When I was just a young man still going to college, I pulled another major change of my course of study. In my career as a student I went from Political Science to History to Education to Media Studies. Now I was going to change once more to Theater (it’s no wonder it took me nine years to get a four year degree). This latest change came about as none of the others had. It came about as I was completing the electives required for my Media degree. Let’s face it, I held off on them ’til the last few months of my education so I could just breeze through my tenure as a student. I took Spanish 1 and 2 (on a pass/fail bases) Intro to Philosophy, and a few Theater courses. It is the latter that I want to tell you about.
I had no delusions of my lack of acting talent, so I signed up for set-construction, prop coordination, ushering and the like. But the instructor had seen me in the Mass Media building, which was shared with the television studios where I spent two plus years, and the radio studios where I worked for a few semesters, and the theater group. So I knew Dr. Cardwell for some time. He welcomed me and immediately asked if I would help with the set lighting using my experience in television. In addition, I told him I worked part-time in a camera store. He asked about other work I had done other than school, I told him I was a roadie for a local band and had worked in a stereo store. He suggested I may be interested in helping with the sound crew. He then pulled the coup-de-grass and mentioned he was considering presenting a production that had, as an integral part, a scene that revolved around a television show being watched and discussed by the stage actors in the play. I was so taken with myself I quickly agreed. Besides, it beat sweeping up the trash left by the audience.
So it began, countless hours during and after school, weekends, mid-performance runs tuning and tweaking the plays, changing the timing of cues and blocking of the actors; rehearsals, technical rehearsals, dress rehearsals, hours listening to the same lines over and over again, so that even I could play any part, indeed every part of the production. But opening night and closing night were always something special. I ended up spending two extra semesters doing nothing but theater work, sometimes for no credit, sometimes just auditing the courses. It just gets in your blood. As Ethel Merman sang, “Even with a turkey that you know will fold, you may be stranded out in the cold, still you won’t change it for a pot of gold. Let’s go on with the show. Let’s go on with the show”
September 4, 2013