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— Kirkus Reviews
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AWARDS/HONORS

THE ALEXANDRITE

 

  • 1st place: Somerset Award for Literary/Contemporary Fiction
  • 1st place: Reader Views Award – Fantasy
  • Bronze Medal: IPPY Award – Best Western/Pacific Novel.
  • “One of the Best Books of the Year”—Kirkus Reviews

Alexandrite

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WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM ALAN ALDA

In 1964, after a year of living the struggling actor’s life in New York, I decided to quit and move back to my hometown of Jackson Michigan. I loved it there. I could imagine a life there, perhaps as a teacher.

Just before I was ready to leave, I got a call from the producer of Buck’s County Playhouse in New Hope, PA, where I’d made my professional debut a year earlier. He wanted me to come do a play called Sunday in New York, starring Alan Alda.

I said of course. That’s all I ever said to acting jobs in those days. I didn’t know much about Alan then, but that didn’t matter. I later found out there was something magic about him. Years afterward, I talked to Harry Morgan, who played Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H. Harry and I were friends. I’d acted in two movies and a TV series with him. He told me in his whole life as a character actor (and there are very few who worked more than Harry did), he never had a better experience working with an actor than he did with Alan.

Last night, I saw an interview with Alan on Charlie Rose. He’s written a new book about communication, empathy, and understanding each other—not as relates to acting, but much more broadly, as relates to communicating and truly understanding each other in all areas of life. The book is called, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

In his mid-twenties, not long before we did Sunday in New York, Alan had taken a workshop for six months with Paul Sills, who founded Second City. When we rehearsed in New Hope, improvisation-based acting was very much on Alan’s mind. Looking back, my impression has always been that when Alan gets something on his mind, he doesn’t let go until he’s gotten every bit of juice out of it (I’m pretty sure he’ll never get the juice out of his passion for communication).

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