FOR RELEASE ON: Monday, March 16th, 2009
Judy Van Atta, director, Robert Newell House Museum / 503-678-5537
Al LePage, performing artist, AKA "Robert 'Doc' Newell" / 503-335-3876
Bob Hart, director, Lane County Historical Society and Museum, AKA "Joe Meek" / (541) 682-4242
Rendezvous with two of Oregon's finest 150
after statehood in a
harmonica-blowing, myth-busting, fun-loving but serious living history special event
The Robert Newell House Museum in St. Paul, Oregon will host the premier performance of "Joe Meek & Doc Newell Alive!" at 1:30 PM on Saturday, March 28th in conjunction with Robert "Doc" Newell's 202nd birthday. Al LePage, appearing as "Doc Newell" and Bob Hart as "Joe Meek" have teamed up to create and offer this unique program about these men's lives and through their life-long relationship the roles they played both in early Western and later Oregon history. They will also be on hand when home-baked "birthday cakes" will be served up with beverages immediately after the event in Rebecca's Tea Porch. The event is free of charge, includes cake and beverages, and is being sponsored by the Daughter's of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) in commemoration of Oregon's 150th birthday. Regular admission prices will be in effect for those wishing to visit the actual house museum itself. For more information contact the museum’s director, Judy Van Atta, at 503-678-5537.
"The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," states Al LePage, who co-created the performance and portrays Newell. "You see, when it comes right down to it history is someone's story, someone's interpretation of what happened. But, since people are human, since people are different, well their stories can be, too. And those who tell their stories first, or if some stories sound really good, or have really good storytellers, too, well, maybe they become the stories that stick, more than the actual reality. So the great thing about this presentation is that both Meek and Newell are dead, so they're finally free to tell it like it is, or rather was. So get ready not only for some myth-busting, among other things."
Meek and Newell had a life long relationship, both personal and professional, first as fellow trappers eventually becoming brother-in-laws through marriage to Nez Perce Indian sisters. When Newell decided to head west to the Oregon Country with his wife and children, Meek joined him, and settled on the Tualatin Plains to farm. They soon became involved in other endeavors, the formation of the provisional government among them, both serving in government in various capacities during both the 1840's and 1850's. The presentation strives to tell about their lives, but also the often untold early story of Oregon, from before it was a territory and up to statehood, and in a way that only Meek and Newell can, based on the close friendship they shared for over 30 years.
Al LePage ("Doc Newell") up close and personal,
will also take the long view of history from "Eternity"
"‘Ol Bob’ Newell’s ghost is still chagrined over so much being made of his storied friend,” begins Bob Hart, who portrays Joe Meek. "Joe's been immortalized. His stories live on in the pages of several books, beginning with River of the West, which Joe himself was actually interviewed for by one of Oregon's first women’s historians. His moment of glory calling for a vote is captured in a bigger than life painting staring legislators in the face every time they vote in the house chambers of Oregon's State Capitol. Yes, that painting fits him, he would have loved it!"
Newell and Meek knew how to tell a good story, and have a good time, and the presentation will constantly go back and forth, from the dramatic to the comedic, from what could be called the "dead serious" to the "alive and well," and from the provocative to the playful. In fact, be ready to play along, as this is not just a performance given by the two characters, it's interactive, too. The presentation is meant to bring history alive in more ways than one, and audience members could become involved in everything from dancing to dialogue. So, be prepared not just to learn about history, but to live it too.
"The 150th anniversary of statehood is a good time for looking back, taking stock, and moving forward," adds Hart. "The study of the past can help us better know who we are as Oregonians. Meek and Newell represent early Oregonian attitudes towards Native Americans, African Americans, government and statehood, among other things. Yes, they were products of their time, and certainly not perfect, but their lives and their trials and tribulations can be instructive for us today."
"Everyone's invited to celebrate two of Oregon's finest," notes Judy
Van Atta, director of the Robert Newell House Museum, " and that's
'Doc' Newell, of course, and his old friend Joe Meek! We'll open
our warm and cozy tea porch for this one-time only performance, and
free of charge with cakes and beverages, too, as a very special event
Bob Hart ("Joe Meek") takes on the challenge of becoming one of
Oregon history's most outrageous larger-than-life storytellers!
LePage was involved in living history programs as characters from the past for over 8 years, first with the National Park Service and other historic sites and museums from Oregon to British Columbia. He's developed and given presentations, and written and performed one-man shows, all in character, specializing in early Pacific Northwest history from Lewis & Clark to the beginning of Oregon statehood. He's also appeared on the PBS History Detectives series, addressed the Oregon House of Representatives as "Robert Newell," most recently appearing on OPB's Oregon Experience's Road to Statehood episode as a bearded French Canadian. He continues to live in the past each year during December with dramatic readings of "A Christmas Carol" to benefit charity in the guise of a Victorian Englishman, giving them in the same manner as Dickens actually did, historic script and all.
Hart, director of the Lane County Historical Society and Museum, was a former living history interpreter with the National Park Service and began doing Joe Meek at the Newell House Museum in 2006, recently appearing as Meek himself on OPB's Oregon Experience's Road to Statehood episode. Since agreeing to collaborate and offer the current program, he's been both deepening his knowledge of Meek through more extensive research of his life and further enhancing his ability to become Meek in performance. He looks forward to the upcoming year in 2010, Joe Meek's 200th birthday with its potential to develop and offer another new living history program focusing on Meek's life.
IMAGES ON THIS RELEASE ARE
FOR FREE USE BY PRINT MEDIA
The Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.)
and operates the Robert Newell House Museum. The original Newell
House was built
on the bluff overlooking the Champoeg townsite about 1852, and was reconstructed by the Oregon State Society of the D.A.R. in 1959. Besides
the reconstructed Newell House, containing Indian artifacts, a unique collection of historic gowns, and other items, the museum grounds also
include both the 1850 Butteville Jail and a typical one room schoolhouse.
The high-resolution print
images above are provided to the print media
with the permission and courtesy of the Robert Newell House Museum.
Crop and color balance these photos as needed.
Please credit "David Krapes, Photographer"