Saturday, March 16, 2013

Room and Board

This post will also be found in Tehachapi's The Loop Newspaper.

 We don't hear much about boarding houses anymore. Well, except for pets. I did a search on the Internet and besides a restaurant or two all the hits for boarding houses seemed to be for pet lodging. But in the past boarding houses were common.

In literature there are commonly people living in boarding houses. For example 221B appears to have been a boarding house, with Mrs. Hudson providing at least some meals to her lodgers Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. And in the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951 version), the alien, once escaping from the government hospital, moves into a boarding house and learns about humanity.

Now a boarding house supplies food which a rooming house does not. And the term board, meaning food, comes from the “board” which made the table on which the food was served. Now Wikipedia informs me that “chairman of the board” comes from same root idea. The person getting the one chair reserved for the head of the household sitting at the board or table, every one else getting to sit at the benches.

Not only have boarding houses appeared in literature, they have helped shape at least some. I was just reading about the play Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring. It seems that he lived in a boarding house while teaching at Bethel College in Kansas and based the house in the play on that boarding house. The plot might have also been influenced by a story out of Connecticut where a woman was murdering boarders for their pensions. Maybe it is stories like that which have cut down on the number of boarding houses in this country. Luckily with Arsenic and Old Lace we ended up with a comedy rather than a tragedy.

And by the time you're reading this you'll have a chance to see another boarding house comedy. Tehachapi Community Theatre's production of Tom Misuraca's Tenants. The house is filled with unique characters that, despite their uniqueness will resonate. These characters have a good chance of reminding you of people you know.

But even if you don't know actors, artists, or poets (though I doubt too many of the readers of The Loop don't know at least some of these) we all have the same issues in our lives. Love sometimes goes wrong. And we can spend time looking for the places we really belong.

And sometimes things can work out. Which since this is a comedy, things do. Though maybe not always in the way we are expecting. In this play we watch as some of the characters go through a metamorphosis and become something new. While others seem to discover they are already where they belong. And some don't seem to learn a thing.

This play is a world premier and who knows where it might go after this. So come out and see it. Just think, if the show takes off, you can say that you were there and you saw it first.

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