What’s Going On
In the 2022 Toastmasters International Speech and Table Topics Contest Vicky Lyle and Ankita Roy, both members of Innsbrook Toastmasters Club, advanced from the District 66 Area 26 to Division B this last weekend. Hooray!
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. “– Maya Angelou
How Can We Better Serve You?
We’ve been publishing this newsletter for several years. It is essentially a digital magazine. Every now and then we’ll run an ad like the one below promoting Tess Scott’s book, Listen, Sister!
I was talking to a friend, Heather Brekelmans, the other day lamenting our inability to think of products, services, or events to bring to our readers’ attention. She suggested we ask you what products, services, or events might interest you besides the stories, quotes, and storyteller profiles we currently include in the newsletter. We’d appreciate it if you’d give us some feedback. Books, workshops, travel; whatever opportunities you’d like us to search out and promote.
Open Kimono – Should you choose to click on a link and purchase we’ll be making a commission off the subsequent sales.
We look forward to your input.
Pam was a dismal failure at ashtray making in first grade pottery class. To further shame her family, she was a charter member of the turtle reading group and unable to successfully solve for x in seventh grade. If SOL tests were given back when she was in school, she’d have been SOL.
In a bizarre turn of events for a dyslexic kid who hated school, Pam went to college and stayed there for thirty years. They never asked her if she had learning differences; she never revealed that information. (They can’t take a degree back, can they?)
Focusing on the natural gifts of students and helping them realize their dreams, Pam started a successful educational consulting firm in 2010. When she is not busy helping students succeed, she entertains audiences with tales of the education dark side.
She can be reached at 757-903-6511 or [email protected]
Check out her story, Queen of the Second Row.
Auditioning for How to Succeed…
By the summer of 1974 I had been making my living as an actor for a little over a year. I’d entered and left an Actors Equity union apprenticeship program in Manassas, VA and flown to West Palm Beach, FL to stage manage and act in a production of Guys & Dolls directed by Joe Davis.
Joe had cast me in my first two professional shows when I was 15 and 20. I thought I had secured a gig with another theater in Palm Beach and had flown back to Richmond expecting to return only to receive notice that theater’s opening was being postponed. I also learned that the theater had been working for had folded and apparently I was the only member of the cast who had collected their pay. Everyone else’s paychecks had bounced. I had cashed mine at a small bodega before I flew home.
Shortly after returning home I was recruited to help open another theater and was cast in their second show, The Girl in the Freudian Slip. I started working construction again and was cast in their fourth show, Neil Simon’s The Star Spangled Girl.
It was late August and my parents were vacationing at Virginia Beach. Momma called me to say she’d seen an audition announcement for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I had seen the show in NY a few years before when Joe Davis had directed it at the Equity Library Theatre. The audition was scheduled for the following Monday. My play was running Wednesdays through Saturdays and I decided to drive down to Norfolk and audition.
At that time I drove a 1967 Plymouth Fury III that I had bought for $600 from a little old lady who didn’t drive anymore. It was a big car, wide enough to stretch my 6’1.5” frame out in the back seat with a trunk larger than some of my actor friend’s NYC apartments.
I worked on a jobsite from 7:30 that Monday until 4:30. Rushed home, showered, changed and took off for Norfolk. Half way between Bottoms Bridge and Williamsburg on an isolated stretch of I-64E the car broke down. This was long before cell phones, so I thought I was out of luck, but eternal optimist that I am I stuck out my thumb and the first tractor trailer that came along stopped and gave me a lift. When I told him where I was going and he said he was going right by there.
Ten minutes before the auditions were scheduled to begin he let me off at the corner and I walked in the door drawing a significant amount of attention. Partly, because I was wearing navy slacks, a red gingham check button-down-collar shirt, and an off-white silk sports coat. But probably because no one knew me. Who was this stranger?
I signed in, let them know I was there to audition for J. Pierpont Finch, the lead, and took a seat waiting my turn. As I sat there I checked out my competition. I love the music from the show and I was enjoying listening to the auditions. Some people brought their own sheet music, but most were auditioning with songs from the show, as I intended to.
When it came my time, I told the pianist I would sing Brotherhood of Man, the shows big finale number. I got up on stage and began to sing. I immediately began to wonder if I wanted to work at this theater. The pianist was struggling. She hadn’t seemed to have had problems with other auditioners’ material, but she was butchering my number.
At this time in my career I’d never had any professional training beyond the six weeks I’d spent in the apprenticeship program. All my training had come from my high school drama director, Betty Griggs, and my high school music teacher, Betty Davis. Mrs. Griggs had taught me how to command attention on stage and Miss Davis has taught me that the accompanist followed me, so I just committed to the song and prayed the poor piano player could keep up. Within moments she found her stride and I was very happy with my audition.
As was the director’ as I was offered the lead. I explained I was doing a show up in Richmond and wouldn’t be able to attend rehearsals for another three weeks. We worked out that I would drive down and rehearse Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays until my show closed and then I’d move down to Norfolk. The producer offered to put me up at her house until the show opened and I could find a place of my own.
I then explained how my car had broken down and somebody gave a lift to the Trailways station and I took the overnight bus back to Richmond. My parents had returned home and Daddy drove me down and we arranged a tow truck to bring the car home.
Everything went smoothly after that. I finished the run of The Star Spangled Girl. I drove down on my off days, rehearsed, and moved down finishing rehearsals. The show opened to glowing reviews. I wound up renting a room from the pianist. One thing led to another and the pianist and I became intimate friends.
This woman was one of the most accomplished musicians I had or for that mater have ever met. One night she confessed that the community of actors who worked at that theater were a very close-knit community and that prior to my showing up everyone had thought that the guy who ended up playing Bud Frump, the comic foil, was going to be cast as the lead. So, when I, a ringer from out of town, showed up, she decided to sabotage my audition. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way she anticipated. In fact she said, within moments the only person who was looking bad was her and she decided to straighten up and fly right.
It never crossed my mind that anyone would have tried to trip me up like that. But it didn’t matter. Mrs. Griggs and Miss Davis had taught me well. Eventually, I received a BFA in Theatre from VCU. I went on to study with some respected acting teachers and extremely accomplished musical directors. But the training I got in high school laid the foundation for my career in the theater and as a public speaker, and now as a storyteller.
Both Bettys are singing with celestial choirs these days. They may be gone, but they will never be forgotten. Not as long as I live.
The pandemic postponed my high school’s fiftieth reunion. On April 29th, Thomas Jefferson High School’s Class of 1970 will turn 70 and we’re gathering 52 years after we graduated. I intend sharing this story and singing both Betty’s glory.
Listen, Sister! Finding Hope in the Freakshow of Life is a hilarious collection of short personal stories that turn awkward memories into much needed encouragement. Each tale of real-life shenanigans points out glimpses of God in the everyday and directs women to the source of true joy in their stress-filled lives.
Listen, Sister! Finding Hope in the Freakshow of Life is launching June 14, 2022.
You can pre-order it here: Listen, Sister!: Finding Hope in the Freakshow of Life by Tess Scott, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)
I Want to Hear from You
Please send us your feedback about the kinds of products, services or events you’d like us to promote at [email protected]
Til next time,