A year ago, Forrest Hejkal opened the door to his friend Jane Pollock's backyard barn and was gripped by inspiration. This decrepit, filthy, junk-stuffed, two-story barn could be the summer theater of his dreams. Pollock rather dubiously gave him permission to try to fix it up.
Forrest, then nineteen, and his dad, Steve Hejkal, a professional carpenter, spent weeks installing a new roof, reinforcing the foundation, smoothing out the floor, banishing insects and critters, and stringing up a modicum of electrification. Then Forrest stayed up nearly all night placing iron-on letters onto an eight-foot over-the-door sign, each letter perfectly spaced on a curve, christening Pollock's barn "Carriage House Theatre."
For his opening production, Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, Hejkal recruited actors he'd worked with in the Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild. He became the producer, stage manager, publicist, and director. The season continued with plays by Tennessee Williams and Shel Silverstein, as well as Lawrence and Lee's Inherit the Wind.
Inside the barn, chairs for the audience are ranged around the periphery of the room. One evening during a seriously poignant scene of Uncle Vanya there entered, stage right, via the side door, a cat that made its way around the room rubbing the shins of each audience member--all of them stifling grins--and solemnly exited as she came.