The seniors in our theatre troupe decided to produce a special video for Frankenstein. Not only was it a farewell project for the drama students, it was a farewell to Mrs. Caruthers, who had been one of our favorite teachers over the past four years.
For the first part of the tape, we did interviews with the cast and crew about their favorite memories of Mrs. Caruthers. We then added in footage from rehearsal, along with scenes from the movie Young Frankenstein.
Dylan, Zach Heckler and I were the three people who did “commentary” for the tape. The three of us sat down in the front row of the Columbine auditorium and set the camera down on the stage. Our job was to review all of the people in the Frankenstein program and offer both compliments and “inside jokes” that only those involved in the department would understand. Later we would inter-cut the footage with scenes from Young Frankenstein and show the finished version to other people in the drama club.
It was a lot of fun to make, and the camera caught a few moments of Dylan coming out of his quiet shell. We went backwards through the program, reading each name and offering a few observations. The first name Zach read off was Principal DeAngelis.
Dylan leaned in toward the camera. “Ha ha ha,” he said.
The three of us roasted each other as much as we could. Dylan, who had sat quietly through some of the early jokes, happily came out of his shell for ribbing on me.
Dylan gave special mention to the makeup crew. “Damn good job,“ he said. “Brooks, you were ugly as shit. And that’s hard to beat, with the way you look normally.”
“I was uglier than I even am usually.” I agreed.
“Don’t get fire within twenty feet of the pants,” Dylan warned, referring to my ‘Frankenstein monster” costume. “There were about thirty different chemicals put into that.” (This was true, actually. Dylan and I made the pants using an old pair of jeans that we soaked in gasoline and paint thinner to make them look as horrible as possible. After the final performance, we took them out to a field and flicked a cigarette at them. They immediately burst into flames.)
“Zach, how did this guy do on sound?” I asked, referring to Dylan.
“Oh, he sucked,” Zach replied.
Dylan threw his hands up. “Thank you!”
“And everybody was crying about it, because it was late,” Zach added. Dylan hadn’t finished preparing the sound cues by Mrs. C’s original deadline.
“Yeah, yeah,” Dylan said. “I’d like to bring forth attention to this, actually – for three years now, I’ve been doing this job. Just a guess here, but I think I know what I’m doing—“
“Okay, shut up,” I said. We all laughed.
That was how the video went. We picked out names, made a few good-natured jokes, then complimented the person and moved on. We had especially kind words for Mrs. Caruthers, whom all three of us were going to miss.
“You’re losing your entire sound and light crew,” I said to the camera. “This will be the last play we get to do with you.”
The three of us asked for bribes in exchange for passing along our knowledge to the next crop of students. “Hey, Mrs. C, next Saturday – big ol’ party,” Dylan said. “Heineken, Miller… We need you.” It was a running joke for theatre students to try and get Mrs. Caruthers to buy booze for us, because we knew she never would.
We offered our thanks to Mrs. Caruthers for her inspiration. “From the people who have been working with you the longest, we want to say, very beautiful job with all the plays,” I said.
“Very well done,” Dylan added. “All of these kids over the years – I don’t know how, but … you put the whole thing together.”
“You’ve taught us how to work on our own,” I said. “We really did this play on our own, and it was fantastic. And we owe it to you, Mrs. C.”
After the final performance that night, everyone from the show watched the video. My mom took pictures. There was Dylan, laughing and having a good time. Just like everyone else.
—Brooks Brown, No Easy Answers, Chapter 9, Suburban Life