be happy to treat you guys to a restaurant meal at least one more time on your next visit.
That could even extend to future visits, depending on how you treat me on your blog.


At 3:17 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, we enjoyed seeing you and Aunt Gay, too, and hope to have many more occasions for visiting.

As for my blogging, it will treat you with the kind consideration that you've always received.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Between the words "...kind consideration {that you've always received}", it seems you should have added two simple letters.
The phrase would have more accurately stated "kind of consideration..."
This would have caused some ambiguity on the meaning to other readers, but starkly clear to me.


At 6:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Seems clear anyway, Dear Uncle.

Jeffery Hodges

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