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All Play and No Work Is a Great Job
Stand back. I am about to make a shameless plug for my other job. No, not that one. The other other job.
I am about to encourage you to come see me at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick History Center, home of the Indiana Historical Society, at 450 W. Ohio Street in Indianapolis.
Wait. Let me take that back. I don’t want you to come and see me. I want you to come and meet some friends of mine - Ernest Zwerner and George Greenlee.
Ernest and George are men I portray in the Indiana Experience program "You Are There," where visitors go back in time by literally walking into a photograph of long ago. George is the owner of the Ford dealership in Hartford City circa 1924, and Ernie is the owner of the Citizen’s Market grocery in Terre Haute, in 1945.
Ernie and I are old pals, sort of. I portrayed him during the pilot phase of "You Are There" back in 2008. Fools that they are, they asked me to come back and get it right this time.
If it’s anything like the pilot year, I am going to be a happy boy.
Imagine a job where you get to make new friends every hour of every day a job where people come into your place of work and have a profound, positive emotional reaction to the atmosphere you’ve created a job where you play all day and help people think about their own histories.
Basically, that’s what I do.
Of course, it has other amusements as well. The market, you see, is a nearly-perfect reproduction of mom-and-pop grocery stores of the era, right down to the prices. You would be surprised how many people come in and want to buy what they think is a can of soup for six cents. Or maybe you wouldn’t.
One guy in 2008 kept coming in, day after day, bringing a new friend every day, to point out the bargains. He was so enthusiastic I came close to selling a broom for 41 cents before I remembered I was pretending, even if he wasn’t.
Now, George Greenlee is a new friend. The guy loves selling cars, but all Ford offers is the Model T in basic black, and it’s not moving the way it used to. He’s a little worried, but he covers it up with bluster and banter and most of all, jokes. I don’t know why they chose me to play him.
The cool thing about these roles, if you can call them that, are that they’re based on real people and there’s no script. It’s all improv. You know - like real life.
And it’s fun for the visitors, too, which is why I invited you. Admission is $7 for three experiences (there’s also a cool 1914 Indianapolis violin shop) and the Cole Porter room, where interpreters in fancy dress sing Cole Porter’s songs.
Yes, I’ll be working in there, too. I told you these people were fools.
But come on in if you want to know what it sounds like when Rochester from the Jack Benny Show sings "Night and Day." I liken it to the sound of a rusty gate swinging while the wind whistles through the outhouse. Which is another kind of Indiana Experience altogether.
© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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