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Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Short Acting Career

My short exposure to acting was in 1961 at Rochester Junior College in Rochester, MN.  I was one of 5 actors performing the one-act-play  "Submerged" by Herman Stuart Cottman and Clay Shaw under the direction of our drama coach, Robert O. Wise, Jr.   A photo of the actors is shown below with humble blogger at the far left.  I scanned this photo from the RaJuco (Rochester Junior College) yearbook of that year.


"Submerged" was written in 1929.  Its premise is a crippled submarine in which the Commander (named Shaw) has decided to launch himself out of the torpedo hold with a note on his body indicating the location of the submarine for would be rescuers to see.   It means certain death for the Commander.  The drama revolves around other men wanting to take the Commander's place, a drawing of cards which gives the task to the coward Brice who doesn't want to go.  The Commander ultimately sacrifices himself, and the men lock Brice into another compartment which springs a leak and Brice dies.   We never learn if the men are rescued.

In our practice for the one-act-play, director Mr. Wise wanted us to be smoking cigarettes during the tense conversation.   I suggested that since our crew was confined to a small compartment in the submarine it didn't make sense to use up the remaining oxygen by smoking cigarettes!!  He took my suggestion and tossed the cigarettes out of the play.

In doing a little research for this post, I was astonished to learn that Clay Shaw, one of the authors of "Submerged" was the only person actually charged and prosecuted in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy!  He had attended the same High School in New Orleans as Lee Harvey Oswald and had other suspicious connections.   [Note: A fascinating account of Clay's personal and literary life including his prosecution (found not guilty) was written by Michael Snyder and can be downloaded as a document at:  www.und.nodak.edu/instruct/jfkconference/JFKChapter81.doc  ]