Unlike most actors, I never appeared in live theater much. I started acting professionally when I was almost forty, having been in some student and underground—or what would be called low low budget independent—movies here and there since my first of those when I was twenty-two. And though I had a love of the art—or craft, depending who you're talking to—of acting, and wanted to express my creativity as much through that as I had been doing in my writing since I was a boy, I still took it on as a day job to pay for food and rent for me and my two kids I was raising on my own, with the help of women friends now and then, and for my poetry writing. And amazingly it often did.
So I didn't do much theater because I was concentrating on movies and TV to pay the bills. Of the few times I did a play, I had some great experiences, but the most amazing in some ways was my first real stage gig in my early years in L.A. when I replaced the actor who had opened only days before in the role of the counter man in Lanford Wilson's BALM IN GILEAD in its premier L.A. run. It not only was a terrific experience, but even more importantly, a lasting one in terms of relationships.
I am still in touch with a lot of folks from the play and more importantly FEEL close to everyone who was in it. There was a connection made over the couple of months we did the show that has lasted almost three decades and continues to. And the fellow cast members I'm in touch with all feel the same about that and they're mostly people who did a lot more theater than I did. Yet this experience shines as something as unique for them as for me.
Here's a shot of the cast. I can't remember all the names so I won't even bother, except to point out me crouched down in the lower righthand corner and the late Jesse Aragon in the center of the shot, being given the rabbit ears treatment by a man I still connsider my brother (as I did Jesse) Ty Granderson Jones. Whoops, I already named two. I'll leave the rest up to someone with a better memory than my post-brain-op one. But whether I can name everyone in the cast or not, I love 'em all.