Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, Doric Wilson.
I have reached an age when the days of my life are numbered like the grains of sand in a fairly intimate fish bowl. It tends to make one look to the past more frequently than to the future. Because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, the landscape was very much a part of what I ultimately became. The Cascade mountains, the high desert of eastern Washington State, the Columbia River Gorge where my grandfather’s ranch was–-this was my real birthplace, however I initially and very firmly denied it. I hated the tumbleweeds and cheat grass and the forever blowing winds of home sweet home. I was determined to be someone far more elegant than the Horse Heaven Hills would permit. I refused to be a character in a Sam Shepard play. I knew in my heart and soul I belonged to Noel Coward.
No one knows where I first encountered theater. It would be years before I would move to town where I could see a movie. Our radio on the ranch was a crystal set strictly reserved for the news and crop reports. All I know is that by the mid-1940s I was putting on plays in my grandfather’s barn with my poor cousins as less than eager actors. King Arthur and his Court or ravaging, pillaging Vikings or Cowboys killing the Indigenous Peoples. All for a penny.
At the end of World War II, I moved to the nearby town of Kennewick to live with my mom and go to school. My mother was a war widow and away at work for long hours seven days a week. I was left all alone with my imagination and a more modern radio. (Most of the playwrights at the Cino in the 1960s grew up with radio, not television.) I never played games with the neighborhood kids, I organized them in huge, costumed, carefully plotted extravaganzas. Julianne Clark remembers, at age seven she was my first leading lady.