How I Started
I will start your next lesson by saying that I stand corrected by my wife. She DID strip. But not completely. She even had a name: Cherry La Bomb, emblazoned in red letters across her bottom......oh yeeeaah. I remember now. Heh, heh.
So Josh. You asked: 1. How did I get to where I am? 2. How did I start out? 3. Drama school or no? 4. What was my first professional production? 5. And how did I end up in the Bay?
Wow. I hate self examination. These questions cover a lot of ground--almost 40 years when I fell into the profession of acting at age 17 in High School. A brief sketch of my life follows:
I was going to be a Veterinarian, got into a play in High School, got hooked on Theatre, got a very small Drama scholarship to New Mexico State University, was a horrible student, did many plays and had too much fun, got kicked out on both academic and disciplinary probation, got married, worked at various odd jobs to pay the rent and help put Ms. La Bomb through school, left Las Cruces, moved to Albuquerque, realized that I wasn't going to get the experience I needed in New Mexico, moved to Sacramento while my wife got her Masters Degree in Costume (what else would a stripper get a degree in?) , stepped into the professional arena by auditioning at Ashland Oregon, by some minor miracle got hired, did 3 seasons there, was offered an internship at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, did 2 seasons there, joined the union, came up to San Francisco to audition for an Arts program which was independently judged by 3 Bay Area professionals one of whom was Joy Carlin (the then interim Artistic Director of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre) who hired me at BRT to play a punk rocker (I got an extra gig in a film from that) , spent 14 years there as an Associate Artist in that fine Resident Company of actors, and now some years and theatres later I am here yet. I love this area, the climate, the cultures, and the open minds. It is my home. My theater family lives here.
So no, Josh, I didn't go to a Drama school. It probably would've been a good thing for me, but being the young, newly freed dolt that I was the results would likely have been the same--I would've just gotten kicked out of a more prestigious school. I did try to discipline myself in some fashion--I worked where I felt I was learning and where I felt myself grow, and I got some good breaks--I managed to work with people who saw something in me they felt worth nurturing and who helped to shape and teach me. Learning to recognize these people when they come into your life will be part of your education.
These days though, the world of Theatre is less forgiving and a good Theatre School is a must but I encourage you to finish your education regardless of where you're going to school. Remember Grasshopper, you must first learn the rules in order to break them properly.
These are the answers to questions # 2, 3 and 5.
Now on to one and four.