Dwain Johnson: Stories

Nec ultrices dui sapien eget mi. Sollicitudin ac orci phasellus egestas. Pellentesque elit eget gravida cum sociis natoque penatibus. Ultricies integer quis auctor elit. Elementum pulvinar etiam non quam lacus suspendisse faucibus interdum. Pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin. Integer vitae justo eget magna fermentum iaculis eu non. Vulputate enim nulla aliquet porttitor lacus luctus. Integer feugiat scelerisque varius morbi. Nec dui nunc mattis enim ut tellus. Vitae auctor eu augue ut lectus arcu. Non arcu risus quis varius.

KEVIN FJELSTED

Kevin Fjelsted was blind since birth.

He was a pretty amazing teenager already when he volunteered to re-wire the Mayo High School auditorium's sound board and signed up to work in the school's new television studio. He had a solid group of friends as well--- friends that not only accepted Kevin as an equal but proved it by helping Kevin have a bit of fun with his lack of sight. (Kevin got behind the wheel of someone's car in the Mayo parking lot one day after school. With one pal on the floor operating the brakes, another lying down on the passenger seat helping Kevin steer and a third in the back seat navigating, the blind student drove past a group of Kevin's buddies as they waited for the bus.)

So, it was not surprising when Kevin decided that after being on the technical end of Mayo's theater productions, he wanted to try being on stage. He auditioned for Sidney Kingsley's Detective Story and won the part of Endicott Sims.

This was 1973. There was no great national conversation about equity or awareness of the differently abled. Kevin was still referred to as "the blind kid" more often than not. There were a lot of doors closed to people like him. Except for those doors that were routinely opened by educators like my father.

You see, there was absolutely no reason for my father to ask Kevin the question he asked shortly after Kevin had been cast--- absolutely no reason not to slightly modify Endicott Sims to fit Kevin.

Except my dad didn't assume Kevin wanted Endicott altered.

Instead, my dad looked at an extraordinary young man and left the door open for him to be challenged to succeed once again.

"Kevin, would you like to play the role as blind or as sighted?"

Kevin thought for a moment and replied, "I'd like to try playing him as sighted.

And so, my father embarked on the task of teaching a 17-year-old who had never seen a day in his life how to appear to be sighted. Kevin did not know, for example, that sighted people swung their arms when the walked. Eye contact was a big undertaking. My dad had to teach him how people looked at their watch... The only obstacle that bested Kevin was a long cross from downstage right to upstage left. Keven just couldn't do it without a hesitant stutter-step. The solution? A one-inch-wide strip of carpeting was put on the stage floor that Keven could follow with his foot.

The night before dress rehearsal at Mr. J's Mayo was always "Picture Night." Families were invited to come and take all the photos of their kids they wished to and my dad turned that into an actor lesson as well. Photographers were encouraged to get up on the stage and walk amongst the actors in order to get close-ups. Actors were expected to focus and concentrate. If a cross needed to be made and a photographer was in your way, it was expected that you adjust and adapt in character.

The media--- who am I kidding?--- the newspaper was invited to come as well. These were back in the days when the Rochester Post Bulletin would give as many column inches to educational theater as they did to the civic theater and even the Guthrie. They wrote about the themes of the plays and the message the directors were trying to make. And they wrote about the participants.

The Post Bulletin photographer didn't know much about Kevin that night. He may have been a last-minute substitute; I can't remember for sure. He arrived at the start of the show and spent two hours getting the shots he needed and then waited to do his interviews.

At the end of the rehearsal, he sought out my father and asked, with complete sincerity---

"I heard you have a blind kid in the show. Which one was he?"

My father turned toward his cast member and raised his two fists in triumph---

"Kevin, we did it!!"

JAY TOOGOOD

Rochester Post Bulletin by Pauline Walle

When Jay Toogood was lying in the hospital with one hand amputated and the nerves destroyed in his other wrist last summer he got a call from his high school drama coach letting him know he still had his job as stage manager this year.

"We're interested in your brain, not just your hands," said Dwain Johnson at Mayo.

Jay sets props for the bakery scene
Thus Jay is busy on the set of Cyrano [de Bergerac] this week, directing the efforts of 60 tech workers backstage. And after the 7 p m. stage call on opening night Thursday, he'll be boss of the show.

Jay, a senior, was the victim of a fire-related accident in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area last summer. Watching for flames on top of a cabin, the youth counselor fell off the roof and automatically grabbed, catching 14,400 volts.

The mishap put him through nearly 20 trips to surgery, at least 10 of them major. He has a prosthesis on his left arm. Doctors are attempting to save the use of the other with transplants.

Amazingly, Jay is able to drive a car and virtually take care of himself including such chores as brushing his teeth.

