The Gospel Truth

Getting Into The Act | December 16, 2010

My mother had always been an active patron of the theater.  She gave me tickets for my very first Broadway play for my 18th birthday.

We saw Camelot with Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet.  They were just names to me then.

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My 1st play

I have seen innumerable plays off and on Broadway ever since.  I think Chorus Line is my favorite play of all time.  I still have echoes of the dance cadence…5, 6, 7, 8, resounding in my head.

As a parent I found my job much easier when my children had one special activity that defined their adolescence.

While my oldest son had his tennis and his younger brother seemed more to gravitate toward baseball, though his tastes were much more catholic as was the philosophy of his high school, my daughter is another story.

As a high school  junior she was a setter on the volleyball team.  At barely 5’ tall that was perfectly understandable.

Before the season was completed, she was offered an opportunity to appear in a school play.

As they say the rest is history.

Michelle has been able to carry that love of the theater well into her adulthood.

I had taken her to her first Broadway play when she was just 13.

We saw Jim Dale and Glenn Close in Barnum. I think she had gotten hooked then, though she always had a bit of the theatrical in her.

I remember her first performance was an impersonation.  She came into my den–she was just three years old–she dropped her jaw, puckered her lips, furrowed her brow while raising both hands in a mock victory salute…I AM NOT A CROOK!….I’M GOING TO CHINA!

After grad school she rekindled her love of acting and has been in close to 40 local plays.

Michelle has played every imaginable role, including a grieving mother, a repressed single woman, a terrorist, a battered wife, (Stella) several loose women, a handful of Jewish male and female roles, a 6’5″ black guy and as well as a pair of black nationalists, a lesbian, and most recently a fearful woman whose husband has taken out a contract on her life. (Reckless)

'Reckless'

Her Husband Wants to Kill Her

In 2006 she was awarded the very first Kevin Kline Award for Best Actress in a Drama.

As Kevin handed her the award, she exclaimed:  Kevin Kline gave me something.  It was a proud moment for our whole family.

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He handed my daughter something!

I cannot say I was jealous of her because my one acting performance was in one of those forgettable plays they made us do in grade school.

I played a hen-pecked husband, a Mr. Gabble, who was married to a short Irish girl, who in real life became a nurse.

Did I tell you that my wife is less than 5’3”, has a nursing degree and is an O’Rourke?

But I envied all the fun she seemed to be having.

So the following year, I was sitting in my favorite restaurant in Clayton…at my favorite table, eating at my favorite restaurant, reading the New York Times and watching Fox News.  Bill Clinton is not the only one who can multi-task!

I was reading an article in the paper about the Philadelphia Phillies’ anticipated 10,000th loss…no not in one season but in a lineage that stretched back to 1883 I think.

The article mentioned a 70-year old man who did a one-man show, called The Philly Fan.

I got to thinking…like the younger brother, Mike in Chorus Line, who after watching his sister perform, exclaimed, I can do that!….for the St. Louis Browns.

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I can do that!

My knowledge of the Browns could be my gateway into Showbiz!

As Jimmy Durante used to quip—everybody wants to get into the act.

So I went home and jotted down all my ideas and a script began to evolve that over time changed into something more than a one-man show.

I had written, what some have described as a deeply poignant rendition of an older man whose whole life had been defined by loss, after loss, after…

Both his favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Browns and his wife of 29 years had been lost to him–the one to her grave and the other to Baltimore in 1953. (I feel a W. C. Fields quote coming on!)

When the play opens he is now 78 and the only thing he has left, except a few grandkids, is his memories.

The "cast" with his director and his playwright

And he is deeply afraid that he is starting to forget things.

The Last Memory of an Ol’ Brownie Fan was produced in October of 2009 by First Run Theatre. It went for its scheduled six performances.

I followed this one with a pair of plays after that I call my pro-life plays.

The first one was about abortion, a subject I have studied, written about and talked about for a quarter century.  I always thought the toughest sell was when the life of the mother was impacted.

Taking my inspiration from Henry Morton Robinson’s wonderful book, The Cardinal, and movie of the same name, for my play, A Perfect Choice.

The father was forced to make a gut-wrenching choice that his surviving daughter could never understand.

He told the doctors to  save both! They failed!

But more than that Perfect is about a reconciliation of a father and daughter on a New Year’s Eve, several years after the daughter’s mother had died in childbirth.

He told them to save both!

I truly got my inspiration for this one the previous November in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The Theater of the Word, a St. Louis Catholic production company produced it, also in October of 2009.  I think only David Mamet, Neil Simon and myself had two plays playing simultaneously.

I have no recollection of my inspiration for the third play but every time I think of it, I get a warm sensation in my heart because the male character in A Moment of Grace is a pure creation that seems to have evolved from the deep recesses of my soul.

Despair in an elevator

While the play is ostensibly about two people thinking about suicide independent of one another, it is more a positive commentary of how precious the gift of life is.

First Run Theatre is producing Grace on the stage at DeSmet High School in Creve Coeur in mid January of 2011. (14th, 15th, 16th (M), 21st, 22nd and 23rd (M).  It is paired with a shorter play, Don’t Stop Believing by Courtney Kennedy.  Anna Blair is directing both plays!  Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors.

Check out the ad for all the details.

First Runs’ phone number for ticket information is 314-352-5114. Or write them: 

For additional information on the old Brownies, check this out:

http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/metro/news/article_366fe192-b340-5b6c-8885-bd9453b6120f.html

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5 Comments »

  1. Bill B:

    Nice job. Have you ever thought about writing something? I think that may be your calling. (Where’s the wink icon?)

    My best wishes go out to you and yours for a safe, peaceful, & sacred Christmas!

    BTW, Pop Flies just arrived here and it looks great!

    Regards,

    Bill McCurdy

    Comment by Bill McCurdy — December 17, 2010 @ 12:35 am

  2. Double winkies to you my friend. BB

    Comment by bbprof — December 17, 2010 @ 4:42 am

  3. Hey, Bill! Thanks for including my pic in this blog. I loved working with Charly and you on this play. I’m really looking forward to A Moment of Grace (after all, I AM the producer ;-)!)

    Comment by Jim Meady — December 17, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

  4. BB, It was wonderful to read about some of your life and your family. I feel like I know you better. Keep writing plays. My best for a Blessed Christmas and a Holy New Year. Say hello to your wife, daughter and two sons. Pax

    Comment by Mary B — December 18, 2010 @ 3:59 am

  5. Bill, thanks for the sharing some of your life. I look forward to seeing your play. I would love to see Michelle on stage. will she be doing anything soon.

    Comment by Scotty — December 20, 2010 @ 5:02 pm


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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