Friday, June 15, 2012

me kissing Nicci

This is the last of the SWTSU theater kisses. I'm so very delighted to have this one.

So the organizers of the reunion are on the stage at Cheatham Street Warehouse, making announcements and one of them said, "And over here we are excited to have with us Nicci Harrison." This made me sit up and take notice. Nicci Harrison is here? Squee!

Nicci was the department secretary my freshman year at SWTSU. That doesn't even begin to tell you who she was. Telling you that we all referred to her as "Mama Nicci" maybe tells you more. She took care of us. She nurtured us. She loved us. I don't think I can stress that enough. Goodness, to be den mother to a bunch of theater majors . . . well, just think about that a moment.

What's more, I got to know her my senior year of high school. When I arranged a visit to the SWTSU campus my senior year, to see a show in the theater and generally hang out in that round, moat-encircled building for a day, Nicci hosted not only me, but another prospective student in her home. I can't imagine anyone doing that nowadays, and really, I'm not sure many people would have done it in 1982. Nicci did. She welcomed two high school boys into her home, gave us a place to lay our head at night, gave us breakfast in the morning. That was our Mama Nicci.

At the end of my freshman year, the department chair changed and Nicci felt that was a good time for her to make a change, too. She left the department but never our hearts. 

So now I have to tell you the mortifying part of my evening in San Marcos. When I went over to say hi and tell her who I was how I remembered her housing me for a night . . . I knocked over a glass of tea on her table. She had two binders full of what I gather were memorabilia from her years as our Mama Nicci and I spilled tea. Luckily, it wasn't a full glass and I think only the edges of some pages got wet, but wow. Do I know how to re-enter someone's life? I put my hand over my name tag and said, "Well, now I don't want to tell you my name." And as I'm helping wipe up tea and apologizing and basically feeling about 3 inches tall, she's saying, "oh, that's all right, don't worry about it." Because that's what Nicci would say.

And after all that? She still let me give her a kiss. Because, you know, she's Mama Nicci.

me kissing Sheila

Still at the SWTSU Theater Department reunion . . .

This is Sheila Hargett. She was my teacher for costume design and make-up classes. I still have the make-up text book that has photos of her modeling a make-up procedure. We all thought that was cool and fun to have a text book with our teacher's picture in it.

I had only those two classes with Sheila, and I wasn't a costume major, so our interactions were relatively limited. I recall she had some amount of patience with people who had never sewn before (I had some experience---Mama taught me some things on the farm). I also remember the costume majors worshiping at her altar. She was much beloved by the students with whom she worked closest.

Probably "is." "Is much beloved," as she continues teaching at the renamed Texas State University. Even as an acting major, I remembered her fondly enough to kiss her.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

me kissing Melanie

So Mary Margaret wasn't the only one to break my peck on the cheek rule. Meet Melanie Pleasure. I said it's just a sweet little peck on the cheek. She said, "You see these lips? They were made for kissing."

Theater people. Rule breakers. And kissers.

I definitely remember Melanie from college days. She always had a high energy and irrepressible joie de vivre. It surprised me not at all to hear that she's now a fitness instructor, specializing in hula hoop fitness.

It's a little hard to tell from this picture, but Melanie had some sort of sparkly rhinestone-ish decorations adhered to her face and back. This is apt. Melanie is nothing if not sparkly.

me kissing Cheryl

Ugh. I don't know what happened here. Didn't have the flash set on my camera? So this is darker than your average kiss.

But this is Cheryl Brown. We also worked together off campus at the Bastrop Opera House (like Mary Margaret). Again with memory lapses. but I believe sh did costumes. Maybe? Gah. I need to undergo memory regenerative hypnosis. If that exists. Something.

Anyway, she now lives "across the pond" and has a fiance who is quick with a camera and talks with an accent (although perhaps he thinks I'm the one with an accent). Cheryl obviously remembered many more people---and was remembered by many more people---than I. I saw her running from group to group, giving many hugs. It was in those moments I had the clearest flashes of memory. Her energy has not diminished.

