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News and Events

By David Ralph


Excuse me.  I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt your round, but I didn’t

see a waiting line, so I figured it would be o.k., since you’re probably in that

time of the round when the early ones are done and the others are all

waiting to make that final last impression.  I know how you feel.


            I just wanted to see this room again.  I used to live around here when I

was in high school. I’m only passing through though on my way to New York.

 I heard there was a tournament going on so I thought I might sneak in;

remember the good times; this room.  It was in this room where I won the

State Championship in “Serious Solo Acting.”  That still sounds funny to


            You’re doing a fine thing here you know.  It’s hard to find judges;

people don’t like the pressure of judging others, I think it stems from

the bible, “Let he whom is without sin cast the first stone!”  Oh you’ll

do fine, just remember to write some comments for improvement and tell them

why you ranked them the way you did.  The kids really do want your advice

on how they can get better.


            I remember when I first started; I thought this whole thing was a joke.

I was one of those “troubled” kids.  I would always get picked on for being

so thin but I thought differently than everyone else; I was wirery.  Every

time some big uber-jock would call me stick figure or toothpick I’d make

sure to punch him in the nose as hard as my little stick harms could

before the inevitability of nature would take over and my “victim” would

use me as a bat to test the sturdiness of the schools pasty brick walls.


      God, I despised school.  One day I was grabbed by a teacher I really only

knew by reputation.  I had heard about his threats to tear people’s

spleens out so when he grabbed me I thought for sure he wanted a stick-

figure beat down, but instead he used some sort of psychic professor power

to get me to join something called forensics.  He didn’t really describe

it he just told me it was fun and I would be good at it.  I joined because

my mom told me forensics was cutting up dead bodies and figuring out how

someone was murdered.  Sounded fun to me, but when I walked into the

classroom the next day I thought, “DO DO DO DO, Welcome to the Twilight



            Kids were talking to the walls and others acted as if they had

schizophrenia; this one girl was screaming at the wall one minute and then

in some manly voice telling it to shut up.  I felt cheated; there weren’t

any dead bodies to dissect.  For a minute I honestly thought I was in the

special-ed class.


         Eventually, I figured out what the class was all about, which you might be

figuring out for yourself today, since there aren’t any dead bodies in

Serious Solo Acting.  SSA; my favorite event to make fun of.  Everyone

that did it had some major issues.  All they ever talked about was eating

disorders, suicide, HIV, getting raped or raping, being abused or abusing,

or the catch all I guess would be “insert disorder here” that leads to a

horrible and painful death.  And of course while you’re talking about

those horrible topics you had to scream and cry at least once or you

weren’t any good.


            Really who, besides mentally disturbed people, would willing do this

event?  Who would be willing watch something so emotionally disturbing?  No

offense; I’m sure this is a great round without all those depressing

topics and the screaming.


   My coach must have thought I was mentally disturbed because he forced me

to do a serious piece.  My fun and light-hearted topic was horrible death

by brain tumor.  He must have been using his psychic brain powers again to

set up some bizarre foreshadowing of my life when he handed me my script.


       My coach taught me that, “Serious Solo Acting is about created emotional

levels and being able to tap into those real emotions.  It’s your chance

to truly feel what other’s have felt and then share that with an

audience.”  I thought his speech was sarcastic, I mean what would a kid

know about brain tumors and death?


            I practiced and I even talked to the wall.  My coach, who hardly ever

gave compliments, said I was pretty good, but, and there was always a but,

I didn’t seem to grasp the feelings well enough.  I told him that I wasn’t

going to scream or cry because that just seemed silly to me.


      The day before my first competition my coach took me to the KU Medical

center just down the road.  I met a boy named Zach Davidson, who was about my age and he was dying of a tumor in his brain.