It was ten years ago this week that I made my debut as a playwright. My first full length play, BARN OF THOUGHT, opened June 27, 1996 at the Catonsville Community College Barn Theatre produced by the Down South Independent Theatre Company. The show's main character Ed (played by me) was a twenty-something aged guy goofing off at junior college and hanging out with his friends at his favorite bar. Ed starts to reevaluate his life after he learns that his best friend is getting married and that "grown-up" changes are happening all around him. The show was based on a bi-weekly column that I wrote for the school newspaper, and many of the topics and jokes from the column found their way into the play.
The entire first act of the play takes place at Senior Pete's, Ed's favorite neighborhood watering hole. In addition to Ed we meet Cliff (Greg Aldape) a crazy mailman that hangs out at the bar all day; Sherry (Terri McHargue) the owner of Pete's; Jennifer (Amy Belschner) a slutty girl that frequents the bar; and Ernie (Keith Mack) another of the bar's regulars. We also meet Jeff Goldblum (Brendan Hines) one of Ed's best friends and we meet Scott Young (Nicholas Gough) an old friend of Ed's who announces he's getting married. See....his last name is Young and the show is all about getting older...Isn't that clever!???
The first act also has a dream sequence where the "dating scene" at the bar is imagined as a war movie. Later in act one, we meet Scott's fiance' Cindy (Corinne Chellis) and her friend Kelly (Diana Corley). Ed has a hard time dealing with the fact that his friend his exact same age is getting ready to settle down and raise a family. At the time I wrote the show, I really did have a good friend that was getting married, but the show is only loosely based on those events.
Act Two finds Ed, Scott and Jeff zipping through all sorts of pre-wedding preparations like renting a tux and the bachelor party. Ed also finds romance with a young girl by the name of Samantha Godwin (Heather Beck) who happens to be a little younger than Ed would like. On a date, Ed and Samantha meet Blane (Donald Canneti) a very enthusiastic (and gay) waiter who also pops up later at Scott's bachelor party. The guys also meet Clarence the Angel (Brian Kaiser) who shows them what girls talk about when guys aren't around.
Two zany characters also in the show are Don the Comic Guy and Gordon the Tux Guy both played by Kevin McCrum. The scene with Don the Comic Guy also involved my character and Jeff played by Brendan Hines. Kevin, Brendan and I were all very good friends at the time and it was very hard to get though that scene every night with a straight face. All three off us enjoy the occasional ad-lib and inside joke, and it all made for a very different scene each night.
The show ends shortly after the wedding of Scott and Cindy. Every character in the show gets a nice little happy ending of their own! There was even an original song written and performed by Terri McHargue at the wedding reception.
The whole production would not have been what it was without our fearless director Aaron M. Polun. Aaron took my idea of putting on a little show in the old theatre on campus and turned it into a big production that we were all VERY proud off...and still are to this day! Aaron had been involved with some other theatre companies in the area, and had even worked on a couple of shows in New York City prior to working on BARN OF THOUGHT. He had really nice programs (with advertising) printed up for us, he brought in people to be our crew, and he pulled together everything that we needed so that the rest of us could concentrate on being funny!
Also...this trip down memory lane would not be complete without mentioning the enormous talents of Jennifer Lyn Wadford. Jen served as Costumer and Props Coordinator on BARN. She custom made me two really cool shirts for the show. One had citrus fruits all over it, the other was sky blue with kites and hot air balloons. They were supposed to be tacky, and they were awesome! Jen went on to become stage manager for Down South's three other productions, none of which would have been possible without her!
BARN OF THOUGHT ran for two weeks and was a big success. Audiences enjoyed the humor and laid back style of the show. We received a good "word of mouth" as each performance was better attended than the last. The entire production was completely financed and created by my friends and I! All the box office receipts were blown on pizza and beer each night so I couldn't tell you how much we made, but we weren't in it for the money. We all worked together, had insane amounts of fun, and loads of good times.
NOTE: All names mentioned here are as billed at the time of production.