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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

13 December 2015: No Bel In My Canto

I read Ann Patchett’s BEL CANTO shortly after it came out in 2001.  The diva in the novel was said to have been inspired by opera star Renee Fleming.  So when Fleming announced nearly five years ago that she had optioned the novel for a new opera to premiere at the Lyric in Chicago (music by Peruvian-American composer Jimmy Lopez, and libretto by Pulitzer-winning Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz), you could almost taste the excitement in the air.

And then, when it was revealed that Danielle de Niese had been engaged to sing the part of the diva at the Lyric during its 2015 holiday season, I could no longer contain my excitement.  Just as Mr. Hosukawa in the novel had fallen in love with Roxane Coss from the first moment he heard one of her recordings, I have been in love with Danielle de Niese ever since I saw her on DVD as Cleopatra in the Glyndebourne production of Handel’s GIULIO CESARE.  With no hesitation whatsoever, I reached for my wallet, deciding this would be my extravagant Christmas present to myself this year.

I loved Ann Patchett’s novel.  One reason is that, in spite of the large cast of characters, because the narrative is told from the omniscient point-of-view and we are privy to everyone’s thoughts, we feel as though we know each one of them intimately.  I wondered how Nilo Cruz would handle this in his libretto.  Sadly, in my opinion, he didn’t. Except for two arias given to two secondary characters in the second act of the opera, we are mostly just outsiders observing the action, and we remain mostly unmoved. Danielle de Niese looked petulantly beautiful, but I thought she was otherwise completely wasted.

Sometimes I wish I weren’t a writer or a playwright. If I voice any negative opinions about somebody else’s work, I risk being accused of having pen envy. But, truthfully, last night at the Lyric in Chicago, I did not enjoy my Christmas present to myself. There was no bel in my canto.  Be that as it may, the opera will probably go on to win the No-Bel Prize in Music.

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11 December 2015: The Ladies and the Trump

Donald Trump’s mother was a Scottish immigrant.

To date, he has been married to three lovely ladies, two of whom are East European immigrants.  First there was Ivana Zelnickova from Czechoslovakia, who gifted him with three children, one girl and two boys.  Then came Marla Maples from Georgia (in the United States, not the one in the former Soviet Union), who produced only two children, a boy and a girl.  Finally, there’s Melania Knauss from Sevnica, Slovenia, who has narrow hips and has yet to reproduce.

Thus far, as far as we know, Donald Trump has seven grandchildren.  His first-born, Ivanka, converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner, and together they have two children, a boy and a girl, but a third is on the way.  Donald Jr. has outdone Ivanka by having five children, two girls and three boys. So there is no danger of the line ever dying out.

Since we already have one Trump progeny converting from their father’s Presbyterian faith to Judaism, let’s hope that, in future, none of the other Trumps and Trumpettes ever become Muslims, radicalized or otherwise.


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9 December 2015: “I am Spartacus!”

When I was applying for a visa to visit the United States in the late 1960s, the many forms I had to fill out were full of questions like, “Are you a communist?”  “Have you ever been a communist?”  “Are you a homosexual?”  “Do you intend to become a homosexual?”

Then, in the early 1980s, friends visiting from overseas report that they were asked additional questions like,  “Are you a drug addict?”  “Are you an intravenous drug user?”  “Are you HIV-positive?”  “Do you have AIDS?”

And now, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to stop all Muslims from entering the United States because they might be terrorists.  This he intends to accomplish by simply asking, “Are you Muslim?  ‘Fess up!  Are you a Muslim?”

One of the essential freedoms guaranteed all Americans is the freedom of worship.  Those among us who are horrified by Trump’s stigmatization of an entire religion, who see inevitable parallels to the persecution of Jews by Adolf Hitler, ought not to sit idly by and do nothing.

Remember Spartacus?  At the end of that movie, when the frustrated Roman soldiers demanded to know where Spartacus was hiding, his many followers all stepped forward, one by one, each one proudly declaring, “I am Spartacus!”  If it should ever become necessary, those of us traveling abroad, upon returning to these United States, in solidarity with our non-Christian brethren, we too can proclaim, “I am Muslim!” 


