Going through school, as many schools do, I recall certain pageants that were put on. They weren’t really plays so much, as some sort of event on stage. My first outing in costume was as a horse’s ass. I think that one was in the second grade, but the years are sort of blurred. Some might say I’m still a horse’s ass, but I think that has different meaning. Yep, I was paired with some guy who had a horse head and I followed him around the stage. It’s not easy being the horse’s ass. [And that may be why there was a sketch on a Benny Hill episode I always thought was hilarious when, during a play, the front half of the horse started cutting farts and the back end broke away and ran off] But, there is limited artistic fulfillment for even a second grader, in playing a horse’s ass.
Then, there was some Thanksgiving based holiday deal around third or fourth grade when I was a Pilgrim. There were three of us with wooden axes. We marched across the stage swinging our axes as if we were chopping down trees. That was it.
So, I don’t think the elementary teachers had much confidence in me as an actor with such challenging roles. Our family moved from Texas to California in fifth grade. I moved from bit parts to stage crew. I moved some of the scenery in the fifth grade butchering of A Christmas Carol, which was far more ambitious than the earlier crap. That was a real play.
Then, in the sixth grade, I got to run the lights. That was way cool. The play, a bizarre one about some toyland, was incomprehensible, but the lights were great. We had pink ones and blue ones and a big huge bright one from the back of the room. And I didn’t screw it up or anything.
Then, in junior high, I didn’t do any plays or such. Don’t remember why. In high school I didn’t either, but mostly because they kept having the most bizarre plays that did not in any way seem fun–like one on the Scopes Monkey Trial and another based on the Orwell novel 1984. They were awful and I steered clear of them.