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Becoming a playwright at 97

Retired movie producer turned playwright Elmo Williams and Bryan Skidmore discuss “The Corner Pocket” during a rehearsal. The Pilot/Bill Schlichting
Retired Hollywood filmmaker Elmo Williams of Brookings spent a better part of a lifetime producing movies, but after 97 years, he has finally produced a play – and it was, perhaps, his finest work.

The Chetco Pelican Players’ production of “The Corner Pocket,” written by Williams and directed by Tommy Jones, is a warmhearted story about dealing with aging. It involves a group of men who gather at a club called The Corner Pocket. There they look back on their lives. Unfortunately, these guys who discuss the philosophy of life have also decided that no women are allowed in their club.

The no-woman rule does not go over very well with a group of women, who strive to remain active in their senior years. The women form a group calling themselves The Blue Shoe Club. Together they have let the men of The Corner Pocket know that they will stage a protest. Holding true to their promise, the women picket the club and gain much community support.

As some of the men find themselves facing end-of-life issues, they begin to realize that perhaps life is too short to be feuding. The members of The Corner Pocket Club decide that perhaps it was time to bury the hatchet, which they ceremoniously do in the presence of The Blue Shoe Club.

Williams’ script touches on his personal experiences dealing with aging as well as a real incident that happened eight years ago in Brookings.

Curry Coastal Pilot staff writer Marjorie Woodfin wrote a column in the Dec. 24, 2002, issue exposing an unidentified group of men who met every Monday at Brian Scott Gallery on Chetco Avenue. The Philosopher’s Corner actually declared that women could not join the group because “females don’t have philosophical minds.”

When Lorraine Williams, Elmo’s late wife, read the column, she called Woodfin and said, “Let’s picket the gallery.” And several women did.

I remember when the women were staging the protest. I chuckled. It was all in good fun. Watching the play, I chuckled again when I noticed a few of the protesters were acting in the play – including Woodfin. I don’t know that any of the members of The Philosopher’s Corner are in the play, but I did hear one of them laughing out loud in the audience Sunday. I’m not naming names, though.

Although the play deals with aging, there is a lot of humor in the script that brought laughter many times. Anyone who is middle-aged or who has achieved chronological giftedness will appreciate the storyline of “The Corner Pocket.” Several songs and dances also add to the entertainment. Much of the music is a traditional hoedown sound with a blend of other genres. The kazoo marching band is a nice touch as is the Brookings shuffle.

The production features a cast of 13 men and 12 women and features a cameo appearance by the playwright himself.

Six performances remain at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 8, 9, 15 and 16, and 2 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 10 and 17. Tickets are $10 and are available at Words and Pictures, Chetco Pharmacy and Gifts, Book Dock, Blockbuster or at the door starting 45 minutes before show time. For information, call 541-469-1857 or visit http:// www.chetcopelicanplayers. org.

Performances take place at the Chetco Playhouse, 1240 Chetco Ave., Brookings.

Now I can honestly say, I’ve never critiqued any of Elmo’s movies, but I have reviewed all of his plays. Who knows, he may decide to write another play before he turns 100.

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