Skip to content

Why we play…

I am not dramatically educated. As a matter of fact, I am practically the opposite. I spent seven of the best years of my life earning an undergraduate degree at Ma Tech. Just the same, I fornicating (can I say that) LOVE theater. I love attending it, I REALLY love DOING it.

All that said, how did I come by that love?

There were a couple of formative experiences along the way.

Everybody gets involuntary exposure to various plays through grade school. Among those experiences I would count a rather baffling rendition of The Emperor’s New Clothes and the neon/pastel Romeo and Juliet on scaffolding (seriously). Neither of these endeared me to theater.

I began to really realize there was something wrong with me in my senior year. I caught the traveling Broadway production of Amadeus at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. I had seen the movie and found it amusing. The play was another thing entirely. My teacher had told me something about “man vs. God”, and lo and behold, it suddenly made sense. The stage tilted. I could smell Salieri’s pudding as he hid in his favorite chair. More importantly, the play bothered me, and I mean for more than five minutes. That’s not easy to achieve with a high school senior. Suddenly I had an audience member’s appreciation for the craft.

That is part one. Part two occurred when my dear AP teacher “volunteered” me to read the part of the Professor (or whatever it is) in Ionesco’s The Lesson. I was terrified of the idea whenever call when out for school productions, but ached to do so just the same. Suddenly, however, I was cast in a classroom reading with no real say in the matter. As the role transformed over the course of the script (it was a cold reading) so did I. I found myself sucked into the role. The fact that the other student was doing a killer job did not hurt. By the time that we finished the play, I was done in. Don’t get me wrong, it took 11 more years before I had the courage to do one of Offshoot’s apprentice plays, and then on to then-NCTC. The seeds were planted, however. The memory of that reading means enough to me that after 19 years, I called that teacher up a couple of months ago to thank her for the appreciation I gained for the medium under her tutelage.

I will never make any money performing, but I don’t really care. I love being on both sides of the fourth wall. I’ve seen some fantastic plays, and I’ve seen some real stinkers. I’ve played some roles I loved, and some I never really appreciated. One way or another, I have found my drug and it’s called theater.

I have now exposed myself in the blogosphere. Don’t let my sacrifice be in vain. Tell your story. Performing requires a certain amount of exhibitionism. Play to that part of yourself and tell those listening why you love theater, performing, or some portion or permutation thereof. I look forward to meeting you.


  1. Dale wrote:

    My first performance was in first grade, back in the days when every class did an “assembly” for the rest of the grade level. Miss Betty Jim Owings picked a circus play and made me the ringmaster, because I could read already and the big words like “stupendous” were not a problem for me.

    I loved all those assembly programs, and when we moved back to Macon halfway through second grade, I was bothered that my new school didn’t do these things. (It was a pitiful place; the school “library” was shelves lining the stage, usually covered by the diorama curtains and left in the dark. There was no librarian.)

    So I wrote a play, an original myth concerning Apollo and his sister Diana that explained eclipses. I rounded up my friends and we practiced on the playground. My mother must have gotten involved at some point, because we did in fact perform for the entire school with costumes and everything. My grandmother kept that script for years. I wonder whatever became of it.

    My first real play was Pygmalion, performed by the Newnan Playmakers out at Dunaway Gardens in their Barn. My mother took me and a friend to see it for my birthday when I was in the sixth grade. I was amazed and fascinated by the scenery, the costumes, the acting. (The Barn’s stage was no more than fifteen feet across, no wing space, tiny fly space. Looking back, the production was a miracle.)

    The very next year, the Playmakers were doing The Teahouse of the August Moon, a sweet if condescendingly racist play. And there were children’s roles! I went to auditions, which were in Elm Street’s cafeteria. I think I must have been the only kid who wasn’t a child of a Playmaker that auditioned. I got the role of the Goat Boy and had to wrangle a live goat my very first time onstage, in what is now Wadsworth Auditorium. During that period, the Playmakers must have had an awesome tech director, because the high point of Teahouse is the onstage assembling of the teahouse, which had been forbidden by the asshole American commanding officer. Two claps of the hand, and we all swept in bearing pieces, which came together into a freestanding, fully Japanese teahouse.

