Friday, August 28, 2009

Farewell, Austin High School, Farewell.

Today, I visited Austin High School for the last time before I leave on Sunday for New York University. Last night, my wonderful girlfriend Anne and I spent the evening together, having a farewell dinner and then watching Martin Scorsese's Casino (1995), a film which wasn't quite as romantic as I had remembered it. This morning, Anne caught an early flight to begin her junior year at George Washington University, and to keep from being too extraordinarily glum, I decided to pay a visit to my high school.

While there, I was lucky enough to catch up with some of my fine theatre friends, including past production costars Lily Primeaux, Angel Bottera, Brian Schwartz and even fellow 2009 graduate Kaylee Nelson, who is a freshman at St. Edwards University. She is one of the most talented musical theatre performers I have ever seen, and I have no doubt she is currently wowing the theatre department at St. Edwards. I have to admit, it was quite odd looking at the theatre call board and reading the final cast list for the first Red Dragon Players production of the year; after twenty-three career plays in four years with The Red Dragon Players, it's very hard for me to detach myself from the department.

I also said goodbye to many of the most influential teachers I've ever had - including Theatre Directors Billy Dragoo and Tommy Grubbs and English teachers Carol Knox and Brian Hudson. I visited the Performing Arts Center and the Hall of Honor, where I took the above photo of the five honored Maroon Society senior inductees from last year's Dedication Day (that's me on the lower left). I didn't have a chance to speak to many other influential teachers, including Newspaper instructor George Edwards and Chemistry teacher Leyla Cohlmia, but I suspect I'll be visiting again in the wintertime (in fact, I hope to catch a performance from The Red Dragon Players at that time).

I also spoke to Austin High Principal Lucio Calzada, a very kind man who I lovingly mocked in the video below, which aired last year on K-AHS, the student-run Austin High news station.

Since then, I have been preparing endlessly for the big move to New York City. Choosing which books and movies to bring has proved a more daunting task than I had originally imagined - how can I bring The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola) and Raging Bull (1980, Martin Scorsese) without bringing Apocalypse Now (1979, Francis Ford Coppola) and Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese)? I've ended up with a rather large collection, comprised of my twenty favorite movies, a few titles I haven't seen yet and some light-hearted fare, such as various seasons of The Simpsons, to keep my spirits high during the cold winter.

From the NYU Essential Screening list, I have most recently viewed the silent movie classic Sunrise (1927, F.W. Murnau) and the moving Tokyo Story (1953, Yasujiro Ozu), both extraordinary films. I also recently re-watched the incredible The Searchers (1956, John Ford), the great western which ultimately served as the inspiration for Taxi Driver. Ford's film is quite simply one of the finest movies ever made (aside from a sometimes meandering romantic subplot) and features John Wayne's best performance.

Tomorrow is my last day in the great city of Austin, Texas. I hope it's a good one. I intend to see director Ang Lee's latest film, Taking Woodstock, at some point during the day - but otherwise I will be preparing for Sunday.

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