I have been connected to the Guignol Theater and the University of Kentucky Theater Department since my junior year at Bryan Station High School.
My high school English teacher arranged for our class to have access to discounted tickets to UK’s production of Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT. Jill Geiger played a major role in that production. Jill went on to perform with and later own The Dorset Playhouse in Vermont. She was a successful person.
The day before we attended the show, my teacher gave us instructions on how we were to behave in “The Guignol”. The exclamation marks come from my remembrance of my teacher’s obvious reverence for this Temple of the Arts we were entering. How quaint.
I wore my clip-on tie (my fellow Guignolite and playwright/screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue – a successful person – was not to teach me to tie a proper knot for another five years), applauded at all the proper places, and was suitably impressed. So much so that I attended (on my own this time) UK’s next production in the Guignol of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s THE RIVALS. Bekki Jo Schneider (friend, mentor, and ex-sister-in-law) played a major role in that show. She became the owner/operator/director of Derby Dinner Playhouse in Southern Indiana. She was a successful person.
The next year, my senior year in high school, I attended DARK OF THE MOON in the Guignol and UNDER MILKWOOD in the Laboratory Theater which is now named the Briggs Theater (Wally Briggs spent his adult life teaching theatre to UK students. Yes, he was a successful person). DARK OF THE MOON featured Julieanne Pogue. Julieanne has gone on to a strong regional acting career, become an award-winning reader of books for the blind, and an uber-caring psychologist. Julianne is a successful person.
Both of these shows also featured a freshman in leading roles.
This explains why I attended UK to study theatre. Where else could I possibly want to go? UK offered an immediate opportunity to act…..in major productions…..in real costumes…..on beautiful and exciting sets…..in front of real audiences.
I remember these audiences as being drawn from ALL of Lexington. John Jacob Niles (another successful person) sat in the middle of the first row every opening night I can remember. Teachers from Lexington schools were there. Mary Agnes Barnes reviewed for Lexington Herald. John Alexander reviewed for the Lexington Leader. Betty Waren wrote a theater page for the Herald every Sunday. The Theater Department faculty was there…usually multiple nights. One memorable Sunday matinee was attended by Jose Ferrer (he was successful too).
I attended UK for two and half years, performed in seventeen shows, and became an adult; a thinking, listening, caring, listening, evaluating, listening, tax-paying, listening, voting, listening adult.
The arts do that for you. They make you whole. They make you reason. They make you listen.
Teach our children to add and subtract. Teach them to write a logical paragraph. Teach them to tell a whimsical story. Teach them their country’s history. Teach them the scientific method. Teach them to sing. For God’s sake, teach them civics so they know how their government works and are thus less vulnerable to the lies being shouted.
Make them whole. Make them successful.
Frankly, I feel safer around a good guy with a pun than a good guy with a gun.