It's been at least twenty years ago when friends talked me into taking part in a community college production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. It's usually hard to find male actors in small towns, and while I think I was originally singled out to either be the cop or the milkman, by the time rehearsals started I had been bumped up the the infinitely more important Doctor Gibbs. And it was a family affair. My son Tim, then a fifth or sixth grader, played Wally Webb, Emily's little brother.
Tim and I talked about Our Town earlier this week, and he described that experience as "a lot of fun." That's the way I remember it, too, though I'm sure at the time, while working full-time as a middle school principal where the faculty was always bordering on being in full revolt, I probably didn't see it that way. But the play was a nice diversion and gave me some great memories of doing a special project with my youngest son.
Our star of that play, the narrator, (I won't mention his name out of privacy concerns) was a former school student of mine who had been painfully shy in a school setting - but he came alive on stage and owned it. The last time I saw him he was living-the-dream as a starving actor in New York City. I, on the other hand, had no problem speaking before a student assembly of five hundred, but put me on a stage in a dramatic production and I was stiff, wooden, and tongue-tied. My Doc Gibbs was awful, but the narrator thought I was funny and came up with a never-ending stream of ways to rush in and save me.
Tim, on the other hand, was more like the narrator - a natural on stage. He probably wouldn't want that known, but he is as comfortable speaking the dialogue as he is writing it - and every bit as authentic.