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8 December 2015: Trump Card? Trump Crud!

Why do I make sure my house is clean before the cleaning people come?

Why do I throw out things in the refrigerator before their expiration date?

Why do I brush and floss my teeth before visiting  the dental hygienist?

Why do I shower and clean every orifice in my body before seeing the doctor?

Why do I watch and listen to a card like Trump on TV before going to the toilet?

Because it always feels good to get rid of crud—any time, any where—even before next November, in the polling booth.

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6 December 2015: What Have They Done to Roses and Pine Trees?

For many years now, I’ve wondered why roses no longer smell as sweetly as they used to, that they frequently have no smell at all, so I looked for answers on the internet, and here’s what I learned from my smart phone.

There are at least three reasons why, these days, a rose is not a rose is not a rose, and why a rose by any other name no longer smells as sweet.  First, roses are now being “cultivated to last longer in a vase, and the rule of thumb is, that the stronger the smell the lesser the vase life.”  Second, horticulturists have been breeding roses with larger flowers, and “one side effect of this breeding is that the larger roses don’t have the smell that the smaller roses had.”  Third, when two separate species of roses are hybridized, you get a new species and “this often takes the scent out of it.”

Naturally, this started me thinking about human beings, and how many among us spend a lot of money to make sure we don’t offend others by our smell.  Can we learn anything about ourselves from what’s happened to roses?  As science keeps us alive longer, do we begin to smell less as nonogenarians than when we were toddlers?  Does the same thing happen when we outgrow our scrawny teenage selves and blossom out to our full physical potential on the buffet line?  Finally, do the children of mixed marriages have no use for underarm deodorants?

Here’s one more thing.  With Christmas fast approaching, there is no shortage of pine trees for sale in front of hardware and grocery stores.  Have you noticed that, as you walk by them, none of these antiseptic evergreens exude any hint of pine or camphor?   In the late 1960s, there were popular protest songs which asked questions like “What have they done to the rain?” and “Where have all the flowers gone?”  Sad to say, “The answer is blowing in the wind.”  Nuclear arms continue to proliferate; and deadlier wars are now killing more people than ever—in schoolyards and college campuses, in movie theaters and shopping malls, in bars and restaurants, in health clinics and convention centers, on the very streets of the cities where we live.

Yes, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” but it doesn’t smell or feel like Christmas.  Not anymore.


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4 December 2015: Sweet Smell of Success!

Somewhat optimistically, we set up 50 seats for the December 3rd staged reading of Flesh, Flash and Frank Harris at the Lawrence Public Library.  To my astonishment, as the crowds poured in, we had to add another ten chairs to accommodate everyone.  I was thrilled, not for myself, but for the actors, whose wonderful work after only three short rehearsals truly deserved to be seen by as many people as possible.  Herewith, my personal note of thanks to each and every one of them:

Benjamin Good (Young Frank) is new to me.  I ran into Margaret Kramar, his mother, at the local farmer’s market a couple of months ago.  I had worked with Margaret before. When I asked if she would like to participate in the upcoming staged reading of my play, she not only said yes, but also introduced me to her son, saying he had done some acting as well.  After speaking to him briefly, I cast him on the spot.

Will Averill (Middle Frank) was one of my earliest playwriting students in the English Department at K.U.  He wrote a delightfully nightmarish play called The Sea, which English Alternative Theatre (EAT) produced in the early 1990s.  The play called for a grotesque 9-foot tall articulated female puppet, so we constructed one, and brought her with us to a fancy cocktail party Chancellor Robert Hemenway was giving at his residence on campus.  Since then, Will has also appeared as an actor in innumerable EAT shows, including his star turn as a nerdy young Hugh Hefner who accidentally hits on the idea of publishing a girlie magazine called Playboy.  Our production of Bunnies by Michael O’Brien was subsequently invited for performances at the national festival of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.

Dean Bevan (Old Frank) is another one new to me.  I don’t know why we haven’t had the opportunity to work together before, but I am so glad he was available for this reading.  He commands attention on stage with his powerful voice and presence, and his line readings are absolutely spot-on.  He kept asking me for notes after each of our three rehearsals, but I really had no notes for him.  I hope to work with him again, and again.

