Monday, December 03, 2007

Ghosts and Beginnings

Too often blogging is akin to a beer hall, everyone trying to shout the loudest, and prove they're the smartest as they push for their own putsch. It's really Talk Radio 2.0

Many times I've wished that blogging in all its messy glory were more the campfire that the tribe sat around at the end of the day and shared the day's collective earned wisdom. Or their histories. Or simply their stories.

My impotent idealism aside this is one of those entries for me.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that for most of those theatre artists that are slogging it out for too few opportunities at too little pay with too little recognition that we began when we were young.

For my own part I began in the spring of my sophomore year of high school. The rumored show was Robin Hood, and MAN OH MAN did I want to be in Robin Hood. My idol Eric Vendt had just played the dentist in Little Shop that fall, and I desperately wanted to have that much fun on a stage.

They didn't do Robin Hood, and Eric didn't so the show they DID do, which was Alice in Wonderland.

I was the Mock Turtle. In fluorescent green plaid skater pants (oh 1990 is there anything you CAN'T do?).

I would be involved in 19 more shows all told over the next 2 years.

Spending most of my non-class waking life with these two people.

Travis Drama Teachers

Chuck Seifert and Kathleen Dacey changed my life.

Ms. Dacey ran the extra-curricular Actors Guild.
Mr. Seifert was the Drama Teacher.

Ms. Dacey taught me how to break down a show. She taught me the beginnings of Stanislavski. She refused to believe I couldn't sing. She cast me as Bottom, as Fancourt in Charley's Aunt, as Joe in Shadow Box, as Vandergelder in Hello Dolly. She taught me the meaning of commitment to the project.

Mr. Seifert, also my AP Lit teacher, introduced me to Chaucer and Moliere, MacBeth and Hamlet. He introduced me to McCandless and how to troubleshoot lights and a antique patch board. He taught me all the rough points of technical theatre.

And they both expected the world of me.

It was wonderful.

Too much in my educational career I had the standards for other kids placed on me. Almost all of which were too low. I never had to work for it. It made me cocky. It made me complacent. Excelling at school didn't take any effort.

Neither Mr. Seifert nor Ms. Dacey really cared about all of that. They had spent enough time with me to know what I was capable of, and they'd be damned if they were going to settle for anything less than 110% of that effort. I wish every teacher had had the time to do that. I'd be a better person today.

Mr. Seifert passed away this past year, and Ms. Dacey will actually retire one of these years. But they set me on a path that I have followed for more than half my life now. I owe them for every single day.

So what about you?

Who are your ghosts?

What are your beginnings?

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