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Listen to Paul’s interview.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players… One man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. At first the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.  And then the whining school-boy… the lover,  sighing… a soldier, full of strange oaths… the justice, in fair round belly… The sixth age shifts into… the pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side… Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion: sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” 

— Shakespeare


Although I’m calling this website “a personal memoir in flux,” it is also my hope that the various sections will be of interest to people, whether they know me or not. “Out on a Lim” shares short observations on day-to-day life. “Limerances” chronicles longer remembrances of things past. “Limoscenes” presents descriptions of the plays I’ve written to date, with production photos. “Images in Limbo” shows pictures of the aging process, of me with family and friends. “Limpets” are the non-human dogs in my life, and “Limitations” are tributes to people who are no longer with us. So here I am, past imperfect, present progressive, future tense. Let me know what you think. — Paul

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary…

Through the years, I’ve had a strange love/hate relationship with Mary Doveton, the Founding Mother and Executive Director of Theatre Lawrence, formerly the Lawrence Community Theatre.  Mary directed the world premiere of my play Flesh, Flash and Frank Harris (1984); and encouraged me to direct three others of my own at LCT—Hatchet Club (1983), Chambers (1985), Lee and the Boys in the Back Room (1987).

Additionally, through the years, I’ve directed many other plays at LCT, frequently as co-productions with English Alternative Theatre (EAT), my own theatre-producing organization within the English Department at the University of Kansas.  Among these productions are Master Class by David Pownall (1986), Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard (1989), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee (1998), A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (2000).

Many stories can be told about each one of these productions, some funny, some not so funny, but nothing to seriously damage my friendship and working relationship with Mary Doveton.  And then something happened during the production of Whiteout, a new play by my student Alan Newton which Piet Knetsch was directing for EAT in the LCT space in October of 2000.  I am not yet ready to share with everyone the awful details of what happened at that time. But then, in 2007, along came someone out of the blue who inadvertently “buried the hatchet” once and for all, although not in the usual sense one uses this phrase, as to where the hatchet is buried.

In June and July of 2007, Zack Mannheimer, an enterprising young director who had grown weary of the theatre scene in New York, decided to undertake “A Survey of the American Theatre Landscape” by embarking on a remarkable journey which takes him from Pittsburgh, PA to Raleigh, NC, with 25 stops in between, to see if there is a hospitable city where he can locate his own theatre company.  He started a daily blog ( which you can read in its entirety, or you can skip ahead to what he says about Day 49 of his odyssey, in Lawrence.  I’m reproducing below, the more salient passages of his account of the separate interviews he had with Mary Doveton and myself, in our respective offices.

Post 49—Day 49: Thr 7/19/2007—Lawrence

After a shower at…Jay Hawk Motel…I leave to attend my first appointment with Mary Doveton, the Executive Director of The Lawrence Community Theatre ( Housed in an old church, the theatre is one block out of the heart of downtown on New Hampshire Street….

I am led downstairs to the offices by the receptionist who brings me into the green room.  Mary is busy speaking to another employee. Behind me sits a large-scale model for a new theatre, and I find out later that this larger space will be opening in 2009.

….Mary brings me into her book-lined office and we sit down. “I’m sorry, we only have a few minutes, I do have another appointment coming shortly.”  Mary sits before me, a strong-willed woman of about 55 who, despite her stern look, is as sweet as Moscato….We begin with the usual round of questions, and Mary answers: “This is our 31st season. We bought this space in 1984. Before that we were operating out of community centers or wherever we could find space.”

LCT has an operating budget of $325,000 of which 65% is earned through ticket prices of $14-$20. They do receive some assistance from granting organizations, but the other 35% is made up mostly through private donations and corporate sponsorship. “There isn’t much, we get about $8,000 from the Kansas Arts Commission,” Mary tells me after I ask her about state/city funding. “There isn’t a lot of public funding in Kansas.”

