What’s West


I’ve been spending the last week driving back and forth to Middleburg, a drive of about sixty miles round trip. It seems an odd place to do a show, but that’s what I’m doing.

I have a little apartment out in Middleburg, although I’m not really using it for overnights. Since many of the show’s cast are schoolkids, our weekday rehearsals have to start after 5 PM. Since I was concerned about being stuck in rush-hour traffic on my way out to Middleburg, I asked for housing so I could drive out ahead of the traffic and have someplace quiet to work on my script, have a nosh and a nap if necessary, and generally prepare for rehearsals and performances as needed. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer place.

The apartment is west of Middleburg. Before you start imagining a little box of a room within a box of a building, I should tell you that the apartment is on an estate. When I turn off Route 50 to go to the apartment, I follow a series of progressively more wooded and narrow roads. Deer are everywhere. So are red foxes, to judge by the number of bushy-tailed roadkills I’ve observed. Birds are everywhere. And it’s quieter and quieter as the miles go by.

By the time I pass this rather imposing gateway, I feel like I’ve reached the ends of civilization. But of course I haven’t – houses are there, but they’re just far apart and tucked well back into the woods. At the end of the narrow paved road, I turn onto an even narrower gravel road, which winds up a hill. I pass stables and outbuildings, and eventually a very large dwelling rises in front of me.

In the interests of my host family’s privacy, I won’t post a photo of their house. My apartment is located over their garage, which could easily house four cars. Three dogs usually greet me with varying degrees of enthusiasm dependent on the heat of the day; two of them are rotund and friendly corgis and the other is some sort of wiry-haired mutt. As soon as the welcoming committee has done its duty, its members retire into the shade.

I go through an iron gate and open a side door to the garage. On the first floor there’s a full bath on the right and a flight of steps to the left. I climb the stairs to my little eyrie. It’s a spacious apartment with plenty of gabled windows, so there’s lots of light. The apartment is equipped with two single beds and a chaise if I want to rest, a little butcher block table with two high stools for a work space, a refrigerator, oven and microwave so I can prepare a meal if I want. I have lots of floor space so I can walk my blocking if I need to.

I try to keep the blinds closed, as there’s a lot of distraction outside. I don’t mean that it’s noisy – far from it – it’s just that there are so many beautiful views. From one window, I can see the front of the house and down the arc of the drive; from another I can look toward the stables and the corral (sometimes occupied by one grey horse and one brown horse); from yet another I can look at the swimming pool (which I have been invited to use but haven’t yet). I’m told that beyond the pool is a lovely walk to a creek. I expect that once I’m more secure with my script I’ll be exploring the estate more; I’ve been given carte blanche to go where I please.

Crass commercial details about the show will follow as we get closer to opening. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the calm and the quiet of my Middleburg retreat.

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