Saturday, November 26, 2005


(Originally run 6/19 and 6/23/04 on our old site)

Ann Shannon Snodgrass

Class of '54 Glass Menagerie

Yes, Anita. Thank you! That is the production to which I was referring. When I saw it, I was just enthralled by those folks -- actors!

Tom Pry

Us hams – uhh, actors -- appreciate that, Ann. Your regard for us is not always shared. I am minded of the interview in which Alfred Hitchcock was accused of having said that actors are like cattle. He vehemently denied the accusation, pointing out that what he actually said was that actors should be TREATED like cattle.

Now, what was this thing that happened on stage that got your memory all a-twitter?

Oh, and remind me to tell you about our evening of one-act plays in the SHS auditorium: a tragedy in more ways than one.

Anita Hart Fuller

Ann: now that I've id'ed the cast of Glass Menagerie, YOU tell us what the lead actor (Calvin Skaggs) did on stage that was so shocking? Hurry, I'm dying to know. Bob, Don Thompson and I had a good visit with Cal at our class reunion a couple of weeks ago. His production company, Lumiere Productions, NYC, does quite a few things which you may have seen on TV, mostly on PBS. We've followed his career for many years now. His last that I remember on PBS was on The Religious Right. Some of his shows have been available thru the PBS online store, if anyone's interested.

I don't think I can answer the questions posed but, maybe, one? Is it Snowden's Variety Store? Or maybe Mode-o-Day, in a later "day" - no pun intended? Dick Phillips' dad was the manager of some variety store around there. Guess I should have asked him at the reunion.

Ann Shannon Snodgrass

Calvin smoked a cigarette on stage. I couldn't believe a high school student would smoke. (Remember, I was a young 14). The adults were shocked, and much discussion around the dinner table kept that subject alive for quite a while. Now, tell us about the one-act plays.

Tom Pry (again)

Well, if you insist …

The late Virginia Miller was a wonderful woman and a caring teacher but, from a vantage point of years and experience in the craft she taught, I must deem her as lacking in any sense of program balance, dismissing (as do even many practitioners of the art of theatre) comedy as facile and easy.

It’s neither of those things. It IS necessary, if the audience is not to become overloaded with Dismal.

One year (and I must admit, I don’t know which one, perhaps 1955?), Virginia scheduled “An Evening of One Act Plays.” There were three one-acts involved, which can make a nice thespianistic buffet, if the plays are chosen well. Unfortunately, our Evening was two heavy dramas, followed by a self-described “tragedy,” a lumpy little 1911 group murder epic called, “A Night at an Inn,” by the pseudonymous “Lord Dunsany.”

All-boy cast, dangerous in itself at the high school level. Deliberately dimly-lit stage as all of us were killed off, one at a time (we were all bad guys, so we were essentially getting what we deserved) – and an audience that had been wallowing in dramatic excess for over two hours, with nary an opportunity to giggle, let alone guffaw.

And, finally, a creakily-built and overly-complicated set.

Put them all together, they spell not so much tragedy as calamity …..

We were doing okay until a couple of guys were crawling along behind a couch, supposedly hiding from the bad guy/thing/whatever, when they accidentally, and noisily, pulled the window curtains down on top of them. Within two minutes, something else of equal weight went wrong, and the audience was having a giggling good time – by this time, they were totally desperate for some comic relief – and it was about that time that we decided our supposed hair-raising tragedy was irretrievably shot to hell so, without any particular discussion on the subject, we started deliberately playing the whole thing for laughs. The lines were hammier, the deaths more extravagant and noisier and dragged out ….

When we got back to the classroom to get out of costume and makeup, Virginia was there, and it was the only time I could ever class her as “furious.” She lit into us with an impromptu “How could you do this to me?!?” lecture that was enough to scorch your shorts – or would have been, were it not for the parents popping in every few sputtering sentences to tell us that our tragi-comedy was, as one father put it, “One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life!”

At about comedy compliment #6, Virginia went silent, turned, and walked out.

And, to this day, I think none of us have ever mentioned that stinkeroo again.

Next question, please?


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