    The two things that really altered my life, though, were Mrs. Marjorie Hatchett, the drama teacher at Newnan High School, and the Governor’s Honors Program.

    Mrs. Hatchett was a grande dame, a wonderful director who could take one look at a scene and know how to fix it. She never raised her voice, and we all adored her. I was in her homeroom my junior year and I decided at that time that if I could be like her when I grew up, I would consider myself successful.

    I was an art major at GHP, but my minor was theatre, and we spent the afternoons improvising in small groups. It was the first time I had plunged into that world, and the intensity of it stayed with me. In fact, it made me change my college plans from art to theatre.

    Twenty-five years (plus) running NCTC

    And now with Lacuna, I’m ready to totally change my life in theatre again. For me, it’s all about the scary thrill of creating the “thing that is not,” making a whole new universe out of nothing. I’m ready.

    Friday, April 14, 2006 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  2. Melissa Houghton wrote:

    If there is one thing that we all have in common in Lacuna is a love of theatre. I don’t think any of us would even consider diving into such an endeavor if there wasn’t one drop of admiration for the stage flowing through our veins.

    To second what Turff said in the original post, “I am not dramatically educated. As a matter of fact, I am practically the opposite… Just the same, I LOVE theater. I love attending it, I REALLY love DOING it.”

    Doing Mame with all of you brought back all the feelings and excitement that I haven’t felt since high school (granted it’s only been about five years since the days of Parkview theatre). I can honestly say that Mame filled an emptiness in my life that I was secretly yearning to fill.

    Just like Dale, I think it was his mother (my grandmother) who first took me to a real show (not just one of those church musicals that I had done and seen my whole life) presented by either NTC or NHS. As a little girl, who wasn’t the most outgoing child in the world, I was excited by the idea of being on stage and transforming myself into a vast number of characters unlike myself. There is something empowering about being able to express emotions and saying and doing things that I would never say and do in the “so-called real world.” The stage became my playground after elementary school. It was a place for me to goof around with friends in ridiculous costumes. It was our new form of pretend play. I transformed myself into a jewish girl looking for a mate, a cat, showgirl, sheperd, a nightingale that looked more like a Vegas showduck, and so much more all while creating lasting memories to share with my bestest friends. I can only hope that Lacuna will bring me new friendships and create many new memories in this new chapter of my life.

    I can’t wait to see where Lacuna takes us all down this new path in theatre. I look forward to becoming better educated in the ways of theatre. I have so much to learn from all of you. We are taking the “path less traveled by” as Robert Frost said. And it will make all the difference.

    (Oh, and Dale, I’m sure Great Grandma had that script until the day she moved out of her house. We both know that she didn’t throw out anything her grand and great grandchildren ever gave her. You never know, it could still be somewhere with her stuff if grandma didn’t throw it out. It’s worth asking or looking.)

    Saturday, April 15, 2006 at 3:20 pm | Permalink
  3. Jenny Price wrote:

    Why we play–
    I have very little theater education and virtually no talent, but as a teenager, theater allowed me to get outside myself. I grew up in a relatively confining family, but theater was considered to be acceptable. Theater allowed me to explore “other” lives, as did music, and both were and are a lifeline.
    The real epiphany for me was when my brother “came out” to my family at the same time I was in Fiddler On the Roof, and my parents “disowned” him publically for “religious reasons”. For me, this was the first point at which I really defied my family, as I maintained my relationship with and support of my brother (of course). As Tzeitel, the “good child,” I was able to explore both sides of the issue, and I can remember few moments more poignant than the moment toward the end of the show when I was able to make loving contact with Chava, the disowned member of the family. I was able to do this on stage in full view of my family, and is resounded like nothing ever has since. Of course, I was also able to utter the lovely line in Steel Magnolias just a few months back about about Claree’s family just “getting over it” if their son being gay is the worst thing that has ever happened to them. This was beautiful, because, after almost 20 years, my parents ARE finally “getting over it!”
    Anyway, I’m starting to sound self-centered and maudlin, but that is aspect One of my love for theater.
    However, here in Newnan, I have found an even stronger motivation for theater, and that is the beauty of being a part of a collaborative effort. Never have I felt so energized to be involved in the “hive of talent” that makes up this group. The joy of being part of this has been quite a gift to me, and I thank you guys for it.
    OK–that’s the end of the dramatics from me for now. What can I say: You asked!!

