Once I had a garden. It was back in 1970. I had just moved to Vermont and thought I wanted a close relationship with the soil. My pride and joy were the tomato plants I started from seed indoors in late March. I nursed them tenderly. They went into the ground in late May and I was dreaming of pasta sauce like my grandmother made by August sometime.
Things went well until the 14th of June. My wife and I were coming home from a party that night. On the car radio, we heard of the possibility of a frost. We got home; we were tired; we went straight to bed. Then my wife remembered about the frost. She said, “You’d better go out and cover the tomato plants”. I said, “I think you should do it.” She demurred. I then said, “Aw, it’s June 14th; we’re not going to get a killer frost now.” We went to sleep.
In the morning, the tomato plants were all quite dead. I was heartbroken. I resolved to never plant another thing in the earth. It’s one of the few resolutions I’ve kept.
What would you do if you found out your neighbor had been using two feet of your property?
I once discovered that a neighbor had built a tractor shed on, perhaps, 200 square feet of my property off the back corner of his field. He’d built it before I’d purchased the property - probably, from the look of it, many years before. I’m not sure if he realized it was on my property. But, hey! He was a nice guy; I had twenty-five acres of land; I couldn’t see the shed from my house. I said nothing. Besides, he probably could have invoked “squatter’s rights”.
What do you like most about acting in comedies?
Well, basically, they’re fun. It’s great to hear people laugh. Of course, if they don’t laugh, the fun diminishes significantly.
Are there specific challenges to acting in a comedy versus a drama?
One difference is that, in comedy, timing can be of the essence. For instance, the difference between “Take my wife, please!” and “Take my wife, (beat) please!” is huge.
Another challenge is to avoid anticipating laughs. When they don’t come, you’ve got to move right on. Experienced actors have learned to deal with this, but it is tough not to wonder what went wrong when a line that’s had them rolling in the aisles every night since opening goes totally flat on the fifth night. I find it helps to blame the other actors. (KIDDING!)
What do you like most about this play? Why should the audience come see it?
I think Zacarias has given us the chance to see ourselves behaving badly in spite of our best intentions and then allowed us to forgive ourselves and – maybe more importantly – forgive others as well. Furthermore, she has showed us that a little adjustment of attitude can make things right again.
Today, in this country, we don’t seem to be doing a good job of seeing the humanity in those who disagree with us (At least, I’m not doing a good job of it). Reading – and performing – this play has helped take the edge off my anger. I don’t know that we can achieve the happy ending the playwright envisions, but - as the character Frank says at one point - “a man can dream, can’t he?”