This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Crazy Old Man

So there's this crazy old man who changed my life. I saw him frequently for two years and every so often since then, but he made an impact on me I struggle to explain. He was my theater teacher, my director, and still is to some extent my mentor and always my friend:

Nick Weber.

Anyone who knows me will know at least a couple Mr. Weber stories from my theater days. If you mention DSHA, high school, theater, Shakespeare, or any combination of the four, I'll talk for hours about this man.

I met Mr. Weber the summer coming into my freshman year of high school. I was this short, gangly, awkward-looking, loud fourteen year old trying out for "Oklahoma" even though I could barely sing. I remember distinctively singing, "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No" and looking at this man in his late sixties out in the audience.

He was balding, a few liver spots here and there, and those classic tufts of white hair on either side of his head. He had these thin silver glasses perched half way down his nose, scribbling furiously...then he paused and heard me singing. He put his pen down, looked up at me, and his left eye started to twitch. Uncontrollably. I didn't make it into the chorus that fall for the musical.

Mr. Weber would go on to be my teacher that fall in Acting I and would be my director in the spring. He gave me my first lead role (besides the Wicked Witch of the West in middle school) and fostered my love of theater. It was the smallest role in the lead cast, but as one of two freshman in this lead cast, I felt special and lucky to be a part of the production.

At the end of the year, he pulled me aside and told me he recommended me for Advanced Acting in the fall since he was retiring. It meant a lot to me he was doing this last thing for me as a student. The next year around December, I got a letter in the mail saying Mr. Weber was coming back to replace his replacement for the semester. I never screamed louder after getting mail, even my acceptance letter to Iowa.

"The Imaginary Invalid" and my lead role in that production coupled with various emotional issues going on at the moment made for a trying semester. Yet I put my all into that role, working harder on Argan than almost any character since. Moliere's play gave me a reason to go on in the time I was diagnosed with PTSD and the years before I received the correct treatment.  The faith Mr. Weber instilled in me and the talent he helped me foster meant everything that spring.

The next spring when my mom died, I held my composure fairly well throughout the wake. That is, I sucked back the tears until I saw Mr. Weber's head coming up the line. I lost it completely when he held me in a huge hug, telling me he was so sorry for my loss. I had an infinite amount of respect for that man who discovered something in myself I did not know existed and he was here, at my mother's wake, even though I hadn't seen him in months.

Since my junior year, I've seen Mr. Weber a handful of times around DSHA when I was still there and a couple when I've visited coincidentally on days he has as well. Last year he started a blog I read occasionally when I was abroad and hearing his voice in my head again made me smile. My high school friend, Gaby, messaged me and let me know his autobiography was finally published: The Circus that Ran Away with a Jesuit Priest. I think I need to get on this and purchase it now for the man who has fascinated me for almost a decade.

Tomorrow is my final showcase for Performing Autobiography with the written, directed, and produced student pieces. Mine is called, "Object of Your Affection" and don't forget the end collaborative piece with our erotica short stories. The latter will be presented with my class sprawled out on each other in a massive orgy. Hm, I'm guessing stuff like this wouldn't have worked the best at an all-girl's Catholic high school.

When I look into the audience tomorrow when I perform, I'll imagine Mr. Weber is sitting in his usual seat in the back left hand corner with that odd, twisted expression on his face in concentration. I thought for the longest time that it was a negative face, but it turns out it was a positive one. Here's to hoping someone out there scrunches up their eyebrows for me.
I'm on the left as Argan in "The Imaginary Invalid"

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