By the time we got to sixth grade, the students at Mountain Elementary School were experienced thespians, having put on a play or a pageant or musical every year since beginning kindergarten. We got rave reviews from our audiences and standing ovations were par for the course. A small number of us went on to join the Olions, an extra-curricular activity for theatre enthusiasts and an even smaller number performed in civic theatre productions, but I don’t know of any who became professional actors or actresses on stage or screen.
I did major in theatre. More correctly, I majored in “speech-theatre” and only participated in the theatre part so I could justify being on the debate team at ASC. My roommate, Shari Montgomery (Monte Vista) was a real drama queen, in the best sense of the word. She could laugh one minute and shed tears on command the next. And she could sing, which was a real plus when the department staged a musical, like “Oklahoma.” If the major had not required acting in at least one performance, I’d have been content to fiddle around with the sound equipment, the lighting, designing sets and rounding up things like pitchers and vases and tea sets and whatever other what-nots were called for in the script. We had a great theatre department: Budge Threlkeld, Don Brooks and Larry Bradley. And they taught English, too!
At that time, theatre performances were staged in the auditorium in Richardson Hall but we also had a “theatre-in-the-round” upstairs. Some genius came up with the idea that we should have a play for children in that venue. Some genius that didn’t have kids, I’m guessing. That was the ONE play I had figured I could act in and not botch up too badly. And that might have worked out if the audience hadn’t decided our play could benefit from their participation. We had actors all over the “floor” and children all over the actors. It was exciting. And it really was fun. And I really did get an “A”, but what other grade could possibly have come from such a performance?
Come to think of it, I don’t remember Carlos Lucero (Antonito) acting in any of those productions, and he was on the debate team, too. Maybe he just minored in speech-theatre and majored in political science before going on to law school. ASC didn’t offer as many courses or as many major studies arenas as does ASU, and some of the departments now are bigger than the entire staff of the college back then, up to and including the guys who painted the lines on the football field.
Oh, I didn’t mention my early days’ theatrical experiences: in third grade, I was an elf in the Christmas program; in fourth grade, I was an elf in the Christmas program; in fifth grade, I was an elf in the Christmas program. By sixth grade, we put on a “real” play, “Androcles and the Lion.” I was a Christian who was dragged off stage to be devoured by the lion. It was downhill from there, culminating with being advised by one of the nuns who taught at Holy Trinity High School that my part in “Sweethearts” was a non-singing role. At least, I wasn’t an elf.
It’s been ages since I’ve watched the Oscars or the Emmys or any of the other awards programs that are televised midst much advance advertising and personal promoting. I’m convinced that most of these are nothing more but a showcasing of who can wear the least amount of finery and the most amount of borrowed jewelry while trying to not break an arm while patting themselves on the back. And Will Farrell is the only elf ever to have won an award for anything.