(another entry in the occasional series describing my adventures pursuing the MFA...)
I was cast in The Importance of Being Earnest as soon as my first semester at USC was underway. The director was Jim Patterson, who was the chair of my MFA advisory committee (they were tasked with guiding my collegiate career and making sure I didn't, you know, jump off the roof or something).
|Jim directed me in 3|
shows on campus
and 1 show after my
remained a cherished
|The guy on the right was the artistic director of Charlotte Repertory Company, where we played for two weeks on the main stage. I think his name was Keith. He was to drive the company to bankruptcy a few years later, Charlotte Rep is now defunct.|
There were a couple of casting kerfuffles surrounding the show, if I remember correctly. The actor who was meant to be playing Rev. Chasuble withdrew before rehearsals began, though I can't remember why. It was decided that the kid who was set to play the minor role of the butler, Lane, would bump up to the larger role of the reverend, and our director Jim would step in to play the butler. It was a small role, only appearing in the opening scene, but it had some importance as he and I (as Algernon) were tasked with getting the audience acquainted with the heightened language Oscar Wilde provided. Having your director onstage with you was a bit unnerving, particularly when he could not remember his lines. Well, that's a bit untrue, Jim knew all his lines, he just could never remember his entrance cues. After being late for one too many entrances, Jim finally grabbed a paintbrush and painted his cue lines directly on the backside of the scenery flat. That flat traveled with us to Charlotte, so we were set.
|Christina and Deborah took me in hand immediately, and we|
became very close very quickly.
|Mindi was a stranger to me at our first|
readthrough of Earnest. A year later,
we were very tight.
|This is the typical Mindi pose. Always|
upbeat and positive, she was to become an
important part of my life at USC.
|Steve and Mindi cashing|
their first check from
Charlotte Rep. It was the
first paycheck Mindi ever
received for acting.
The role of the psychiatrist Dysart in Equus had been on my wish list ever since I saw Brian Bedford, then Anthony Perkins, then Anthony Hopkins, then Richard Burton play it (in fact, it's STILL on my wish list). The show was being directed by my friend Richard, who was earning his MFA in Directing, which required his directing several shows on the USC mainstage. I was to appear in Richard's next show the following year, stay tuned for that story, but I dearly wanted to play in Equus. Alas, the timing would not permit doing both Earnest and Equus, so I missed my chance.
|Mindi and the famous nipple cap.|
I actually liked the group mentality which formed among the MFA candidates, we were all in this together. It was easy to touch base with my family during the long holidays, as my father and sister lived only a few hours away in Atlanta, and another sister was in Raleigh, but really, in the tradition of all theatrical experiences, my MFA cohorts were becoming family too.