Jeanne Averill (Nita Harris, Helen “Nellie” O’Hara) was in the original 1980 production of the play at the Lawrence Community Theatre when it was still in the old Carnegie Library building.  Back then, Jeanne played Frank’s timid illegitimate daughter Frances Congden.  For this production, she has graduated into the part of Frank’s shrewish second wife.  I first saw Jeanne in an experimental production of a play called Telemachus Clay sometime in the mid-1970s.  I remember very little about the play itself, except for one line Jeanne uttered:  “I’m not crying.  It’s the rain on my face.”  It was heart breaking and, to this day, I still hear echoes in my mind of how she uttered that line.

Kitty Steffens (Laura, Young Kate Stephens, Yolande) is someone whose work I had been impressed by, in various Card Table Theatre productions. I first worked with her earlier this year in the staged reading of Collected Stories, the prize-winning play by Donald Margulies, also at the Lawrence Public Library.  There is something luminescent and magical about Kitty on stage, and I am so happy we got to work together again on this one.

Cynthia Evans (Anne Harris, Mrs. Lorna Mayhew, Mr. Scully, Princess Alice) is another one who goes all the way back to early 1990s with EAT, sometimes as a scenic designer, more frequently as an actress.  Among her most memorable performances are Ruth, the enigmatic siren in Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming; and the cranky old ax-wielding backwoods woman in Topple the World, an original script by Ken Willard.

John Younger (Thomas Harris, George Bernard Shaw) is a god-send, someone who can do no wrong in whatever role he undertakes on stage.  For me, he has been Creon in Antigone, and also the Older Tom Wingfield in my production of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, in which I decided to split Tom into a younger and an older self, in much the same way I split Frank Harris into three different selves in Flesh, Flash and Frank Harris.  Besides being a Classics professor, John is also an archeologist who has been digging at sites in Crete for many years.  He plans to retire soon, to move to Crete to be among his beloved ruins. which will leave a big hole in the local theatre scene.

James Carothers (Mr. Kendrick, Oscar Wilde) is a distinguished professor in the English Department at KU, who has also distinguished himself as an actor in various EAT productions through the years, appearing in almost all our Labor Day staged readings, most memorably with colleagues James Hartman and the late Bernard “Bud” Hirsch in our presentation of Art by Yasmina Reza in the auditorium of Spencer Art Museum.

Shawn Trimble (Byron Caldwell Smith, Reporter, Masked Man), like Will Averill, was one of my earliest playwriting students.  He was a Religious Studies major when I first knew him, and he wrote a deeply philosophical Nietzschean play called The Abyss, which EAT produced.  Since then, Shawn has appeared as an actor, not just with EAT, but also with EMU and Lawrence Community Theatre in all its incarnations.

Stephen Moles (William Harris, Rev. Verschoyle, Priest, Policeman, Reporter, Servant) is another one of my playwriting students.  After graduating from K.U., he left for New York and attended Columbia University, where he discovered his true passion for creative non-fiction.  I’m delighted he hasn’t abandoned theatre altogether.

Margaret Kramar (Mrs. Emily Clayton, Old Kate Stephens, Baroness) is a lecturer in the English Department at K.U.  In 2010, when we lost an actor in EAT’s production of What Really Happened, an original script by Benjamin Smith, she gamely stepped in and learned the part just days before we opened.  She was a joy to work with then, and she’s a joy to work with now.

Amy Devitt (Frances Congden, May Congden, Erika Lorenz) is another distinguished professor in the English Department at K.U.  Like Jim Carothers, she has participated in a long list of staged readings for EAT, and was Amanda Wingfield in our full production of The Glass Menagerie.  I’ve always thought she would make a terrific Mary Tyrone in Eugene Oneill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, but I retired before we could do that one.  Maybe I can talk Card Table Theatre into mounting a full production of this one with her in it.

Karl Ramberg (Mr. Sumner, Prince of Wales, Judge) was in the very first EAT production back in 1990, a double-bill of Susan Sontag’s The Way We Live Now and Terence McNally’s Andre’s Mother.  Karl reprised the part he played in a staged reading of the same double-bill when I retired in 2010.  In between, Karl has appeared in at least half a dozen other EAT productions, most notably as a homeless man in Upright, an original script by James Hilburn.  He also frequently composed original music which he performed live for many of our productions—cello music for Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, and piano music for Susan Sontag’s The Way We Live Now, as well as Loraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.

