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      IT'S ALL IN THE FAMILY by Barbara Biddison

      Musing on 3 decades with Hamilton-Gibson. I've been fortunate to spend a few months here and there with what becomes my HG family for the duration of the rehearsal/performance time of a production. It's always different, and always special, and always something that I miss when it's over.

      So, in 2000, 2 decades ago there was GOODBYE, HOWARD, a comedy in which Juanita Jobst, Nan Bowser, and I played sisters. I knew them sorta before the rehearsals, but all that laughing drew us together in a whole new way as we said goodbye to Howard. The sisterhood and the belly laughs continued long after the final performance. We rehearsed most of the early run-throughs in the fireplace room at my house. I can still hear it.

      Then in 2007 Larry and I were asked to play the only two adults in a show, ONCE UPON A SHOE, cast with mostly middle-school kids and performed for area schools. We took the show on-the-road and set up our huge, much larger-than-life shoe in cafeterias and gyms and all-purpose rooms where the young audiences sat cross-legged on the floor. I think we did 15 shows. As Mother Goose I was "mother" for 8 kids as we all performed amongst the children on the floor. You never forget that kind of family. I think one of those kids (Josh Allen) is in A POUND OF FLESH now.

      On to 2009 and the OUR TOWN/LARAMIE PROJECT, performed "in rep" or as close as H-G will ever get. We alternated those shows for two weeks and almost all of us were in both of them. Talk about family!!! We'd see each other on the street in Wellsboro and stop to talk like long-lost friends. It was performed in 3/4 round in the Fifth Season space that once served as the H-G theatre, an intimate space, for a close-knit group of actors Family.

      One last one. Though I could go on forever, I won't. It's HE HELD ME GRAND, in 2011 in the Warehouse Theatre. A huge cast. The most racially diverse we've ever had I think, and covering all ages. I'm pretty sure I was the oldest in the cast. Charla and I played best friends since childhood and still living next-door to each other....and I felt like we really were . The youngest was a third-grader who played my character's mother as a young girl. There were the sisters April, May, and June, and the brother Pete, and a grandson who showed up. And this group of actors became family on-stage and off as far as I was concerned.

      Since I'm an "only child" in real life, I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to claim so many families.

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