On September 17th, author of TRAPPED! The Floyd Collins Story, Roger Brucker took to the American Rep Theater of WNY stage to chat about Floyd Collins, the Great Save Cave and the stories behind this great Americana tale.
Before the performance, Mr Brucker engaged patrons in the history behind Floyd Collins and the characters involved then briefly answered questions. Being elusive in order to not be a spoiler, Mr. Brucker reserved some of his answers until after the Floyd Collins performance.
Roger Brucker's cave history began at an early age when, according to his website "he hid in closets behind hanging clothes so that nobody could find him...and built his own caves out of card tables, chairs and blankets."
Throughout the 50's & 60's, Roger Brucker began to explore the vast connective tunnels of the Crystal Caves located near the famed Kentuckian Mammoth Cave systems. His mission was to find a link to both underground systems. Successful in his attempts, Brucker, with Richard Watson, authored The Longest Cave in 1976, depicting his efforts in finding connections between the Flint and the Mammoth Cave systems.
Inspired by the caving efforts of regional folk-hero, Floyd Collins, Brucker then set off to explore the Sand Cave system; the same area surrounding the tragic events surrounding Collins. His efforts would be the basis behind the book Trapped! The Story of Floyd Collins.
Upon exploring the unstable conditions of the cave, Brucker recalls in his website biography, "It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life." His efforts in the Sand Cave, including reaching the spot where Floyd Collins became stuck, yielded his and Robert J Murray's accurate depiction of the 1925 events surrounding this Americana story.
So much accuracy, that several years later Adam Guettel and Tina Landau used the book as a "Bible" in obtaining information to write the musical Floyd Collins.
American Repertory Theater of WNY was proud to host Mr. Brucker for the evening and both patrons and cast members found his related and relayed stories of Floyd Collins, the Sand Cave and the many characters surrounding this story to be informative, insightful and entertaining.
"This is as close as I'll come to the real Floyd Collins,"said a patron. "Its like having a living history book to fill in the blanks."
Afterwards, Roger Brucker graciously said that the production by ART of WNY was one of the top-two Floyd Collins productions of the twenty he has seen. "The only performances in the same league as this was the College Conservatory in Cincinnati." He told patrons.
A sprite man in his 80's, Roger Brucker stayed well past the show's end answering questions and sharing his thoughts on the material. At one point, shying away from singing the original Ballad of Floyd Collins instead deferring to the talent on stage for that purpose. "I'm a caver, not a singer." He joked.
American Repertory Theater of WNY was proud to bring in this accomplished author and truly appreciates the once-in-lifetime experience of meeting a "living history book". ART would also like to thank Mr. Brucker's publicist Fred Anderson for making the arrangements and seeing this absolutely entertaining evening through.
This is what collaboration is all about.
|Roger Brucker (seated) with cast of ART's FLOYD COLLINS|