Lee Chapman reciting “Antic Spring”

April 2020

I’m one of six “teenagers” going on a “picnic.” How droll. We six did the exact same thing yesterday. Well, not the exact same thing.

Yesterday we piled into Ginger’s parents’ car and drove to the park with our so-suburban “picnic” baskets and a styrofoam cooler filled with—pop. I tried to elevate the event by reciting a few lines of poetry—“Under a spreading chestnut- tree…”—but, alas, the other five “teens” would rather discuss high school and their myriad friends. (Why was I with these people?) The lowlight was me being attacked not only verbally, by five “teenagers,” but also physically, by five hundred hungry ants. In my pants. Disgusting beyond belief. Even more disgusting: my companions’ amusement at my predicament.

All in all, however, despite an automobile comprising nothing more than six folding chairs, the audience loved it. Many giggles, even a few guffaws. Opening- night curtain calls. A triumph.

Today: the second-night curse. Makeup is disgusting as usual: some whiney beauty shop hopeful trying to cover my unfortunate blemishes with odoriferous sticky greasepaint. Costuming, moreover, is a complete disaster: my beret has vanished. How is a poet supposed to recite Henry Wadsworth Longfellow without a beret?

The ultimate catastrophe, however, is when, even though our six-folding- chair vehicle is cruising along at, presumably, 60 miles per hour, Blossom, “barely fourteen and idiotic,” opens her door—and hops out. Apparently she lost her place and jumped ahead several pages in the script.

The rest of us look at each other and then at the audience. Ginger, sensibly I suppose, hits the brakes, puts the vehicle in park, and turns off the ignition. Those still in the car exit, with baskets, with cooler, sans beret, and try to engage in writerly badinage. And imaginary ants. From the audience: not another titter. Hours later: polite parental applause.

Joliet Township High School West Campus’s production of Robert Nail’s one-act—“comedy”—Antic Spring, in which I was cast, of course, as “Robert, seventeen and stricken with himself, careful to speak correctly, a poet,” was my first, and last, thespian endeavor.

1 Reply to “Antic Spring”

  1. Not even sure where this is going, but, smiling, am prompted to REPLY:

    In the spring of 1973, as a member of our high-school drama class, I was cast to the role of Ginger’s tag-along younger brother named Elbert. In our performances at local, Regional and Provincial adjudications, I can’t actually recall my counterpart Blossum as being “idiotic”, however she was certainly TWITTER-PATED! At the time, I enjoyed the opportunity to “act out” my very real uncertainties about boy-girl relationships, highlighted by the well-practiced “pretend” hand-holding scene where I try in vain to scare her off with deliberate antics of a “crazed” idiot. (Of course, it didn’t work, but the audience loved it).

    Otherwise delightful and still memorable for me, MY reality is that as a group of fun-loving teens we actually may have learned a few “lessons” in romantic love.
    Ron, from Vermilion AB.

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