In the theatre, there are a number of superstitions. One must never utter the name “Macbeth” while inside the theatre. A bad dress rehearsal foretells a good opening night. Never wish an actor “good luck” before he sets foot onstage.
Pioneering acolytes of Thespis that we were, we created our own set of irrational beliefs.
“C’mon, JT…you have to.”
“I’m trying…just…okay, there we go.”
“God, that’s so gross.”
The Drama Club calendar – indeed our entire worlds – revolved around two major events: Musical in the Fall, Festival in the Spring. Festival was not for the casual, application-padding thespian. You had to be a whole different level of dedicated to even consider it.
The agreement at the time was that Hig directed the musical, oversaw Thespian Night, and taught the classes. He was the Big Kahuna in all aspects….except the Festival. That was Bud’s domain.
Bud taught English, but his true love was the stage. At the age of five, Bud was cast in a play as Joan Crawford’s son. Somehow he had made it from the Great White Way to the slightly less glamorous South Shore, and to Hingham. And Hingham he led to its great triumph in the 1970s, when “The Crucible” made it ALL THE WAY TO THE FINALS.
That Hingham had not made it to the finals since was a dark cloud that hung over our heads. Like the Curse of the Bambino, Hingham seemed doomed to never again grace the stage of the Hancock. A yellowing, peeling poster from “The Crucible” dominated Bud’s classroom. It hung as a perpetual reminder of Hingham’s former glory, a withering rebuke, an emblem of both shame and inspiration. Try as we might, we would never live up to “The Crucible.”
Until our bare, no-holds-barred production of Ramon Delgado’s “The Little Toy Dog” changed everything.
“Don’t rush me. I’ve got this.”
“I think you underestimate the importance of timing here, JT.”
“So, SO gross.”
In hindsight, it was a really strange piece. This somewhat expressionistic play followed childhood sweethearts Tom and Mary Pat as they faced the realities of adulthood. How it wound up in Bud’s hands was anyone’s guess. We scoffed at its archaic language, and its bizarre Greek chorus of people pretending to be trees and office furniture. But it turned out to be the perfect vehicle for us, our personalities, and our tendency to think of ourselves as an impenetrable fortress of awesome. This was, after all, an ensemble piece. We enjoyed working with each other, enjoyed one another’s company, and so the stilted dialogue and awkward staging came easily to us, even as we mocked it.
Yet we were convinced that the reason we made it ALL THE WAY TO THE FINALS was because JT was farting for luck right before the curtain rose.
I think it started purely as an accident of chance. JT cut one before a full run-through and there were no notes afterwards. By the time we performed at the prelims, we fully equated JT’s flatulence with success. JT farted, and we moved on to the semis in Swansea.
JT farted in Swansea, and the curse ended. We were going to THE FINALS.