Odds & Ends
PAUL HOUGH, who has now directed three plays for E.A.T., started his professional relationship with Paul Stephen Lim back in 1975, when he was the lead in Lim’s play “Conpersonas.” The opening scene had him appearing on stage wearing only a pair of purple bikini briefs. At one performance, moments before the play began, Paul had to use the facilities and, much to everyone’s amusement, the wardrobe mistress (now the respectable wife of a University president) had to take care of the accident by getting on her knees and very carefully using a blow-dryer. The show went on, and there wasn’t a dry eye backstage.
During rehearsals for Velina Hasu Houston’s “Tea,” a play about Japanese war brides in Junction City, director ANDREW TSUBAKI insisted that the rehearsal space was “sacred,” so the entire cast had to clean and sweep and wash the floor each night as an acting exercise prior to the evening’s rehearsal.
JEREMY AUMAN, who appeared in "April in Akron," and who has directed more plays for E.A.T. and taken more productions to various regional festivals of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival than anyone else alive, decided one night to rehearse “Fatherland” by ADAM MERKER in a park in Lawrence. The play is about three very violent American soldiers who torture and humiliate a young German prisoner during WWII. They were so convincing that the neighbors called the police, who promptly arrived to investigate “the scene of the crime.” Luckily, the actors were not rehearsing with their guns and rifles that night.
BUD HIRSCH (1944-2006) was fond of telling people that his participation in the staged reading of “Art” was near and dear to his heart because, for the first time in his life, he actually had permission to publicly tell someone to “FUCK OFF!” This he had to say to his big buddies in the department, JIM HARTMAN and JIM CAROTHERS, who also loved being in the play with Bud. Our dear friend Bud passed away on Sept. 3, 2006 four months after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Many local businesses refused to put up posters for the E.A.T. production of “Bent,” a play about the Nazi extermination of homosexuals during WWII. The graphic for the poster was provided by GRANT GOODMAN from his own personal collection. It shows the figure of a naked man lying inertly on a gigantic swastika, in what appears to be a different sort of crucifixion. (The poster can be seen elsewhere on this website.)
At one of the performances of "The Holocaust Kid" by TIM MACY, two young women rushed out of the theater about half an hour into the show. Moments later, three other people seating in roughly the same area also stood up and left. Since the subject matter of the play was controversial, the staff assumed that the people who had left had been offended by the material. It was not until the intermission that the staff learned that one of the young women who had rushed out had in fact been drunk, and that she had thrown up not just on herself, but also on the people around her and in front of her. The staff later reported that the young woman had been drinking red wine. (As soon as we find out who she is, and what kind of red wine she had been drinking, we will post the information here.)
The staged reading of “Some Americans Abroad” called for JIM CAROTHERS to flirt with, and to fondle, the posterior of CAROLYN DOTY. According to Carolyn, who told this story a lot at many of her parties, Jim apologized profusely to her each night after rehearsals
After the two performances of “Report to the River” at the regional festival of KCACTF in Overland Park, PHILLIP SCHROEDER and MICHAEL SENFTEN were hanging out at the bar of the hotel, hoping to get lucky for the night. Because the two actors were so convincing in the parts they played in the show, all the girls avoided Phill, who portrayed the convicted murderer. Mike, on the other hand, got several notes with hotel room numbers on them. One of the notes said, “You are so cute, I’d like to spank you.”
“Bereft” by NICK WOODS is set in a seedy prison cell. The open toilet that ED WHITE distressed and provided for the set was so gross the three actors (RYAN LARKIN, AVI SEAVER and TONY HARRIS) refused to go anywhere near it in the course of the play.
The actress who played the matriarch in “A Raisin in the Sun” was in the habit of leaving bits and pieces of her costume at home.Prior to one performance, PAUL STEPHEN LIM had to run to the nearest 7-11 store to buy the woman a pair of pantyhose. When Lim submitted the receipt to the KU Endowment Association along with his other expenditures for the production, the KUEA questioned the authenticity of the receipt and wanted to know “who benefitted from the purchase of the pantyhose.”
During this same production of “A Raisin in the Sun,” one of the minor actors, a fraternity boy, simply did not show up for a performance because he decided to take his date to a dance in Kansas City. ALAN NEWTON, the stage manager, frantically patched the scenes together, trying to make sure the storyline was clear even without the two scenes that the character was in. The errant but unapologetic actor was around for another couple of years, but he never got cast in any other plays at KU.
