While finishing my B.A. in Theatre at USF, I played several Kings and a horse / mule wrangler in "The Tempest", "'Tis Pity She's A Whore" and
"Of Mice and Men".
"The Tempest" was directed by Margarete Forsyth, who was a tremendously talented task master, and starred her Royal Shakespeare alum and husband, Julian Forsyth. My scenes as King Alonso of Naples with Julian as Prospero
were electric and this was the best Shakespeare production I have ever acted in from set, to costumes, to direction, to lighting, to special effects.
We also had the marvelous Mel Churcher to teach us her
vocal tricks of the trade.
Another twist to this production was how Margarete dressed the shipwrecked company in business attire with guns in shoulder holsters rather than swords. All of the island inhabitants were dressed in period costume. It was a fantastic take that translated to standing ovations nightly.
The John Ford classic "'Tis Pity She's a Whore" was first produced in the late 1620's and published in a quarto printing in 1633. Our USF production was directed by the incomparable, David Frankel. It had some brilliant actors in it and it gave me a chance to die on stage within inches of the audience.
A difficult tragedy to produce and direct yet was a terrific show.
I also ended up casting two of the actors in this production in "Lonestar",
Jack Holloway and Adam Belvo! Both are brilliant!
Monica Steele was the insightful director of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men".
When I auditioned for the role of Slim I already told her I had done Curly twenty some years earlier at Theatricum Botanicum in Los Angeles. She asked me during my audition what I (Slim) thought about Curly and I spat on the ground and growled how much I hated the little runt. That was the start of a production that I consider to be some of the best stage work I have ever done. Brilliant cast with Jack Holloway as Lenny, Kevin Whalen as George and Adam Belvo as Candy. Monica drew pure soul sweating out of each of us so that at the end of each show it took me hours to acclimate to the present. My son Logan, who was about 9 at the time, was so mad at me that I was part of the people that killed Lenny. That I hadn't saved him.
On the way home after opening night, Logan was in the back seat and all of a sudden started to applaud. He said he was sorry he hadn't given me a standing ovation like everyone else but he had been upset about Lenny until he saw him come out for bows. You see, I had the cast over to our house to play cards and swim in the pool prior to our opening. I got a phone call and I gave my poker hand to Logan and said he could bet whatever chips he thought was the right amount. When I was done with the call, I came back and Logan had all of the chips in front of him and Jack asked me if he was always this good at poker. Who knew?
That's my boy!
Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival reviewed our show and said:
KCACTF Region IV Production Response
Of Mice and Men
University of South Florida
Director: Monica Steele
Respondent: David Moberg
"...How marvelous to have an actor of Mark Marple's experience and age participate in the production. He lends a tremendous credibility and integrity to the play's reality. I particularly enjoyed his activity blocking and listening. In watching him, I was completely unaware that he was "acting..." He had a wonderful economy in his choices and execution of those choices...no wasted actor energy. He had only relaxed and focused commitment to the character moment by moment regardless of whether that moment consisted of rolling a cigarette or
stopping a fight."