Category "Faculty Memories"
May 3, 2006
Hello from Dwight Larsen
I'm probably one of the most insignificant but most blessed people to come out of the U of M theatre program.I got my MFA degree in 1972 and have been constantly working in my field. To date, 20 years at the Guthrie Theater and the next 12 years at the Childrens Theatre in Mpls have made my career. I was told by others once that Dr.Josal once said he was sorry he had never been able to place me in an academic situation. Thank you , Sir. Because I never wanted that . The professional theatre has been my life and rightly so. My career has suited me well. And I also give great credit to Wendell and Jean for my original formation. I am who I am from what I learned from you.
Category "Faculty Memories"
November 7, 2005
It seems like yesterday or the mind is the second thing to go!!!
The 75th Anniversary Season or our diamond celebration is a time for me to reflect on three decades of wonderful students. I was here for the 50th and still see in my faded memory Bob Moulton leading us in happy birthday from the landing of the grand staircase. He established Scholarship 50 that has grown through the generosity of so many and now supports theatre and dance students annually. It was an occasion and now that I have 25 years of time and perhaps experience (still dumber than a stump)--the event means that much more to me.
As I go through the history of the department that is posted on this website, my life flashes before my eyes and the memory of some of the antics that various students have pulled during the Rarig years just makes me smile. I will never forget the "Lowering the Dome Party" thrown by my staff two weeks after the official celebration of the inflation of the Metrodome--it was a downtown event. It seems an early snowstorm overloaded the fabric roof tearing a sizeable hole while the press gave us a live, blow-by-blow description of the deflating of the dome. The next day on my way to the shop for top of the hour, I passed all of the caution and warning signs that a "lowering of the dome party" was taking place. Well, of course when I went in the shop the staff had draped plastic from all of the sprinkler pipes, loaded the plastic with snow, had buckets collecting the water as they threw snow balls at each other--they did have on safety helmets. Not the glorious celebration of two weeks previous but certainly a fitting conclusion for the first inflation/deflation of the dome.
I also remember those wonderful times on Saturday mornings (we don't do that any more) with donuts and cranky crew kids--I still remember the student that called in and could not come to work because his parakeet died--a mantra that still lives. On a Saturday before Easter, Scott Letendresse dressed up as an Easter bunny and greeted the stunned students as they entered. He wouldn't let them have a donut until they found a dyed Easter egg that he had hidden in the shop. Or the time that Janet Ryger was crossing the bridge during "Safe Sex" week and after repeated passes, she had pockets full of condums. She then inflated as many as she could and filled my locker. Of course, the best part was the staff waiting until I came in for work, opened my locker, and then to see my reaction as the "balloons" bounced across the floor.
I have celebrated three decades of birthdays with students and one of the main reasons that I go to USITT every year is to reconnect, laugh, and to pinch myself as a reminder of the wonderful and caring students that have graced my path. To be able to share so much of this with my valued colleague Jean Montgomery (afterall, we were hired at the same time and were told that they took Doc's salary on his retirement and split it between us--we also knew there must have been a lot of money left over) has made the memories that much richer. Come back and see us. April 29th and 30th needs to be on your calendar--you are missed and it will be great to venture down memory lane together. Best to all of you, 'See' Lance Brockman
I would be remiss to not mention the celebration that centered on the Minnesota Centennial Showboat. After all I thought I was hired to open 4 new theatre and get us moved into Rarig; however, my attraction has and probably always will be with the "old tug" as Gino has called it forever. Paul Sannerud and fellow students once did a skit where they rolled out a mannequin dressed in my work clothes and supplied with many painting accoutrements including the snit helmet. They all sang a song that ended each verse with "and don't forget the showboat"--my mantra about mid-March as everyone anticipated spring and the end of another season.
The showboat was a celebration and set-up days were the best. Hot dogs and potato chips just made it that much more special as we opened the old tug and started hanging scenery and lights. I remember once we were down rigging some piece of theatrical marvel and a spring storm blew up the river valley. I was on a ladder and the boat began to sway back and forth with Jean ordering me to come down before I fell or the ladder toppled over--of course that just prompted me to climb that much higher.
When that old tug burned, it was one of my darkest days. My thoughts were about everyones' effort to raise the money against all odds and how we seemed so close to being able to hear those old familiar lyrics..."Here Comes the Showboat!" once more. Fortunately, a hero did finally emerge and the new boat is spiffy, although, it lacks the ambience of incredibly tight quarters and the smells of old scene paint and fish that made the old tug such a unique experience.
It was so remarkable when we had our first set-up on the new boat with invited alumni and the new cast. Mike and Ann Charlotte Harvey coupled with Vern Sutton made it a sure-fire hit and yes, after hot dogs and potato chips, the new cast came down the aisles singing "Here Comes the Showboat" in front of the new drop curtain. It is truly a remarkable memory and Bob Moulton and Frank Whiting were certainly smiling. So, come back and join us on the New Centennial Showboat on April 29th. See Lance Brockman (and Jean Montgomery too)!
Category "Faculty Memories"
September 7, 2005
Memories from Barbara Reid
Remember the old Rarig with those beat up multi-colored vinyl cubes? They really made the pit a pit! And the matching red, yellow and blue block lettering outside the theaters? One o’clock classes in the blue arena – so soothing you had to fight to keep people from napping after lunch. I never knew Scott Hall, so took Rarig for granted. We always used the fact that we had four great spaces as recruiting information for prospective students. They were and are impressive. In spring it always felt so good to get classes out of the greyness of the building and outdoors whenever we could. Remember Bob Moulton’s May Days? Faculty offices across the street in Middlebrook – those 5th floor spaces now occupied by faculty and T.A.s were off limits for the department for a long time. Gino has done her best to protect our Rarig, with her annual “care and feeding” speech, and her countless e-mails if we got too careless. Lance warmed the building up a lot when he started hanging banners to give a new sense of liveliness to the space, put down carpet, and took away the vinyl sleeping pods. Ah, Rarig, forever ugly, forever imposing, much grey concrete, much life inside that concrete, many memories.
— Barbara Reid