I feel that we had a lot of free time in the pit — time to breathe and think. We did not feel the pressure of the audience’s attention — I never saw the audience in the house — though it was interesting to hear how each different showing responded each night. I’m sure that what I have learned may not be what others have thought about, but hopefully I can bring a little to the table as we look back at the show.

Although ragtime as a musical style may seem bygone and quaint in the light of new genres and new cultures, I felt that the music served to tie the experience of the human story to the human audience, regardless of genre or theatrical experience.

Simply put, the tunes catch, as do their emotions and undercurrents, declarations and yearnings. It isn’t necessary to understand the chord progressions of ragtime in order to enjoy it. When I livestreamed unrelated art to my friends at Duke, and used a clip from “New Music” as background music, one of them said something like: “Hey. What happened to Coalhouse’s car – I feel like that could still be happening to immigrants to my state. Different people, but it’s still there.”

It’s great that people see Ragtime and think about the story it might tell.

Although the early 1900s may be fuzzy at best – based on a grandparents’ memory, or stories, or songs – I don’t think it was too difficult for a person in the audience to empathize with the characters of Ragtime. At the risk of treading water in unfamiliar pools: when I read Ragtime, I was instantly reminded of Crash (2004), a film that similarly intersects the lives of different groups of people in modern Los Angeles. It might be possible that in 96 years, someone will watch Crash and be able to relate to those characters like we can relate to Ragtime today. I’d like to suggest that historical ancestry or not, cultural relevance or not, there are certain things that we can still see and care about in our own lives and the lives of those around us. Justice, hope, and fear, among other things, may have been different in the context of Ragtime, but that does not mean it is gone today.

Ruth Z.

Non-production hours: Orchestra rehearsal, Strike (3h)