Forty-five years ago this week, this long-haired skinny kid from Perrysburg, Ohio, landed at the University of Miami and walked into the Ring Theatre determined to become an Actor. He was sure he would be the next star of stage and screen and people would be lining up around the block to watch him perform everything from Shakespeare to Neil Simon. So he signed up for acting classes with the legendary Buckets Lowery, took dramatic lit from Dr. Delmar Solem and Dr. Charles Philhour, directing from Dr. Hank Diers, costuming from Dr. Roberta Baker, and learned all about scenery design, stagecraft, and history from the original Great One — and the last man standing — the Old Professor. He met his fellow classmates who were also setting out on this great adventure who became more than just classmates; they became lifelong friends. For three incredible years he was in shows (usually small parts whose first name was “The”) or back stage running the shows, or building sets, and afterwards hanging out for many a night in student housing as a charter member of the MNT Society.
No, he didn’t become a great actor because when he wasn’t on stage or in class or building scenery (and becoming a skilled carpenter), he was writing plays or stories … and it didn’t help that he had a face for radio. But if it wasn’t for the foundation of his friends, mentors, teachers, and partners that he built at the Ring, he wouldn’t have had the skills or courage to go on for a masters and doctorate in playwriting, which he’s still to this day trying to master.
So today, this not-so-long-haired, not-so-skinny guy who started classes at the Ring on his 19th birthday looks back from the verge of his 64th and says a humble and grateful thank you for these forty-five years of friendship. I couldn’t have done it without you. And maybe I’ll put you in one of my plays. Maybe you already are.