I’ve been blest, to have been served by such fine actors.  I am so glad there was an enthusiastic audience to see their marvelous work in our staged reading of Flesh, Flash and Frank Harris on December 3rd at the Lawrence Public Library.  Thank God for family and relatives, for Facebook friends, and for social media.  In the waning days of fading print, it is social media that’s helping us to get the word out to potential audiences for theatre.

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My Life As A Publicist (?!?!!)

Back in 1959, when my all-male Catholic high school in Manila staged The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial by Herman Wouk, the Christian Brother (F.S.C.) in charge of the drama club arbitrarily assigned me to take care of publicity.  I was all of fifteen years old.  What did I know about writing press releases, or how to go about getting the newspapers to publish them?

There were five metropolitan newspapers in Manila at that time, so I bought and studied them all, analyzing the many news and photo releases, little realizing this would lead to my life as a publicist.  Back then, not only did I write the press releases, I also hand-delivered them lovingly to the offices of all five metropolitan newspapers, even managing to befriend some of the editors at each paper.  I think they were amused by how determined I was to get my drivel published.  Thus, I became the go-to guy whenever any of the campus organizations at La Salle needed publicity for whatever events they were sponsoring.

Some years later, when I was a very bored and disaffected freshman at Ateneo University in the outskirts of Manila, two of my newspaper contacts started their own public relations agencies, and they both asked me to help on a part-time basis as their Man Friday.

Monching Lopez handled all the publicity for an upscale theater which showed M-G-M movies exclusively.  Through him, I got to meet some movie stars who came to the Philippines to promote the films they were in—e.g., Alain Delon for Henri Verneuil’s Any Number Can Win (he was rakishly charming), and Sue Lyon for Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (she was surprisingly shy).

Borromeo Rausa handled all the publicity for the new Araneta Coliseum, reputed to be the world’s largest domed coliseum at that time, modeled after Madison Square Garden in New York.  Besides huge sporting events, the Araneta Coliseum also brought in a wide array of popular American entertainers, among them Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt, Johnny Mathis, the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Neil Sedaka.  I hope to write about my close encounters with the starry kind sometime in the near future.

And then I dropped out of college altogether in 1962, going to work as an advertising copywriter for J. Walter Thompson for four years, and then for Philippine Advertising Counselors for two years, the exact same period covered by the hit television series Mad Men.  Like Don Draper, I sold my soul to the devil, and when I could no longer stomach the trivia that ruled my daily existence, I quit and left for the United States in June of 1968.  Sometime in the near future, I hope also to write about my life as Don Draper.

In the United States, I went back to school at the University of Kansas, where I took writing classes from Ed Wolfe in the English Department, and Ron Willis in the Theatre Department.  Thanks to these two inspiring and encouraging professors, for the next twenty years, I wrote short stories and plays, things of more substance and permanence than press releases and advertising copy.

And then it began all over again.

When I was hired by the English Department at K.U. to teach playwriting in 1989, it became evident very quickly that the only way my playwriting students can grow as playwrights, is for them to be able to see and hear their words performed by actors who can act, in front of audiences who can react, in order to get valuable feedback for their visions and revisions.  And so I founded English Alternative Theatre (EAT), a one-man band in which I had to do practically everything—from booking rehearsal spaces, to directing, to helping with scenic and lighting designs, to gathering props and costumes, to keeping tab on all receipts and accounting for all expenditures and, last but not least, to writing press releases!

Of all these tasks, the last one now proved to be the most difficult.  What’s the point of mounting a production, rehearsing every night for four or five weeks, if you can’t get the word out to audiences?  How do you write press releases referring to yourself in the third person without seeming self-serving, full of hubris?  Ultimately, this was the last straw.  When I retired from teaching in 2010, and English Alternative Theatre was finally laid to rest, the biggest relief was that I did not have to write any more press releases, no longer had to beat my own drum.

But not for long.