    Thursday, April 20, 2006 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  4. Dale wrote:

    Jenny’s comment reminds me of the old days when I was working heavily with teens. After the first play a kid was in, the parents would thank me profusely for giving them an outlet.

    By the end of the second play, and no later than the third, however, the parents were no longer grateful. What happened? Their little child was growing up, #1, which had nothing to do with me, but in the process of figuring out who they were, they had come to the realization through theatre that they didn’t have to be who they had always been or who their peers/parents/whoever said they had to be. Reconfiguration abounded. Parents freaked. I got the blame. Oh well.

    How’d that work out for you, Marc?

    Friday, April 21, 2006 at 5:55 am | Permalink
  5. marc wrote:

    Dale, I apologize for my mother.

    Jenny, Wow. We’re always saying more than what’s supposed to be there on the page. Thankfully. That’s truthful acting, I think. Just reading your account, truth resonated, like down a long hallway. But I’m still going to make Marist jokes. No kid gloves on these hands.

    Melissa, thank you for the vision of the Vegas showduck.

    I’m still mulling over how to answer the question. Who goes next?

    Friday, April 21, 2006 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  6. Melissa wrote:

    I just love the honesty of this blog and the posted comments. There’s none of that “art of telling the truth” on this page. It’s all real. If you read through these comments and haven’t opened up yourself, you need to find the strength within and share a real memory with all of us.

    Here’s a small glance into a real memory and my all-time favorite role as the Nightingale of Samarkan in Once Upon a Mattress (aka the Vegas showduck). What you can’t see in the picture is my huge tail made entirely of peacock feathers. And I actually wore this crazy thing to school. This one is for you Marc, a glimpse to make the vision more real:

    Friday, April 28, 2006 at 9:41 am | Permalink
  7. Dale wrote:

    Gack! Did no one ever tell you that peacock feathers are bad luck on stage? How will we ever create real theatre if we don’t honor the deeply embedded superstitions of our craft??

    Sunday, April 30, 2006 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  8. marc wrote:

    Melissa, I’m deeply grateful. Beyond that, words fail.

    Monday, May 1, 2006 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
  9. marc wrote:

    I think I play because I saw Steve Moore in The Importance of Being Earnest. His first words as Jack Worthing aka Earnest–hands behind back, rising up on the toes, “To the country, the country…”–had me bursting out in tears of joy and deep satisfaction.

    (To catch folks up: Steve Moore, son of Ray and Marie, brother of Russ and Bruce, a senior at Newnan High when I was a sophmore, member of NASTY.)

    Steve took time off before starting college, if I remember correctly. He eventually went to UGA intending to study acting. I had been rubbing elbows with some of the life forms in UGA theatre at that point, and I wondered how Steve would experience it all. I saw him once sitting in a hallway in the theatre building in his acting student uniform of t-shirt and sweat pants, no doubt waiting to go clown with Dr. Staub, and I decided he looked lost. And that was a blow. Because he was the supreme comic player of all time as far as I was concerned. But there in the world of vocation seekers (shallow acting student shits–who majors in acting, anyway?) he was at sea. Steve changed majors, eventually. This is not to churn up pathos. It’s about my ambivalence. I was once accused, by a professor with great insight, of being in a love/hate relationship with acting. It’s true. To be continued…

    Monday, May 1, 2006 at 9:06 pm | Permalink