Sunday, April 13, 2014


I wrote a stage adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic horror story shortly after we moved to North Carolina and my wife was pregnant with our second child.  I wanted to teach drama at the local high school and one afternoon walked up from the middle school where I was working and asked the principal if she would be willing to create a position for me.  She asked me how much it would cost to start up an after school theatre program.  I told her $500.  I also told her that I'd pay back every penny using proceeds from our first production.  She told me we had a deal.  She hired me as an English teacher and gave me one theatre class to start.  By the next year, enough students enrolled for me to teach a journalism class and all the rest theatre.  (We produced an amazing newspaper, by the way, until I got in trouble for letting one of my artists publish a political cartoon about an abusive priest.  There are just some things you can't get away with in the rural, conservative South.  "This is the Bible Belt, son," the assistant principal proudly reminded.)

Frankenstein was the perfect first show.  I created our program just as Victor gave life to the Creature and my wife gave birth to our little girl.  The ultimate metaphor.  More importantly, I gave an opportunity to a wonderful group of students who wouldn't have otherwise had the chance to do theatre.  They never took what we did for granted.  Many of them have become lifelong friends and still keep in touch with me via Facebook, have invited me to weddings, continued to play improv, or have dropped by our house for a guitar session or an Oscar party.  I wish I could see more of them more often.  That first group of North Carolina students in many ways has been my favorite (and my career is now inching closer to 25 fucking years).  Our time together culminated in an amazing production of Into the Woods three years later.  This time, I got in trouble for the scene where Cinderella's Prince sleeps with the Baker's Wife.  I had the Prince smoking a cigarette after the consummation.  A local Pastor caused a small stir.  Bible Belt and all that sort of thing.  So, I took an opportunity at bigger, more liberal program and have never looked back.  But, I miss those students, and they know who they are.

While producing Frankenstein, I made friends with a local newspaper editor who had a baby that same month.  We've stayed in touch ever since.  I can't believe it's been 12 years already!  She's covered nearly every theatrical event we've done in the county since then and even featured my wife and me as Cooks of the Month last summer in a monthly column.  (Greek restaurant training, remember?)  I greatly appreciate her constant support of local artists.  She's currently reading the proof of Crow Creek, by the way, and I'll post the link to her feature article just as soon as it sees print.

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