Sunday, August 10, 2008

Taking A Walk On The Dramatic Side

Yesterday we had the Tour Guides and House Managers out for walk around downtown Elgin. We were getting a lay-of-the-land and seeing how everything would flow when we had an actual audience.

I have to say, I was pleased everything went so smoothly and we had some excellent suggestions.

However, one thing struck me throughout all this, and I talked about it briefly with Nancy Guthrie, who is one of our guides.

Just walking through the downtown is an adventure. Seeing the old buildings, new buildings, cracked sidewalks, new streets, empty and filled storefronts, reminds you of what is happening here. Or rather what happened and how it is trying to change – for the better. “It’s actually pretty cool,” Nancy said.

PHOTO: This is Du Page Court, where the Alley of Art will be along with live music. This is best viewed from on top of the hill by Dundee Avenue.

Upon entering the various venues where plays will be performed, our group received some curious looks. People kept saying: “What’s going on?” There seemed to be a little excitement generated by our collective presence.

Of course, there will be some challenges to our Walk, like the uneven pavement between sidewalks and storefront entrances, or the Chicago Street sidewalk, which currently is under construction. Oh, it can be navigated; you just have to walk single-file. I think Erin Conroy said we might “need a rope, so everyone could stay connected.”

That didn’t stop one person, who came out of Elgin Books proclaiming it to be “a great place with lots of atmosphere.”

“Did you pay him to say that, Sean,” someone said in our group. “I never saw him in my life,” I said.

That guy must be onto something, because all of this construction can be celebrated when you get to the top of the hill at Du Page Court and Dundee Avenue. From there, you look down and see where the Alley of Art will be, right next to Al’s Café. Last year, this area was ripped apart. But now, it’s very appealing with new streets, freshly planted trees, and wide sidewalks. It’s a nice site and hopefully everyone will appreciate it in when they get to that point of the Walk.

Later, after finishing the practice walk before the real walk next week, Vex Theatre began rehearsing their play “Netherlands” in Ravenheart Café. The Daily Herald showed up to take some photos. According to Cathleen Ann of Vex, people outside were stopped in their tracks, wondering what was going in the café. They were curious and excited, so Cathleen gave them some postcards.

And that’s the kind of reaction we want. From the guides to the walkers, to the pedestrians and the business owners, we want them all to be curious and excited. “We’re all very psyched about this,” Cathleen said. Well, so am I.

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