My dear friends Deb and Denise braved a wicked winter storm to fly from New Brunswick, Canada, to spend a few days with me two weeks after my brain surgery. They brought wonderful coffee and other gifts from Acadie. They cooked gorgeous, healthful food and took me on outings (since I wasn't yet cleared to drive). They even tried to repair my dishwasher. In spite of a call to Deb's husband, Phil, the attempt was unsuccessful--but O! the entertainment value!
We did it! With the support of 122 generous backers, we managed to raise a little more than enough to fund the first printing of Backstage at The Lost Colony, and bring a dream to life.
The idea for Backstage at The Lost Colony evolved through a series of conversations I had in early 2017 with Elizabeth Evans, who was a dancer in the show and worked with me in The Lost Colony's public relations office in the early 1990s. We first imagined publishing a compilation of stories from the actors, singers, dancers, and technicians who have been a part of The Lost Colony through the years.
That vision changed when, after several months of encouraging people to submit their stories, we had only a fraction of what we needed to make a proper book. I was getting worried, when one day there came in the mail an essay by Dwayne Walls, Jr., who had joined the show as a 19-year-old actor technician in the late 1980s. Entitled, "Sand," it had grace and power and heart. Several weeks and several more essays later, I asked Dwayne if he would be interested in writing the book. We agreed he would follow the cast and crew through The Lost Colony's 80th anniversary season and write the narrative.
Dwayne is uniquely suited to tell the Backstage story. A self-described “space puppy” when he first came to The Lost Colony, he was too preoccupied with the itch of his colonist’s beard and the paucity of his paycheck to enjoy his first summer with the show. But he returned a few years later with a different outlook and, even though his beard still itched, he grew both professionally and personally. After leaving The Lost Colony, Dwayne went on to New York City to build sets for theater, film, and television—including NBC’s Saturday Night Live, before returning to North Carolina with his wife, Elizabeth. Dwayne's love of the show and the people who have kept it going for 80 years is evident in the story he tells.
By the time we put up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the print run, the book had evolved into a 170-page coffee table book, with more than 100 photos, mostly color, by Outer Banks photographers Delena Gray Ostrander, Eden Saunders, and Duane Cochran, and actor Jamil Zraikat. Dwayne's narrative is supplemented by first-person stories from Colony alumni.
My first Kickstarter attempt failed, but I learned from it and solicited advice from friends like Elizabeth Evans and Gail Hutchison, who know the Colony community (and me) so well, and my daughter-in-law, Christina Sherlock, who has a keen mind for business. I can't wait to put the printed copies in the hands of everyone who believes in us! We'll have the book ready for the start of the 81st season.