"It takes a little longer, but I get it done," he smiles.

Displaying the independence of any youth his age, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Gary Toogood has gone on about the business of classes, plays, con-certs and parties with his girlfriend. He is being tutored in one subject for which he missed some work. He has even fitted in a vacation break to Barbados with friends.

An active member of Bethel Lutheran's youth group. Jay has Considered the ministry, and law, and will be going to Rochester Community College for at least a year while he thinks about his career.

But right now he's concentrating on a play which has to take shape by curtain time Thursday. His assistant climbed a ladder in the wings Tuesday night and other students hammered away at parts of the set. Jay walked around with a clipboard and helped create some props. He can pick up a piece of paper off the floor with his prosthesis and came over with a roll of paper toweling when the reporter got into some paint.

He typifies the type of dedication that Johnson sees returning to speech and drama. "We had the demonstration period, and then the time when theater was a social event and some kids wouldn't come out if it couldn't all be fun." he said "These kids really work at it. It's serious business again."

Johnson has always wanted to do "Cyrano" because "romanticism shows us the way things can be, when realism tells us that's the way it is." Jay Toogood's attitude quietly parallels that theory. Right now the play's the thing and the show must go on.

With his whole life.

LIVESTOCK ONSTAGE

Never act with kids or animals. It's the age-old theatrical adage. Well, Dwain couldn't say he hadn't been warned. Nevertheless, he went ahead with staging Teahouse of the August Moon, complete with goat and piglet.

The diva-goat (lower left) eyes the Jeep suspiciously
Rochester, MN in 1972 was big enough to be considered a small city but not so urban that it didn't feature farm lands within easy driving distance. Finding domestic livestock for a high school play was surprisingly easy. In fact, the father of a cast member was a veterinarian who liked to keep farm animals as pets. So it was that the necessary beasties were rounded up by Mayo High School's version of Central Casting.

Of course, with any theatrical endeavor there lies the possibility of giant egos and power struggles. Teahouse's resident diva came in the form of a goat with attitude.

But he hadn't met Mr. J.

The plan was simple: lead the goat up to the Jeep that had been parked center stage and have him climb up on top. Except the goat didn't want to climb up on top. I don't know whether he felt the cross was unmotivated or if he was concerned about his lighting but he stopped at the foot of the Jeep and refused to budge. The teenaged handler was too shy to press the matter.

Mr. J, the farmer's son, had no such qualms.

He took the animal's lead, backed him up a few feet and walked purposefully towards the vehicle. When they reached the Jeep, in one fluid movement, Dwain pulled up on the goat's lead, pulling the collar upwards and causing his temperamental ruminant to do a cartoon gag and scramble upwards to the top of the Jeep as fast as he could go.

Mr. J then turned and guided the goat back down, returned to the starting position and tried the maneuver again. Without so much as hand movement on Dwain's part the goat completed the climb without complaint and did it every time thereafter.

I suspect the goat got flowers on opening night. No doubt, he found them delicious.


Another common condition with rookie actors can be stage fright. Thus it was with the piglet.

He decided from his first foray onto the stage that he was not cut out for a life in the theater and said as much at the top of his piggy lungs every. single. rehearsal.

"No problem," volunteered the veterinarian. "I have a sedative that won't knock him out but will relax him enough to make him quiet."

Except that it really relaxed him. It relaxed everything.

Ask anyone involved with Mayo High School's 1972 production of Teahouse of the August Moon about what it's like to work with pungent pig diarrhea everywhere and they'll tell you a sad story.

JIM KURPIUS

Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim. Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui. Etiam rhoncus. Maecenas tempus, tellus eget condimentum rhoncus, sem quam semper libero, sit amet adipiscing sem neque sed ipsum. Nam quam nunc, blandit vel, luctus pulvinar, hendrerit id, lorem. Maecenas nec odio et ante tincidunt tempus. Donec vitae sapien ut libero venenatis faucibus. Nullam quis ante. Etiam sit amet orci eget eros faucibus tincidunt. Duis leo. Sed fringilla mauris sit amet nibh. Donec sodales sagittis magna. Sed consequat, leo eget bibendum sodales, augue velit cursus

THE IMAGINARY INVALID

Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim. Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui. Etiam rhoncus. Maecenas tempus, tellus eget condimentum rhoncus, sem quam semper libero, sit amet adipiscing sem neque sed ipsum. Nam quam nunc, blandit vel, luctus pulvinar, hendrerit id, lorem. Maecenas nec odio et ante tincidunt tempus. Donec vitae sapien ut libero venenatis faucibus. Nullam quis ante. Etiam sit amet orci eget eros faucibus tincidunt. Duis leo. Sed fringilla mauris sit amet nibh. Donec sodales sagittis magna. Sed consequat, leo eget bibendum sodales, augue velit cursus

