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January 13, 2006

Carole Peterson Wendt's Memories (Part 3)

About the time Bill and I were finishing our schooling at the University, Doctor Whiting was wooing Sir Tyrone Guthrie. Doc was determined that Sir Tyrone would establish a theater in Minneapolis. Doc was an inspired and determined man, as we all knew, and as Sir Tyrone was to find out.

If Bill were here, he would share his memories of our student days, too. He might talk about playing the lead in "Bodas de Sangre." That role was especially challenging -- he didn't speak Spanish. Fortunately, he had an ear for the accent and his sister, Ruth, who had taught Spanish in high school, helped him memorize his lines, and understand them.

I bet he'd write about the time I, his new girl friend, worked on one of his stage crews. All theater students had to put in time on a crew and I was assigned to Bill's. I forget the show but it being presented in the little theater downstairs at Scott Hall. We decided to pretend we were barely acquainted so as not to cause any talk among the other crew members. That worked fine until Bill discovered that in my fervor, I had screwed a flat to the floor. That, Bill explained gently in tones one might use to a small child, was not well done. The screw was meant to be attached to the flat, not to the flat AND the floor. The other crew members got a kick out of the exchange, as it was immediately clear we were more than mere acquaintances. I told him later he was lucky I hadn't had a hammer in my hand at the time.

We both remember what a strict disciplinarian Merle Loppnow was. He taught us by word and example that the theater was serious business. You did your job, on time, and you did it well. Curtains went up on time. If the show was to start at 7pm, by cracky, that curtain went up at 7pm or else. And, you showed
up on time for rehearsals and of course for performances. Those habits worked well for us no matter what careers we followed. Having said that, I have to say the first time Bill and I went to a Broadway show (West Side Story), we were amazed to discover that the curtain did not go up at 8pm sharp. It rose at
ten after eight. Big surprise. Bill found out when he was cast in Broadway and off Broadway shows that a strict discipline did apply. You showed up on time for everything .. and the curtain always went up on time: at ten after eight, sharp.


Posted by utheatre at January 13, 2006 1:29 PM | University Theatre Memories