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I was in jail in Memphis. Wasn’t I?

September 12, 2015
Dan Struckman, September, 197.

Dan Struckman, September, 1997.

September 11, 2015

Just got home from our show’s opening. Yeah, there were some forgotten lines, but we still got them in, sometimes not in the order that they were written by the playwright, whose name is Tom Jones (not the singer). I feel good about the show, although I wish it clipped along at a slightly faster pace. I feel sorry for the people in the audience who have to sit on the relatively crappy seats for two hours. We could probably cut 10 minutes if we just moved it along. Maybe not.
Gerry Roe is a fantastic director. When he started in theater in the 50s the actors wore grease paint. I wish you could get to know him. He is short, bald, sort of chubby, and brilliant. He is so smart he is scary. You never know what he is going to say, but it is always right on target. Sometimes you think, oh, that old guy? Then he tells you what you’ve been thinking! Or what you should have been thinking.
The first time that happened was during my audition. He had me read part of the script. I told Gerry that I wouldn’t talk like “El Gallo” in a million years!
I was thinking of my first real love affair, back in 1968. I was thinking of how we had been smoking weed in Missoula and walking along the Clark Fork River in the summer. Gerry picked up on that immediately! He told me what was in my mind! He told me that if he could pick up where he left off with his first wife, he would do so in a blink of an eye. He seemed to understand me to an extreme degree. I was totally blown away.
Since then, Gerry and I have had a chance to talk about our childhoods, and our influences from the television programs of the 1950s, especially the situation comedies, like “The Life of Riley,” starring William Bendix. Also, comedians like Lily Tomlin and Art Carney and, of course, Jackie Gleason.
Gerry freely shared with me about his early life. He was raised by an abusive step-father. Had to be painful. Perhaps great art springs from such pain. I can’t pretend to have had such trauma.
In our show, I like our piano player-in-chief, a woman who hails from Louisiana named Brenda. She talks like she moved to Montana yesterday, with a real southern drawl. I teased her about her drawl. Then I told her I was once in jail in Memphis. Also I told her why I had been in jail. Also what I did to get there. Then, I told Brenda how I got to California and how I got married afterward.
Then I told how the soldier from my late uncle’s company said I “should have been shot” when I told him what I had done to get put in jail in Memphis.
Then, as I was waiting in the wings for the show’s overture, I told Brenda that I had made the whole thing up. I don’t think she believed any of it.

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