EVENING VISITOR

Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt.
Dwain Johnson and his Tech Director, Noreen Robbins Johnson
Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim. Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui. Etiam rhoncus. Maecenas tempus, tellus eget condimentum rhoncus, sem quam semper libero, sit amet adipiscing sem neque sed ipsum. Nam quam nunc, blandit vel, luctus pulvinar, hendrerit id, lorem. Maecenas nec odio et ante tincidunt tempus. Donec vitae sapien ut libero venenatis faucibus. Nullam quis ante. Etiam sit amet orci eget eros faucibus tincidunt. Duis leo. Sed fringilla mauris sit amet nibh. Donec sodales sagittis magna. Sed consequat, leo eget bibendum sodales, augue velit cursus

LI'L ABNER

Anyone who remembers Dwain Johnson in the '70s or '80s remembers a solidly built guy. However, this was not always the case. In the '50s and '60s he was a bit of a beanpole. And it was this beanpole who wandered into a dime store with his wife one day and noticed a bodybuilding magazine.

"Perfect!" he thought. The bodybuilder poses featured were exactly what he needed to teach the boys in Li'l Abner for the scene in which Yokumberry Tonic transforms them into muscle-men. So, he grabbed the magazine and headed off to checkout. While he waited in line, it suddenly occurred to him how silly and possibly cliched he looked. Would the checkout clerk smirk, thinking Dwain was the proverbial "97-pound weakling"?

Self-consciousness took over and, as he sheepishly handed the magazine over to the young guy who worked as cashier, he began an elaborate explanation that the magazine wasn't for him-- that he was a high school theater director and he was directing the musical Li'l Abner and there was a scene in it where a bunch of guys are transformed into muscle-men and the kids didn't know the bodybuilding poses and---

"Mister..." the kid behind the counter drawled with an utterly bored tone. "I don't care why you're buying this magazine. Can you move along now?"

LOUDER!

Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim. Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui. Etiam rhoncus. Maecenas tempus, tellus eget condimentum rhoncus, sem quam semper libero, sit amet adipiscing sem neque sed ipsum. Nam quam nunc, blandit vel, luctus pulvinar, hendrerit id, lorem. Maecenas nec odio et ante tincidunt tempus. Donec vitae sapien ut libero venenatis faucibus. Nullam quis ante. Etiam sit amet orci eget eros faucibus tincidunt. Duis leo. Sed fringilla mauris sit amet nibh. Donec sodales sagittis magna. Sed consequat, leo eget bibendum sodales, augue velit cursus

THE MICROVINE (And other shtick)

Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor.

THE MICROVINE - GRAFFITI - STATUES - STAGEHAND

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim. Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui. Etiam rhoncus. Maecenas tempus, tellus eget condimentum rhoncus, sem quam semper libero, sit amet adipiscing sem neque sed ipsum. Nam quam nunc, blandit vel, luctus pulvinar, hendrerit id, lorem. Maecenas nec odio et ante tincidunt tempus. Donec vitae sapien ut libero venenatis faucibus. Nullam quis ante. Etiam sit amet orci eget eros faucibus tincidunt. Duis leo. Sed fringilla mauris sit amet nibh. Donec sodales sagittis magna. Sed consequat, leo eget bibendum sodales, augue velit cursus

PRE-SHOW SPEECHES

Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim. Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui. Etiam rhoncus. Maecenas tempus, tellus eget condimentum rhoncus, sem quam semper libero, sit amet adipiscing sem neque sed ipsum. Nam quam nunc, blandit vel, luctus pulvinar, hendrerit id, lorem. Maecenas nec odio et ante tincidunt tempus. Donec vitae sapien ut libero venenatis faucibus. Nullam quis ante. Etiam sit amet orci eget eros faucibus tincidunt. Duis leo. Sed fringilla mauris sit amet nibh. Donec sodales sagittis magna. Sed consequat, leo eget bibendum sodales, augue velit cursus

MRS. J

Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim. Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui. Etiam rhoncus. Maecenas tempus, tellus eget condimentum rhoncus, sem quam semper libero, sit amet adipiscing sem neque sed ipsum. Nam quam nunc, blandit vel, luctus pulvinar, hendrerit id, lorem. Maecenas nec odio et ante tincidunt tempus. Donec vitae sapien ut libero venenatis faucibus. Nullam quis ante. Etiam sit amet orci eget eros faucibus tincidunt. Duis leo. Sed fringilla mauris sit amet nibh. Donec sodales sagittis magna. Sed consequat, leo eget bibendum sodales, augue velit cursus