Sorry for the dark kiss, Cheryl. Glad you made it back to the States for the reunion.

me kissing Paula

You know, time is a funny thing. You spend years in college and you think it's all an indelible mark on your heart mind and soul.

And then you grow old. You make a couple or three moves. You accumulate more and more circles of friends and acquaintances. Suddenly you're at a school reunion and trying to piece together history that you once thought was carved in granite.

I remember Paula Rodriguez, but some details are blurry. I know we didn't do any shows together. I'm pretty sure she did one or two of the children's shows. Backyard Story maybe?

Well, the feelings I get from remembering her name are positive, so that's something, right? That makes me slightly less of a forgetful old man, yes?

At any rate, here she is at the SWTSU Theater Department reunion. And she let me kiss her.

Monday, June 11, 2012

me kissing Mary Margaret and Bennie

Ah, college reunions. All about breaking rules.

Yeah, so I went to a reunion of the theater department of Southwest Texas State University (from way back when that's what it was called). I went specifically because Mary Margaret McNorton (which was not the last name I knew 25 years ago) said she was going. I don't know if I've seen her since we graduated. We did an awful lot of theater together, mostly off campus at The Bastrop Opera House. And she didn't want a kiss on the cheek. Mary Margaret is hard to refuse, and really, we have too much history to fight. So much for my rule about pecks on the cheek.

Don't worry, men, we were theater majors. We're only acting.

 This was the first time I'd met her husband, Bennie, although we'd already become Facebook friends. Mary Margaret found herself a keeper here, I think. We shared a disdain for the noise level in Cheatham Street Warehouse. We spent a lot of our conversation saying, "What?" He was also more willing to abide by my rule about pecks on the cheek.

Here's a photo of us from the summer of 1985. It's a scan of a Bastrop Opera House brochure and so it's crooked--the stage wasn't really slanted--but it's still a great (melo)dramatic moment in theater history, I think you'll agree.

I was glad to see other people at the reunion, but Mary Margaret got me there. We laughed, we reminisced, we kissed. Good times.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

me kissing Corian and Alex

I've seldom posted two pictures in one blog post, and I hesitate to do it now, but somehow, after what I saw last night, this seemed appropriate.

Let's back up a second. Corian Ellisor and Alex Albarca are native Houstonians (well, Corian is from Humble, but that's sort of way north Houston), graduates of the University of Houston, and I'd seen them dance before they both moved to Atlanta. And, as they showed last night, they are best friends.

I heard them interviewed for their Big Range appearance on The Front Row and it was clear that they thoroughly enjoy each other. The interview was so much fun that I would have come to Program B of The Big Range even if I didn't already know several of my favorite dancers were appearing. The banter between them comes so naturally, so quick . . . well, as they say in the description of the dance, "Be(a)stie is what happens when two people share a brain and decide to make a dance."

Be(a)stie is such a good title for a piece about best friends, the "sharing the brain" and also the strains of that relationship. Make no mistake, this is a very funny piece. I've seldom laughed so much during a dance show. At the same time, they don't pull back from some tender things. I'm going to be talking about this for a while.

And you know what? If you're a presenter, you need to think about bringing this show to your venue. It's about an hour long, so it could stand alone, has some media needs (a hysterical video projection at the end), and no regrets for having them in your space. Go listen to the interview linked above and multiply that fun by at least 3. Thank me later.

This show needs to go on the road.

me kissing Ondine

So, yes, more dancers. I was at the Big Range Dance Dance Festival,  program B, last night. Here we go.

This is Ondine Geary. She's a Memphis dancer in Houston for the festival. She presented two pieces in the festival, revealing a sinewy movement style, a sense of humor, and the willingness to go to some heartbreaking places. And if that weren't enough, one of the dances used Dionne Warwick's version of "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." Yeah, she pushed all the right buttons with me.

If you're reading this the day I'm posting it, there's one more show of Program B tonight. Go. It's a long evening of awesome dance. Show Ondine some Houston hospitality.