After a hiatus of five years, I’ve decided to direct a couple of staged readings of plays for Card Table Theatre at the Lawrence Public Library.  Last summer, we had only 16 people in the audience for one performance of Collected Stories, a prize-winning play by Donald Margulies.  And  tonight (December 3, 2015 at 7 PM), we will have one performance of my play Flesh, Flash and Frank Harris.  There are fourteen actors playing over forty parts in this play.  Their wondrous work deserves to be seen.  What if we get less people in the audience than there are actors on stage?  And so, two weeks ago, I began to write press releases again.  To quote T.S. Eliot:  “In my end is my beginning.”

I sent the items to the only newspaper in Lawrence, but as of today, no ink has been wasted on us.  Print has not been helpful this time, but will social media come to the rescue?  Will the family and relatives of the actors, and all our Facebook friends in the area, help save the day?  Will enthusiastic hordes beat down the auditorium doors at 7 tonight at the Lawrence Public Library?

Watch this space.

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3 December 2015: The New Lord’s Prayer

Our NRA Father, which art in America,

Hallowed be thy Second Amendment.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in schoolyards and college campuses,

As it is in movie theaters and convention centers.

Give us this day our daily massacre.

And forgive us our assault weapons,

As we slaughter them that trespass against us.

And lead us also into abortion clinics,

To deliver unborn babies from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

The fire power, and the shooting glory,

For ever and ever.


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My Life As An Actor (?!?!!)

For some unfathomable reason, in the summer of 1969, when I was a new student at the University of Kansas, I decided to audition for a couple of Shakespeare plays being presented on the main stage at Murphy Hall.  On the form that I filled out at the audition, I indicated that I did not want any major speaking parts, that even just a walk-on would be fine, because I merely wanted to see what it was like to be “an actor.”  To my surprise, I was called back and cast in not one but both of the Shakespeare plays.

The first production was Julius Caesar, directed by Jack Brooking, who was reputed to be the best director in the theatre department at that time.  I did triple duty—as a revolting peasant (along with Ric Averill and many others) in the crowd scene cheering Caesar’s triumphant return to Rome at the top of the play; then as a soldier fighting bravely alongside Marc Antony; after which us soldiers flipped the front panels on our shields and we suddenly became soldiers fighting alongside Brutus.  Late in the play, I was a sentry overlooking Brutus’ camp. It was my job to climb a tall scaffold, to stand guard and alert everyone about approaching strangers.  Whenever this happened, I was to shout out the one and only line I had in the play, “What, ho!”  I practiced the line endlessly, trying out many variations.  Only trouble was, I discovered during rehearsals that I suffered from a severe case of vertigo. It was impossible for me to stand still on top of that tall scaffold, trying not to look down, sweat streaming down my forehead, into my eyes, which I could not wipe because I was supposed to be standing at attention, ever ready to shout “What, ho!”  I had visions of me plunging from that scaffold, breaking every bone in my body.  To this day, I don’t know how I survived the ordeal.  The only note I got from the director after each rehearsal was that my “What, ho!” needed to be more vigorously forceful, with an exclamation point, rather than timidly uncertain, with a question mark.  (When I shared this story years later in one of my classes in the English department at KU, an innocent sophomore asked if all my warning shouts of “What, ho!” meant there were prostitutes offering their services to soldiers on the battlefield at that time, and whether this contributed to The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.)

The second production I was in that theatrical summer of 1969 was The Taming of the Shrew, directed by guest director Jerome Kilty.  In this one, I was a cowering servant in the household of Petruccio, suffering all the physical abuses he heaped upon us.  It was a fun production, and there were great parties after many of the rehearsals, one of which I hosted at 1108 Avalon Road, the house near campus I was living in at the time.  I had such a good experience with this production, I tried out the following year for my third and final appearance as an actor.

