7 Up


I wrote before about the playwriting course that I took during my first year at Penn State. And here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure that I can remember each of the other students who were in that course, eight of us altogether, all of the others Theatre Arts majors naturally, although I can’t recall any of their names. But through the magic of saved playbills, I do have two of their names.

First of all, there was The Couple. I call them that because they were most clearly, well, a couple, a guy and a gal. I don’t know if they were actually married, but they were always together, and if I recall correctly, he did almost all the talking for both of them. He had this habit, when he wanted to emphasize a point, of saying something like, “It’s all so—” [pause as if looking for the right word] “—damned—” [found it!] “—annoying.” Very effective the first time he used it, and even the second time, but as he used it at least once per class session, it just became, well, annoying.

Then there were the two Hippies. I only call them that because they both had longish hair and beards and to differentiate them from the rest of the group. They seemed to be good friends and always sat together. When I started writing my two character play, they were always the ones to read aloud the latest rewrites in class, and they did a pretty good job of it. I’ll get back to one of them in a minute.

Then there were the two Handsome Men. They both could have been sent from central casting to play, well, handsome men, and they also seemed to be good friends although they never sat together. One was tall, dark and handsome, the other was tall, fair haired and handsome. I saw both of them in campus productions that year, but I can only find the name of one of them. I’ll get back to him in a moment.

And finally there was the Lone Woman. I think her name may have been Diane, but don’t hold me to it. She was the friendliest of the group, or at least she’s the one I recall speaking to most often outside of class. A very nice young woman. And she’s the only one whose play I recall. Well, I recall the opening.

The stage directions called for a tall, bald-headed woman to enter completely naked and begin combing her hair. Not everyone grasped the idea right away.

I also recall talking to her after the class was finished, and she implied that she had not gotten a very good grade. Don’t know why.

Anyway, back to the fair haired handsome man. His name was Ted Martin. I say this with some authority because he played Marat in the campus production of Marat/Sade (no, I’m not going to write out the full title). He was very good, and if you know the play you’ll know that it’s a difficult role.

I’ve tried to see if he had any sort of professional career afterwards, but all I can find is a Ted Martin who played the Boy from the New Left in a Broadway production of Red, White and Maddox which ran from Jan 26, 1969 to Mar 01, 1969. Certainly possible. And in 1971 there is a Ted Martin who played the Desert Pacifist in the movie Punishment Park. Don’t know if either of those was him, but…

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And then there is Walter Walsh, one of the guys I characterized as hippies. As far as I know, he was the only one from that class to have his play produced. On May 30, 1968, just a few months after the class ended, the 5 O’Clock Theatre mounted a production of 7 Up. I saw the performance, and I recall absolutely nothing about it. The only thing I remember about his play is that in class Walter said he chose the name 7 Up because he liked the drink, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the play, which I think was probably one of those plotless things, but as I say, I don’t recall it.

There is a Walter Walsh in the IMDb database. No biographical information, and he didn’t appear in anything until the 90s, but judging by one of the pictures, he could be the right age.

Anyway, back to 7 Up. I did have a bit of a surprise when I found the playbill a little while ago. Roy Laird, whom I mentioned in a previous post, was in the chorus (I assume that was more of a Greek chorus than a singing one). The following year, I lived in the same dorm as Roy and got to know him quite well, but I doubt that I remembered him from 7 Up.

Another chorine was named Joanie Kalejta (Ka-LAY-ta), and I have an anecdote about her, but as I was an immature college jerk in that anecdote and the only point of the story is that I embarrassed her, I’ll probably never tell it. I don’t mind telling stories where I come off as an idiot, but I don’t think this one is worth it.

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