When I was an undergraduate, majoring in playwriting and directing, my final project
was to stage selected scenes from The Glass Menagerie. For the role of the Gentleman
Caller, played famously on film by Kirk Douglas, I made an unlikely but inspired casting
choice. A football player who had never been onstage before. I cast him in that part,
the high school hero with whom Laura is in love, for only one reason: this was the
best looking guy anybody who had ever seen him had ever seen. And he was fine. Learned
his lines. Didn’t disturb the furniture.
That was the last I saw of him until several years later when I was in line in a Chelsea
grocery and caught his image staring out at me from the cover of People Magazine.
Since college, he’d become one of the leading soap stars on daytime television.
A couple years after that, I’m in LA, at one of their many stoplights. I glance over
and who’s behind the wheel but the star of my directing project. He calls over to
me. I, to him. “Let’s have lunch,” he suggests, there at the light.
“Now,” he says. I pull over and park. Get in his car. We drive to the nearest restaurant
that comes to mind: The Good Earth in Westwood. We sit down and are catching up. He
tells me that from that directing project, he caught the acting bug; ended up onstage
when a casting director saw him and put him on the tube.
“Maybe,” I offered, “we’re part of the same karass.”
“It’s from ‘Cat’s Cradle’. Kurt Vonnegut. You know him, right?”
“Yeah, but I never read that book.”
“A karass,” I tell him, “is a set of people, joined by mysterious but significant
links. A granfalloon, on the other hand, is a meaningless group that...”
I stop because his face has gone pale, looks like he’s about to keel. “You okay?”
He motions with a sideways glance. And now I nearly tip....
Kurt Vonnegut has just seated himself at the next table.
The man was magic. This issue is dedicated to him.
This is the second issue in which we are presenting the work of six writers who graduated
this spring. It is evidence of the excellent writing being generated in our program.