By Shane Sellers
You know me as ‘the theatre guy.’ I teach acting. I stage plays. I deliver entertainment.
You’d expect a Shakespeare quote from a theater guy, so here it is, from Act-II, Scene-VII of the Bard’s comedy As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
There could be no better introduction for the Newcastle Legacy Series. As director of the Bird Cage Theatrics Company, I and my colleague Dorothy Walker-Brown have staged some popular funny and tender moments these past eight years. All of our plays were scripted stories that arrived from the outside world. That practice changed last week with The Lynching of Diamond L. Slim, the first of three live re-enactments to arrive this year courtesy of Newcastle’s rich Wild West history.
The Newcastle Legacy Series turns on the premise that all of Newcastle is a stage; Newcastle men and women are the players. “They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” Western Heritage and the Newcastle Legacy Series believes it’s time to remove our players from the dusty pages of history, resuscitate them, and return them to center stage, a stage that would not exist were it not for their exploits and exertions.
The Lynching of Diamond L. Slim played to a packed house. The Legacy Series can claim that honor not because the re-enactment actually filled the streets (wouldn’t that be grand!), but because the show stirred hearts, spurred imaginations, and left spectators clamoring for more Newcastle history. So the Legacy Players will be back; with Teddy Roosevelt and the Independence Day parade on July 4, and on Halloween with the Battle of Lightning Creek.
We’re looking forward to hosting “Teddy” and can almost smell the gunpowder at Sheriff Miller’s Indian fight, but first some unfinished business with Slim. Always, theatre is a collaborative art. Reproducing last week’s lynching was made possible because citizens, businesses, city, and county crews made their entrances and played their parts. There are many small roles in making theatre, but never small players; all are necessary and must be accomplished for the show to succeed. Diamond Slim was a success. To all contributors, the Newcastle Legacy Series thanks you heartily.