For several years, participating in College Theatre plays
at Birmingham-Southern College threatened
to pry me away from my cartooning ambitions permanently.

My impulse to "show off" for anybody who would watch began in childhood
when I was given a Jerry Mahoney dummy for Christmas
along with a copy of Paul Winchell's book
Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit.

The impulse never waned.

In fact, one of my motivations for enrolling at Birmingham-Southern College
was the possibility of working with Dr. Arnold Powell,
the exciting director of the school's College Theatre
and a formidable playwright as well.

I had been attending and admiring Dr. Powell's productions for several years
while I was still a high schooler at Indian Springs.

"Arnie" (as he liked to be called)
remained an inspiration and an important artistic mentor for me
long after I graduated from BSC in 1968.

The masterful portrait of Arnie in his Hamlet chair was taken by Rowland Sherman.

Above: Here's a photo promoting
the College Theatre's production
of Friedrich Durrenmatt's The Visit.
It includes myself and some other cast members
who mounted the show during my first quarter at BSC.

Seen from left to right in the photo:
John Denson (now Rachel Stephenson);
Nancy Horn; me; Paul Grawemeyer;
Pam Walbert (later Pamela Montanaro); and Harry Mueller.

Above left: I played an eccentric professor who walks around
a small village "somewhere in Central Europe"
with white shoe polish in his hair.
Bill Matthews is standing next to me in the pic,
and sitting in the sedan chair is Pamela Payton-Wright,
who played "Claire Zacchanassian, the world's richest woman."

Above right: See me groping for a dropped jail cell key
in a scene from our version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing,
which was staged in the mode of American silent movies of the 1920s.

I can identify five of the seven BSC students in the photo.
Standing in the back of the jail cell are Fred Mauldin and Bill Barclift.
I can't remember the name of the leftmost of the four kneeling constables,
but the other three are Jim Pass, me, and Britt Leach,
who played Officer Dogberry hilariously.

(After his graduation Britt appeared as a character actor
in numerous movies and TV shows, including The Waltons.)

Above: Two scenes from the College Theatre's production
of Samuel Beckett's Endgame.
I played Nagg, the guy in the garbage can
who's being fed a dog biscuit by David Wilborn's Clov.
(Yes, I did really munch on some of that dog biscuit.
Not bad, but not so flavorful to a human's taste buds.)

In the garbage can next to me is Nell, who was played by Cathy Bankston.
And in tucked away in the right corner of the second photo
is Ed Peed, who played Hamm,
who now acts professionally in the Boston area
(as does Ed's wife Charlotte Peed).

I designed the set for our production of Endgame.
I had designed the four previous sets, actually,
but Endgame's is the only one with which
I came out fully satisfied. (The others were, well,
the heartfelt efforts of a neophyte trying his best.)


In this instance I'm referring to my pal Grady Clarkson!

Clockwise from the upper left: Grady woos Linda Clark
in the College Theatre's 1963 production of Ernest In Love;

Next: a graphic I drew for a flier promoting Grady's show One Man Stanza in New York;

Next: Grady making goofy faces for the camera;

Next: Pro-actress and fellow veteran of our Much Ado Peggy Walton Walker,
alongside Grady at a table reading of an Arnold Powell play; and finally . . .

Bottom left: Grady the freelance audio editor working from his home in Leeds, Alabama.

Above left
: Me playing doofus Thomas Dioforus in Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid
as he ineffectually woos the comedy's ingenue Angelique, who was played by Pam Walbert.

Pam and I had become "girlfriend-boyfriend" while we were in The Visit together.
That was before I (with Pam's support) came to terms with the fact that I was gay.

By now most everyone knows that Pam was my inspiration
for Ginger Raines, the character in Stuck Rubber Baby
who opens Toland Polk's eyes
in any number of ways.

(In the middle photo above you're seeing Pam as she looked
when Eddie and I visited her husband Raymond and her a few years ago.

Above left: Molly Friedel (now Molly Pilbrow) and me
assisting artist Virginia Rembert (later Virginia Pitts Rembert Liles),
with the set she designed for Peer?, a musical version of Ibsen's Peer Gynt.
Arnold Powell wrote the book and lyrics for the show;
the music was composed by Hugh Thomas.

In the middle above: The logo I designed for Peer?.

(Yes, the question mark is part of the title.)

During my senior year at BSC I enrolled in Arnie's Advanced Playwright's Lab,
which allowed me to write and direct a strange full-length play called The Sixth Story.

Seen in the montage above along with the program for that play
are castmembers Rand Christy, Bruce Sherrill, Bo Walker, Carolyn Fuller, and Lyn Spotswood.
Also in the play but not seen here were Ed Peed, Bill Roberts, and Eddie Ashworth,
(who later spent time as Executive Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Oh, yeah, I also recycled my old Jerry Mahoney dummy from childhood,
now repainted to look like the sinister being he portrayed.

Ultimately I took the cartooning path instead of the theatre path.
But designing posters and promotional images over the years
for productions of plays by playwrights like Doric Wilson, Chip Deffaa,
Arnold Powell, Leonard Bernstein, and Chris Weikel
has let me feel that I haven't totally left my theatre roots behind.


I briefly had one of those much-sought-after Actors Equity cards in 1973,
thanks to being cast (in a very minor role) in a production of Robin Hood
produced by the Atlanta Children's Theatre, which was an Equity Company.
The show's director was the late Chuck Doughty,
seen dramatically backlit on a fire escape in the cast photo above.
I'm at the top of the photo, wearing my Woodsman's garb.

Bob Carney, a staff photographer at Channel 42 in Birmingham, was nice enough
to supply me with the sterling theatrican head shot (above left)
that I submitted to ACT with my resume.

I (perhaps unwisely) allowed my Equity membership to lapse
once I realized that I was highly unlikely
to ever pursue an acting career professionally.

(If I had only held onto that membership
I could have auditioned for plays once I moved to New York
and been humiliatingly rejected regularly just like a real Broadway aspirant!)

I have ventured onstage a few times
since Eddie and I moved to the Berkshires in 2003,
purely as an amateur.

At the top left: Me waxing eloquent as garulous Constable Warren
as fellow cast member Gabby Bradley listens patiently
in Drury Drama Team's production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town;

At the top right: Me teaming up with my husband Eddie Sedarbaum
in a parody on A Christmas Carol written by Kelli Newby
and produced at Main Street Stage;

Immediately above: Me with Jackie DiGiogis
in the Main Street Stage production of Greg Freier's We Appear To Have Company.
Lurking in the inset photo is our third cast member, Andy Davis,
who portrayed the unexplained clown in the room referenced by the play's title.

My dazzling showbiz career even branched briefly out into television, folks.
Keep clicking to watch a rube meet the boob tube!

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