Life on the Stage

or, Do Actors Borrow Lives Because They Have None of Their Own?

I'm really not a "ham", yet I seem to keep finding myself on the stage. This section of my website provides me with a place to put a few recollections about this. You can navigate the site using the links in the frame on the left.

Forensics

In High School I participated in Forensics. Most people think about Forensics as being debate, but there are many other aspects to it. I participated on the debate team, in Declamation (giving speeches, sometimes prepared and sometimes impromptu), and in Dramatic Interpretation.

I specialized in the latter category, and in my senior year (1980) I was fortunate to have won First Place in the state of South Carolina for my interpretation of Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon. I owe this in part to a drama teacher (a Mr. Brooks) at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, SC. I didn't attend SVH (I attended W.J. Keenan H.S.), but Mr. Brooks assured me that it was impossible for me to place well with the material I was using. Mr. Brooks, I'm happy to have pushed back the boundaries of the impossible for you, and I thank you for the motivation.

The Harry Blacker Admiration Society

From 1985 to 1989 I was a member of the Harry Blacker Admiration Society, the community theatre group of RAF Upper Heyford in the Cotswolds of England. My roles ranged from George, the Stage Carpenter in On Monday Next to Nathan Detroit of Guys and Dolls to Victor Frankenstein, among others.

But my least likely role by far was Otis Redding, the performer famous for Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. How could such horrible miscasting happen? All too easily, as it turned out. Some film students at Oxford University were making a documentary and they needed someone to do a voiceover because (wonder of wonders!) all of the available blacks at Oxford spoke with a cultured British accent! So they came around to the airbase, did some auditions to find someone who could speak "black," and I was cast for the part, despite my obvious melanin deficiency.

This website duplicates a lot of the information that you'll find on the Harry Blacker Admiration Society's Memorial Website ; however, this site contains recollections and ruminations of my own. It may therefore be slanted in my direction; but quite frankly, since I don' t know what other people remember, that's the best I can do.

The Boogaloo Broadcasting Company

Lately I've been involved with The Boogaloo Broadcasting Company along with my family. In 2002 the citizens of the City of Union, under the leadership of Art Sutton began this community theatre project as a means of pulling together the citizens of Union and revitalizing our town through community theatre. In the opening production, Turn the Washpot Down, I played Young Robert , the tortured psyche of an older character. My brother Everett played the well-known local radio personality Carlisle Henderson, and all three of my children - William, Michael, and Timothy - played parts as well.

In preparing this original production we enjoyed the assistance of Community Performance, Inc. Director Richard Geer, writer Jules Corriere, and a talented production team assisted us in getting us off the ground and setting us on a path to success. Richard and Union's story featured prominently as the Arts feature of the August 19th, 2002 issue of People magazine (my twins are the cute ones in the hats at the center of the photo).

In 2003, we prepared a new production, completely written and produced by the people of Union: What Goes Around. I can't say enough good things about the playright, Betsy Vanderford, the director, Ralph Lawson, or any of the production staff listed in these pages. The talent we have in this small mill town is second to none (do you hear that, CPI?). In this new production I played the manager of Union's one and only theatre in the 1950s and '60s, Frank James. I'm pleased to have played opposite my son William as he portrayed a young Elvis Presley, who once visited Union prior to his success, only to be turned away ("Son, nobody knows who you are. I don't know if you could draw a crowd.") My young twins have endearing roles in the opening scene of the play; and my brother Everett plays "Red", who learns the difference between a can of Georgia hash and a shot in the face the hard way.

Boogaloo continues to do plays twice a year, and I am generally involved in the summer plays (which are documented here). As with the Harry Blacker Admiration Society, the recollections documented here are my own, and aren't an "official" chronology or accounting of the plays. As such, there's no telling what important items I've left out, or what seems to be slanted in my direction. Please keep in mind that all of these productions are huge undertakings involving many, many, people, and my own involvement is miniscule. Click on the links in the Navigator pane to find out about the latest!