LCT produces 6 shows per year, recently closing Thoroughly Modern Millie to sold out houses….Mary explains that they try to produce cutting edge work, but the same people always come to that; there does not tend to be an overlap of those who come for campy musicals to something like the latest Shanley play. “Mysteries and musicals bring in the money, and that’s what we need right now.”

…..Her next appointment, who was running late, has now arrived. Before I leave I tell her about my quest to find a new city (to settle in). “Do not come here,” she warns me pointedly. “There’s just not enough room for another group.”

Mary asks me where I’m headed next. “Off to English Alternative Theatre to meet with Paul Lim,” I say.  She makes a face. Not a pleasant one.  “What?”  “O, nothing. Enjoy your talk with Paul.”

And with that, I’m on the road across town to the University where Paul is a professor. It seems, as I am gauging from Mary’s comment, that the theatre community here knows each other, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they like each other.

I’m on the phone with Paul as I cannot seem to find the building he is talking about. “I’m in a black shirt standing in a spot for you as there isn’t a lot of parking,” he says.  I arrive almost 30 minutes late to meet him, after driving repeatedly in the wrong direction down dead end streets….

“Hello!” Paul greets me as I finally pull into my reserved spot.  “I’m so sorry, I got lost.”  “Don’t worry. Come, let’s go to my office.”  I follow Paul into Wescoe Hall for the Humanities. Paul is a lively, happy man of about 60.  Originally from the Philippines, he wound up in Lawrence at KU for college, receiving his BA in 1969, his MA and becoming a GTA in 1972, a lecturer in 1978 and was granted full professorship in 1989. He is the Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professor of Playwriting in the English Department. Not the Theatre Department. Don’t mess that up.

Paul brings me into his small office jampacked with books, posters of old productions, and endless knick-knacks. I sit down beside his desk and we begin. I have so many questions for him about his company, English Alternative Theatre (, and its affiliation with the university. “EAT is the only theatre company in the country run through the English department,” he tells me….

“Since you’ve been in Lawrence for quite some time, how has it changed?”  “People used to be more adventurous,” he begins, “but that time seems to have passed. There is not a great deal of risk-taking now when it comes to theatre. Lawrence Community Theatre used to take a lot of risks, but that’s not what pays the bills anymore. Still, there is a small handful of people in the community who actually miss what they used to do.”

EAT has an annual budget of $15,000 – $20,000. Most artists are not paid, as it is almost uniformly student driven, though the designers, technicians and stage managers he brings in are given a stipend. “I don’t like them to do work for free,” Paul says.  “Does the university provide the funding?” He laughs. “We have one angel who gives us money—it’s been the same person since our inception; we founded the group together.””Who is this?” I ask curiously. Paul hands me a copy of Angels in the American Theater.  Apparently, Southern Illinois University Press, who tends to publish all the important theatrical essay books, has just put out a book about theatrical donors in America, and there is an entire article devoted to EAT’s one Angel, Grant K. Goodman. Goodman has an amazing story…there’s not enough room here to go into it, but the long and short of it is that he has always had a lifetime devotion to and love of theatre. Each year he gives EAT the full budget for the season. Paul has never run a fundraiser and has never received a grant, though they are a not-for-profit.

Angels in American Theater is an important book. Never, to my knowledge, has a book been written about the donors of American theatre. This is vital as there would be no theatre without these generous folk. For better or worse, these are the first line of defense when it comes to creating theatre in this country. While I typically abhor the wealthy paying for the art that they want, this book does not only profile the typical Broadway donors. There’s a whole chapter on EAT in Lawrence, Kansas, for god sakes. Robert A. Schanke is the editor and the brainchild behind this operation. He has edited and/or written a virtual catalog of books on American Theatre, this one being part of the Theater in the Americas series that he edits….

But back to Paul, talking about who performs in his shows “The actors come from the community and the student body. I get a lot of the disenchanted theatre students, the ones who just fall through the cracks but are talented and want to perform.”  He says this rather jollily, his round face bobbing along with his words, kindness and warmth emanating from the wide hands he speaks with. “We’ve sent about 20 students to various regional festivals of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival…and we’ve had 5 or 6 go on to win on the national level.”