“Mourning Glorie” by KIRBY FIELDS was another production where an actor simply disappeared prior to the show going to the KCACTF regional festival in Lincoln, NE. Thankfully, JERRY MITCHELL was able to step into the part with just a couple of rehearsals, and his performance was praised by the respondents at the festival. The one who disappeared has never been seen or heard from again.
“April in Akron,” a play which shows young men being at their misogynistic worst, was written by DAN KULMALA, one of the sweetest people on God’s earth. After the E.A.T. production of the play, Dan claims that his women colleagues in the English Department looked at him strangely and avoided him in the corridors of Wescoe Hall.
In the old days, the English Department used to circulate a list of its faculty members, complete with the names of spouses. Feeling left out for being single, PAUL STEPHEN LIM, who is originally from the Philippines, decided to list his dog, whom he had named after IMELDA (MARCOS). Chancellor ROBERT HEMENWAY, who was new to KU at the time, decided to throw a party at his house for the English Department. When the invitation came for “Paul and Imelda,” a member of the department said to Hemenway, “But, Chancellor, she’s a dog!” To which the Chancellor replied, “That’s not a nice thing to say about anyone.”
The director of “Graf Spee” by KEN WILLARD was much enamored with “magic realism.” The play is about “the disappeared” in Argentina and, at one point, the bones of a victim are taken out of a coffin. Ken was horrified when the skeletal remains which were constructed under the director’s supervision turned out to be over nine feet long. The producer had to step in and replace the monstrosity with something less magical
Not so with “The Sea” by WILL AVERILL, which actually calls for a grotesque nine-foot tall female puppet (constructed by KAYE MILLER) which torments and forces two innocent teenagers to have sex with each other. When KU Chancellor ROBERT HEMENWAY gave another party at his residence and again invited members of the English Department to come with their spouses, PAUL STEPHEN LIM decided to show up with the puppet. The Chancellor greeted her cordially outside the house, because she was much too gigantic to go through the front door.
And here's another TALL STORY. IRIS SMITH FISCHER, who directed the EAT staged reading of Shaw's "Don Juan In Hell" in 100 Smith Hall, recalls that two of her actors were unevenly matched vertically. Luckily, the performance space had built-in step units, thus allowing the more diminutive JANET SHARISTANIAN to rise to the occasion by always standing two steps above the towering FRANK DODEN in all their scenes together.
As the drunken Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” the versatile JAN CHAPMAN decided she wanted to sit on the back of a couch at one point, and then fall off behind the couch with a big thump, which always worried the director, but Jan reassured him that it was all just “acting.”
Years later, the same director witnessed the equally versatile JOHN YOUNGER trip and fall and bounce back without missing a beat, during an unforgettable performance of “The Glass Menagerie” which also featured AMY DEVITT as Amanda, ARON CARLSON as Tom, JACQUELINE GRUNAU as Laura, and JEREMY AUMAN as The Gentleman Caller. KARL RAMBERG provided live music for the production, and he too did not miss a beat when John “tripped the light fantastic.”
The first scenic designer for E.A.T. was JIM ERDAHL a friend of KAYE MILLER (1943-2007) who had followed her to Lawrence when she decided to do an M.A. in Children's Theatre from the KU Theatre Department. Jim designed the distinctive E.A.T. logo. When Jim died of AIDS in 1992, Kaye took over as scenic desginer for E.A.T. and had help from wonderful people like KENTARO FUKADA. In Jim's memory, E.A.T. donated all proceeds from the production of “Two From the Hurt: Susan Sontag’s ‘The Way We Live Now’ and Terrence McNally’s ‘Andre’s Mother,’” and also the staged reading of “The Normal Heart” by Larry Kramer, to the Douglas County AIDS Project. Our dear friend Kaye passed away on May 1, 2007, ten years after she survived her first bout with a brain tumor.
And FINALLY.....Who was the playwright who was so nervous and unhappy about anyone tampering with her text, that she ended up vomiting after every rehearsal?.....Which director was accused of “inappropriate touching” by an actor who was not familiar with physical warm-up exercises as prescribed by the Great Grotowski?..... Who is the actress who makes life hell for costume designers because she is severely allergic to clothing made with any kind of synthetic fibers?..... Who is the Preacher from Topeka who has never picketed any show by E.A.T., not even when he was invited to attend the production of “The Camp Follower” by SCOTT PINKSTON, which features among its characters a Preacher who pickets against homosexuals because he is suffering from a bad case of hemorrhoids?..... “And the rest,” as SHAKESPEARE puts it, “is silence.”