This time, it was One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Dale Wasserman’s adaptation of the novel by Ken Kesey, to be presented in the tiny black box at Murphy Hall.  The director was Piet Knetsch, an amiable graduate student originally from the Netherlands.  I told Piet the same thing, that I wanted only a small part, preferably with no lines to learn.  He was most accommodating, and cast me as Ellis, a catatonic inmate who identified with the crucified Christ, arms forever outstretched.  Ellis also happens to be incontinent, and the other inmates make fun of him mercilessly whenever they catch him wetting himself on the cross.  I asked Piet how we were going to achieve this rite of passage, and he said nonchalantly, “Drink lots of water before the show, but wait till final dress.”  When final dress finally arrived, I did indeed drink lots of water, and I did indeed pee on cue, warm streams marking their progress down my green pajama bottoms.  The lights in the small space we were performing in were really hot, and soon you could see the steam rising from where I stood.  Piet quickly called for a break, and the costume designer was asked to hook up a clever device which would allow me to “relieve” myself more hygienically. Thus, all ten performances of the play went well, even though I thought it was rather sacrilegious for people to laugh at the crucified Christ wetting Himself.  Six hours on that cross, from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon.  Surely, He had to go.  He was human, after all.  The Redemption would have been meaningless had He not really died on a Friday, and then really resurrected on Sunday.

As for me, I never appeared as an actor on stage again, after that.  But my admiration for what actors do continues unabated, especially these past couple of days, when I have been in rehearsal with a very talented cast of 13 actors, directing them for a free staged reading of my play Flesh, Flash and Frank Harris at 7 PM on Thursday, December 3rd, at the Lawrence Public Library.  Come, and be amazed.  No one pees on stage, but Old Frank does give a vivid description at one point of how he uses a special enema of his own invention.

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30 November 2015: Spawns of Ron Willis…

There’s a wonderful profile piece in the Lawrence Journal-World this morning about the indefatigable Ric Averill, founder of the pioneering local theater group called the Seem-To-Be-Players from the 1970s, and current director of performing arts at the Lawrence Arts Center.

In the article, Mary Doveton says this about Ric:  “He’s like any of us that are working in the creative arts.  You get an idea and you run with it.  It’s exciting and exhilarating, and you gather people around you that are like-minded, and everybody feeds off everybody.  Rick’s a really creative guy, and he’s always got a positive attitude, and he makes people feel good about themselves.”

Mary Doveton is, of course, herself “The Force” who founded the Lawrence Community Theatre, also in the 1970s, an organization which, in its early days, nurtured original scripts and produced three of my plays:  Hatchet Club, Chambers, and Flesh, Flash and Frank Harris.  Mary encouraged me to direct the first two, but undertook to direct the third one herself.  And now, 35 years later, I am myself directing a staged reading of Flesh, Flash and Frank Harris.  We are presently in rehearsal for just one performance at 7 PM on Thursday, December 3rd at the Lawrence Public Library.  I have 14 very fine actors in the cast.  When they ask me for notes, all I can think of is Mary back in 1980 telling the original cast they must “SPARKLE! SPARKLE! SPARKLE!”  I don’t know how to top that, so I’m just telling my actors to “twinkle… twinkle… twinkle…” like the little stars that they are.

Today’s article about Ric Averill reminds me of another piece in the Lawrence Journal-World from (I think) the late 1990s, in which Prof. Ronald A. Willis was being interviewed about the theatre scene in Lawrence.  By then, besides Ric Averill’s Seem-To-Be-Players and Mary Doveton’s Lawrence Community Theatre, there was also Jackie Davis at the helm of the new Lied Center; my own English Alternative Theatre (EAT), which I founded primarily to produce the original scripts being written by my students; and Andy Stowers’ EMU Theatre was also waiting in the wings.  We had all studied at one time or another with Ron. In that article, Ron in his characteristic way laughed and said that attendance at theatrical events being presented at Murphy Hall was dwindling because the K.U. Theatre Department had “spawned its own competition.”  He named the organizations, but not the names of the students he had spawned.

Ronald A. Willis died at home at age 79 on March 6, 2015, of congestive heart failure.  A wonderfully celebratory memorial service was held at the Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall on Saturday, March 14, at 3 PM.  I could not be there because I was not in Lawrence at the time, but I have now watched the entire 79-minute tribute several times on YouTube.  Two of his three sons spoke, two of his granddaughters spoke, a sprinkling of colleagues and former students spoke.  Among the latter, lots of other spawns, but none of them from the local theatre scene.


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