Drama students leave their marks on plays of past

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Cleaning out a backstage corner recently, drama teacher Bob Clubbs discovered old scenery flats signed by Jackson High School students who were in productions from the 1940s to the 1990s. Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones was one of hundreds of students who left their marks.

The six flats, along with 11 drama club scrapbooks dating to 1972, will be displayed in the lobby when the drama club's next production, "Way Out West in a Dress," opens Friday.

Signing your name to the back of the flats that are used to make scenery appears to have been a tradition no one remembers.

Saundra Hahn signed her name in 1959 next to the title of the comedy "The Great Big Doorstep." Hahn's last name now is Suedekum and she lives in Cape Girardeau. She doesn't remember signing her name and vaguely recalls being in the play. "It has been too long ago," she said.

But she has used her acting experience, she said laughing, "Every day of my life."

The name Bobby Barks appeared on the flats in 1950 when he was a freshman. Barks, who now lives in Cape Girardeau, doesn't remember the name of the play. He became an auctioneer.

In 1952, James Rhodes and Diane Barnes put their names inside a heart along with the title of the play "Forever Albert."

Madge Roloff was in "Forever Albert" too. Now Madge Burchyett, she remembers playing a mother figure. Burchyett, who graduated in 1955, became a speech pathologist. Her daughter, Bethany Burchyett, is majoring in theater at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

The presiding commissioner signed his name in 1956 next to the play "Jeffrey." He was unavailable to talk about his days on the high school stage.

In 1962, Connie Shambo, who reportedly lives out West now, put her name next to that of the less-than-timeless play "Seventeenth Summer."

Clubbs said the flats will be preserved. He hopes alumni who were in past productions will contact him so they can be made honorary members of the International Thespian Society. The drama club recently affiliated with the society.

The tradition of leaving your name behind continues. Jackson students now sign their names on the bricks backstage. When Clubbs took his students on a field trip to the Lab Theatre at Southeast Missouri State University recently, they saw his name on the wall.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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