“It’s all about the students,” Paul reflects.

This was such a wonderful meeting, and it was warming to be back inside a university.  For all of my dislike of what some of them do, I do miss the feeling of being inside academia. I bid farewell to Paul, and am off to The Pig downtown to continue on with my writing.

I don’t know what’s happened to Zack Mannheimer, and whether he ever actually relocated to any of the cities he visited and wrote about back in 2007.  But, it has now been nearly twelve years since I’ve stepped foot inside 1501 New Hampshire.

And now, of course, Mary Doveton is in the final stages of raising $6.2 million to build a new home for her newly-named Theatre Lawrence at 6th and Wakarusa, at the western edge of Lawrence, far away from the heart of the community.  Last I heard, as of a couple of weeks ago, she was still around $600,000 short of her goal. She needs to raise the amount before the end of September, or she’ll lose a $1.2 million out-of-state challenge grant, and that will be the end of that.

Thankfully, on September 6, Lawrence city commissioners approved giving Theatre Lawrence $100,000 ($20,000 a year for the next five years). A week later, on September 13, representatives from Theatre Lawrence asked Douglas County commissioners to do the same, to give the organization another $100,000 (also $20,000 a year for the next five years).

In its editorial on September 14, The Lawrence Journal-World wrote:

“After making a successful funding pitch to the Lawrence City Commission last week, representatives of Theatre Lawrence, the former Lawrence Community Theatre, have decided to extend their tour with a stop at the Douglas County Commission…to ask county officials to make a similar commitment….To many local taxpayers, this seems like a double-dip….The theater received a generous contribution last week in the form of $100,000 in city taxpayer money. The decision now to ask the county to match that amount may be over-reaching. A large majority of county residents already will be contributing to the fund through the city’s contribution.  Should they be asked to give again through the county?

“Theatre Lawrence says it needs the money to reach its $6.2 million fundraising goal by the end of this month and collect a $1 million out-of-state challenge grant.  We hope they are successful in meeting their goal, but, especially at a time when local government dollars are in such high demand to fund essential services, the city’s contribution of local tax dollars may be enough.”

Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about Mary Doveton a great deal these past couple of weeks.  And I’ve just reread what Zack Mannheimer had to say about Mary when he mentioned my name.  What I’m wondering now, of course, is whether or not to bury the hatchet, this time in the usual sense of the phrase, by giving Theatre Lawrence a bunch of money before the end of September.  If I do so, maybe Mary will no longer make a face, an unpleasant one, the next time my name is brought up in casual conversation.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockle-shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.


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12 September 2011: Giving a Stranger a Hug on 9/11

Yesterday evening, being utterly exhausted from watching the heart-breaking non-stop TV-coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, some friends and I decided to take a break by attending a wonderful non-9/11 “celebration of music and art from the 17th to 19th centuries” in the central court of the Spencer Museum of Art  on the KU campus. We had great seats on the front row, and we were in for a real treat. On hand were two superb artists from the KU School of Music, vocalist Genaro Mendez, accompanied on the piano by Robert Hiller, in a concert of songs by Purcell, Beethoven, Liszt, and Tosti.

Moments before the concert began, I noticed that the dapper-looking gentleman in his 60’s sitting on my right, who seemed to be saving a couple of seats to his right, kept turning his head to look at other folks who were arriving for the concert.  Trying to make chit-chat, I smiled and asked him, “Are you waiting for friends?”

“No,” he replied woefully, “I have no friends.”

“Oh, you poor man,” I mumbled sympathetically.  “Would you like a hug?”

His face broke out in a smile, so I reached over and hugged him.  Then I heard someone laughing behind us.  I turned to look.  It was Joyce Castle, the opera singer, now also on the music faculty at KU. “You should hug him back,” she said to the stranger I had just hugged.  Which he did, promptly. And then the wonderful concert began.

