2018-02-21 / Editorials

Don Lively


So, yeah, I’m a thespian now.


It just means that I can add “actor” to my résumé.

Any day now I expect my Screen Actors Guild membership card to arrive.

Soon Hollywood directors and producers should be flocking to the wooded enclave seeking me out.

A star has been born.

Well, okay, maybe not.

But I did make my stage debut recently.

No really. I did.

Here’s the back story.

In my real job, the one that pays the freight, not the weekly scribbling gig, I am often contacted by various groups to assist with events that they want to bring to town. If I determine that the event is one that will benefit and advance our city, I am happy to help in any way that I can.

Several months ago I was approached by a group who wanted to bring a community theater production to town. That’s actually a dream of mine too, so I readily agreed to help however I could. I attended some planning meetings and came to know the family behind the project, a family that is well experienced in such productions. I offered to assist with promotions including recording radio spots touting the event.

I also agreed to do some rewrites to the script to make it a more localized version, changing original character and location names to some that are well known in our neck of the woods.

I was very proud of how that turned out.

Never once did it occur to me to audition for a part.

That was somebody else’s idea.

The production was a Southernized version of "A Christmas Carol", the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge, set right here in the Blessed South.

One evening I got a phone call.

“We would like you to play the role of the Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come.”

“Uh…” was all I could manage.

Then I started stuttering.


I didn’t know stagecraft from witchcraft.

I didn’t know a curtain call from a cattle call.

A cue card from a pool cue.

Once my pulse decelerated, I explained that I simply wasn’t sure that I could commit to learning lines with everything else that I had going on at the time.

“Well, the part really doesn’t have any lines. The Ghost is totally silent. In this production the Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come is embodied by a homeless man.”

No lines?


I don’t have to audition?

“No sir.”

Count me in!

I was suddenly totally enthused.

Until I remembered that my family is loaded with brothers and male cousins who have made ribbing, ragging and razzing into an art form.

I could just hear the kinsman commentary around the firepit at The Pond giving me fits, and for a few minutes acting in a play didn’t seem like such a great idea.

But, since I know plenty of embarrassing facts about every one of those waddies, I decided to proceed with reckless abandon.

As soon as I made a firm decision to commit to the role I hurried home to tell my sweet, supportive wife that I’d be playing a homeless man that transitions into the Ghost.

She told me that I was too fat to play a homeless man.

Those weren’t her exact words.

“Aren’t most homeless people sorta skinny?”


Undaunted, I began planning my wardrobe.

I dug out my old skull cap from my winter days Out West.

I ordered a stringy wig because most homeless men don’t go to the barber.

I stopped trimming my beard.

I got a baggy, oversized hoodie since my body shape apparently didn’t appear particularly underfed.

One afternoon, in the privacy of the bedroom, I tried my outfit on.

I looked great.

I immediately texted pictures to my children to get their feedback.

My daughter-in-law: “You look like a homeless, clean woman.”

My son: “An ugly, homeless woman.”

My youngest daughter: “Yeah, too clean.”

My oldest daughter: “I can’t stop laughing!”

They each earned their own harrumph.

What do they know about method acting?

The show must go on.

I learned a few other hard and fast facts about the stage.

Preparations for plays are rehearsals. Don’t get caught calling them practices.

Directors are by necessity, bossy, because even in a small town production, somebody has to herd the cats.

Stage fright is real even to actors with no lines.

After several weeks of rehearsing, our little troupe was ready to go.

Two performances in front of hundreds of people.

Thrillingly terrifying.

Next week, show time.

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