Acting Like Adults

The Adventures of Leigh Hooks in Children's Theatre

Wakpala Continued

With all the challenges and issues that plagued our time in Wakpala some really amazing things happened:

The importance of laughter: Working with kids has taught me so much about how to laugh. Kids are constantly laughing and giggling over small things or nothing at all. Laughing just to laugh. One of my favorites examples was in Rosholt. Two of my green pirates, Kadie and Shelby, spent at least 20 min. naming vegetables and laughing hysterically.

“Shelby…Shelby! Carrot! Hahahaha”

Wrought with laughter, the two could only be reduced to little puddles.

In Wakpala, the kids laughed mostly at each other and pain. However, I did find the universal vessel of farting. One of our students, Mya, was constantly getting into trouble (or the “T-Word” as Jac says) and taking our attention away from the group. Before our show, we were all getting into costume and she was lying on the floor, as dramatically as possible in the death throws of a Victorian melodrama.

“What’s up dude?”

“I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I hate this.”

I lightly put the toe of my shoe on her stomach and made fart noises as I pressed down. Poor Mya was back in the land of the living with a big smile.

pfffff, phrfffff, pbbbbbbrrrrp, erp?

“Hahaha you’re weird hahaha” She’s missing her left front tooth.

Living in an environment of constant laughter is only infectious. Being able to be in a state where laughter is always possible is a gift. It makes the days and horrid moments so much easier to deal with. With the kids, it even makes problems disappear thru the simple means of a joke or a look or playing dumb. It even work with the parents:

White Lake:
“How is Tyler doing?”

“He’s great. Attentive. Loves hoagies.”

“Hahahaha sure does.”

That’s just the truth. The kid was hoagie love sick.

Over lunch:
“Hey Tyler having a hoagie for lunch again?”

“Yeah. I love hoagies. My dad makes them for me every morning. It has two cheeses and three kinds of meat. Mayo and spice.”

“Would you say that this is the one hoagie to find them. the one hoagie to bind them in the darkness?”

“Yeah. It’s pretty filling.”

I nearly peed I was laughing so hard. Tyler is 11 and was our Assistant Director for our Residency in White Lake, SD.

In my life off the road, I have tried to find as much laughter as possible. When I left Dell’Arte, I had little humor or laughter left. As if it was drained from me like blood letting. Nothing was funny or funny enough to laugh at (a bi-product of my training). The kids have taught me how to laugh again. How to bring light and joy to not only my life but those around me very easily. It’s funny how light something can be when you’ve felt so heavy for too long. Hahahahaha

Also, Jac and I did a phone interview in Wakpala to promote the show on the local tribal radio. After which, I learned of a whole news network: National Native News (current native news and issues like: Crazy Horse, The UN Human Rights Committee). South Dakota is also home to the Lakota Nation which is, unfortunately, famed for The Pine Ridge Reservation (the economically poorest patch in the entirety of these United States). Pine Ridge is not someplace you vacation. I’ll post a few links at the bottom here but also in the links menu:

National Native News Homepage: Headline Archive for current native issues

NNN Internet Radio and News:

Pine Ridge (Graphic Content):

Lakota Times:


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3 thoughts on “Wakpala Continued

  1. Nice job, sir. Truth in comedy and all that stuff. I stumbled on this quote by Alan Rickman that I quite like. I’m gonna paraphrase it because I don’t feel like finding it again, ha. But it said “I take my acting seriously, by not taking myself too seriously.” And your post reminded me of that. Ya know, it is a funny business you are in (and me in a certain way) we need to balance being serious people with not being too serious. Strange. Anyway, I enjoyed your post. keep ’em coming. I also like the image of you putting your foot on the stomach and making farting noises. I laughed. Ha. Anyway, there are some thoughts. Cheers.

  2. Susan Q on said:

    Well done. Being able to find the laughter in the midst of hard situations is a gift, and I’m glad you’ve found it. I think if we took ourselves less seriously, we’d all spend more time laughing.

  3. Speaking of truth in comedy. Check out:

    Truth in Comedy by: Del Close and Charna Helpern (Improv. Gods!)

    It really is about finding the epic balance of taking something seriously but also being able to laugh at it or with it. As performers, we all look for the moments when we live and die on stage. The connection of the body and spirit expanding and imploding all at the same time. When we reach our goals in the moment and thus our life, in that moment, is over. but not in vain. The experience is shared and continued in memory and thought.

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