At the reception following the concert, someone told me that the dapper-looking stranger whom I had hugged so spontaneously, and who had hugged me back with equal enthusiasm, was Shade Little, the husband of KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

And that’s how I will choose to remember September 11, 2011.


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4 September 2011: Camouflage Diapers For Babies!

As a former advertising man, I’m intrigued by the announcement that Huggies is offering a new line of camouflage diapers. Since babies don’t buy their own diapers, I find myself wondering which adults are being targeted in groceries and supermarkets to purchase this specialty item—Aggressive military recruitment officers eager to catch them while they’re still in the cradle?  New mothers whose husbands are deployed everywhere around the world where America has troops?  Our hawkish leaders in Congress who voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to give as gifts to all their expectant constituents?  Or maybe anyone in America who still believes in the rallying cry from the flower children to “make love, not war,” and to “give peace a chance”?  After all, there’s no camouflaging what diapers are for, and that’s to catch and collect shit so that we can dispose of the shit as cleanly and efficiently as possible without soiling ourselves. “Shit on War” or “Poop for Peace,” take your pick.  I’m just glad Huggies is not making Stars-and-Stripes diapers.  Not yet, anyway.

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30 August 2011: Is Michele Bachmann’s God Laughing?

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota now claims she was just kidding when she said Hurricane Irene and the earthquake centered in Virginia last week were a warning from God to politicians.

“Of course I was being humorous when I said that,” the comical presidential candidate laughed reassuringly. “I am a person who loves humor. I have a great sense of humor.”

The religious congresswoman ought to be more careful with her jokes.  There is no evidence whatsoever in the Bible that her God has a sense of humor.  The last thing she wants to find are lice in her big new hairdo, or for it to start raining frogs in her home state of Minnesota, just two of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, according to the Book of Leviticus.

Be afraid, Michele. Be very afraid.



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27 August 2011: Placenta for Dinner!

First, there was news that “Baby Gaga,” a specialty ice cream made from mothers’ breast milk, was selling like, if you’ll pardon the expression, hot cakes, at The Icecreamist store in London.  And now, according to “The Placenta Cookbook,” an article in this week’s New York magazine, “For a growing number of new mothers, there’s no better nutritional snack after childbirth than the fruit of their own labor.”

One woman is quoted thus:  “When I was pregnant, I just craved organs. I’d go to Diner (a Williamsburg restaurant) and order beef hearts, marrow…so the placenta just made sense.  After I gave birth, I threw a chunk of placenta in the Vitamix with coconut water and a banana.  It gave me the wildest rush.”

When is cannibalism not cannibalism?  Also, one wonders, what next?  Tossed salads garnished not with bacon bits but with crispy foreskins from routine circumcisions?  Pate made from stomach lint? Energy drinks flavored with salt from one’s own sweat?  Some dogs have been known to eat their own fecal matter.  Perhaps we can learn something from Man’s Best Friend.  Waste not, want not.

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24 August 2011: Moms Need Mars!

Here’s good news for unemployed moms in Kansas who are looking for work.

Mars Chocolate is building a new $250 million candy factory south of Topeka which is expected to create about 200 permanent full-time jobs in northeast Kansas. The plant, which will produce M&Ms and Snickers candies, is the first new chocolate factory Mars has built in 35 years. Calorie production should begin in 2013, and Mars officials say the project has the potential to create nearly 1000 direct and indirect jobs in Kansas, including temporary jobs relating to the factory construction and building supplies.

In other related news, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment Bureau for Children, Youth and Families has just released a study which indicates that the prevalence of obesity among adults in Kansas has increased by almost 70 percent since 1992. More than one in five adult Kansans are now obese, and almost three in five (including children) are at least overweight.

Okay, don’t snicker. But I bet the new working moms in Topeka will be bringing home more than just their fat paychecks once the factory is in full production.  Along with extra pocket change, how about fringe benefits like sacks full of M&Ms for the chubby kids to snack on while they’re playing their favorite video games?

