Saturday, May 7, 2016

Where Did We Go Wrong?

 Toward the end of the Fall semester at PC in 1974, I was cast in the lead role for a play called "Where Did We Go Wrong?"  It was a Christmas-themed play about the 4th Wise Man, and his goal to make money on souvenirs at the birth of Jesus.  He was consumed with the commercialization of Christmas. 
 We didn't have much in the way of props.  One of the funnier moments in the play was when he invents a car, because he hates camels.  We used 4 stools to represent the inside of the car, and much of the action was mimed.  It was hard to work out some stuff like everyone leaning to the left or right when making turns in the car.  The play had a lot of funny moments, but the end was very serious.
 We did a preview performance of the play at our theatre, and then we took it on the road.  We went to 2 churches in Clinton, and both were well received.  We then set out for Atlanta.  Our first performance was at the North Decatur Presbyterian Church.  All went well. 
 Our second performance in Atlanta was at the Druid Hills Presbyterian Church.  As I wrote in an earlier blog, I had been introduced to alcohol at PC.  It had been about a year since my first taste, and now I was a seasoned professional.  Earlier in that day, before the performance that night, I went with some friends to a bar at the top of our hotel in Atlanta.  I drank several Vodka Collins.  If you ever hear a drunk say that they can handle it, don't believe them.  We got to the church, and I could barely stand up.  Thankfully, much of the play required me to sit, so I didn't fall down.  However, one very scary thing happened.  I did all of my lines perfect.  My characterization was great.  My acting was great.  The scary thing came after the play.  People came backstage and told me it was the best performance they had ever seen.  They were comparing me to Olivier and DeNiro.  They were telling me that I was the best actor.  Others in the cast were fawning over me.  I couldn't remember a thing about what I had done on stage.  I had basically performed the lines on auto-pilot.  One of the actors told me that he could tell I was "different", but he couldn't put his finger on what it was.  I was drunk.  Because it was due to vodka, no one smelled it on my breath.  I only wished I could remember how great I was.  Never again did I ever perform either drunk or stoned.  I never wanted to forget that I was good.  That may sound egotistical, but I know I was the best.  I still had a problem with alcohol for years later, but never on stage again.  That one was scary.
 I loved that play.  It is one of my personal favorites of all I have done over the years.  If you can find it, you may want to look into doing it in your church.  Just don't have anyone drink before you do it.

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