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19 August 2011: The Logic to Brownback’s Madness

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has just signed into law three controversial measures related to his own personal religious anti-abortion beliefs.  This, in the wake of his shutting down not just planned parenthood clinics in Kansas, but also the Kansas Arts Commission, and the SRS office in Lawrence.  Additionally, let’s not forget his raising the speed limit on Kansas interstate highways from 70 to 75 mph, plus the persistent rumor that he intends to get rid of the mandatory seat belt law in Kansas because it’s just one more sign of Big Government intervention in the lives of private citizens.

Well, I’ve decided that there’s good logic to Gov. Brownback’s seeming madness.  If getting rid of planned parenthood and abortion in Kansas increases the population and thus also the poverty-level of Kansans, leading to more Kansans in need of Social and Rehabilitation Services, then the figures will all even out after you factor in the number of Kansans who will speedily speed to their deaths (with or without their seat belts on) while getting away with driving 80 mph under the new 75 mph limit.

Of course, that’s just physical mortality.  So, what about the arts and art education?  Forget it.  In dire economic times, the arts are luxuries.  No need to feed the soul when bodies need to be fed first. Plant wheat, corn and soybeans. Raise pigs, cows and chickens.  Chairman Mao had the same idea for China back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and look where they are now. The Chinese own America, so now they can afford to enjoy the artistic fruits of our democracy. What’s good enough for the Chinese should be good enough for Kansans.

Coming soon to a bookstore near you:  BROWNBACK’S LITTLE RED BOOK FOR BLEEDING KANSAS.

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11 August 2011: Eat the Rich!

According to Dr. Philip Kramer, director of the Caribbean program for the Nature Conservancy, a good way to take care of problematic invasive species like the lionfish, Asian carp and European green crabs, is to find another predatory species that will eat them to extinction. And that means you and me.  “Humans are the most ubiquitous predators on earth,” says Dr. Kramer.  “Instead of eating something like shark fin soup, why not eat a species that is causing harm and, with your meal, make a positive contribution?”

This, too, may be a solution for all our current economic woes in America.  When the starving unemployed masses in America can no longer put food on the table, they can always look to the millionaires and billionaires whose tax cuts the Republicans in Congress are trying to protect. Eat the rich. That’s true trickle down econo-meals.

Stephen Sondheim was way ahead of his time when he wrote about all this in one of his musicals. For recipes on how to prepare a rich array of meat pies, consult Mrs. Lovett’s cookbook in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

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4 August 2011: Obama’s Twelve Apostles

As President Obama turns 50 today, leaders in Congress have all of two weeks to choose the twelve legislators (from within their divisive political parties) who will become members of The Super Committee that will recommend further deficit and debt reduction ideas by November.  The sanctified twelve will be made up of three House Democrats, three Senate Democrats, three House Republicans, and three Senate Republicans.

In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus chose his own twelve apostles.  President Obama does not get to do this, so we are all waiting to see who gets to be Simon Peter, Simon the Zealot, James the Greater, James the Less, John, Andrew, Thomas, Thaddeus, Philip, Bartholomew and, of course, Matthew the Tax Collector, who will be in charge of increasing and collecting revenue from people making more than $250,000 a year.

But, wait.  That’s only eleven out of the twelve.  These days, frequently being in denial, I neglected to mention the most important apostle of all—Judas Iscariot, who will betray President Obama for 30 pieces of silver from Wall Street.  Now, who could that be?

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2 August 2011: Steve Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

According to figures released recently by TechCrunch, during the third quarter of 2011, thanks to the public’s love affair with the iPhone and the iPad, Apple now has $75,876 billion in cash on-hand, while the U.S. government has only $73,768 billion.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, as John McCain wrongly believed, these American products were actually made in America?  But, sadly, being the brilliant CEO that he is, Steve Jobs has exported the Jobs, Jobs, Jobs overseas—to China, where money now grows on trees, like apples.

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