Super Pal, Super Star: or, The Little Girl In "M" (part 1)

by:  Matt Chapuran at 04/03/2013

From Matt Chapuran, Institutional Giving Manager

At the Huntington Theatre Company, we're taking on a wild adaptation of "M," the old German Fritz Lang movie that launched Peter Lorre in the role of a child serial murderer. Although in the hands of its playwright, Ryan Landry (who once wrote a version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof titled Pussy on the House), it may look a lot different once it arrives at the other end.

The folks in our artistic department were having trouble finding a little girl to show up at the end of the play. That's when I ran into Ryan at our office. He called me a Queen and asked what was new. I was telling him about my new twin babies when he cut me off. "Wait a minute. How old is your oldest daughter."

Seven, I said.

"She should totally be in 'M.'"

The idea of Eva, our seven year old, appearing in a Ryan Landry play was beyond funny to me. But I promised Ryan I'd pass along his interest to her.

I did that very night but I resolved to undersell it to Eva. You'll have to audition. You may have a rotten audition. You may have a great audition and still not get cast. I won't be in there for the audition. I won't see the show more than once. And so on. And then, I figured, if she asked about it more than a couple days later, she was interested in she'd audition.

She was interested.

When I first laid out the whole project for her, she asked, "What's it about?"

"Well," I said. "I haven't read the script so I really don't know. But I think it's about a guy who kills kids."

"Well, that sounds interesting," she said. "Who would I be?"

"You'd,'d be a kid."

"He'd kill me?"

"Again, I haven't read the script so I really don't know but, um...yeah."

"Then I'd just go....uggghhh." You'll have to imagine a comically drawn out death face.

  Eva Jean Chapuran

The night before the audition, she was so excited. She made up what she called her 'Huntington "M" packet.' It contained what can only be referred to as a self-evaluation. It was a page with five columns, each of which had five boxes, four small and one big. She explained that if she got a check mark in each box, then she could draw in a smiley face in the big box.

The columns had categories like, 'Was I pulite?' and 'Did I mind my own bisness?' Categories by which we should all measure ourselves.

The day of the audition, I brought her in. I gave her only two pieces of advice. One was, Shake hands with as many people as possible. The other was, They're going to be looking for someone to be scared, not someone to be happy.

"But I've never been scared," she said.

I asked her what's the scariest movie she knew.

Raiders of the Lost Ark.

And what's the scariest part?

When their faces melt.

So, just think about that.

The audition was in a Huntington conference room. There were four women at one side of this table and Eva at the other, her hands folded like she was addressing her board of directors. I made introductions and then left . . .

To Be Continued!


  1. I'm not easily imesrespd but you've done it with that posting.
  2. I disagree with the dfiniiteon of laziness as being a medical disability like retardation. PAL does not give you the dfiniiteon of laziness PAL doesn't accuse people of being lazy the program only helps people who are self-admitted suffering with laziness. Can the behavior modification help that comes from self-help groups be considered harmful? There are many groups (like church and many volunteer groups) that try to inspire people to try to change their behavior but they are not professional. So PAL is not a new or novel idea so how do you think it would end up causing harm? Its like you are saying that parents would be wrong to try to correct their child. I have a mental illness so, speaking for myself I would say that if a person has an untreated mental illness and they walk into a volunteer self-help group (like a church or any type of grouping of people who are trying to encourage one another to change their own behavior) then most likely that person will fail in their efforts with the group but they are going to fail in society no matter what group they enter into with the result taht they will end up in the system or be arrested or hospitalized. So the mentally ill person's failure is not the fault of the group that they choose to associate themselves with.I think that what people generally miss about PAL is that the basic idea is that self-identification is the way that new clients enter the PAL system there is no sense in which PAL is accusing people of being lazy unless they themselves self-identify as lazy. [url=]ggnceac[/url] [link=]ccynmb[/link]
  3. There is certainly such a thing as oandirry laziness, even if sometimes that negative word is not used. Surely children are rightly scolded (gently) when they don't do their homework, and an employer rightly does the same thing for an adult who is doing what is easy, not what is needed. Adults and children get into the habit of laziness (it is not just a one time thing), even if you don't like the name. Adults fight this kind of laziness by positive thinking, forming new habits, attitudes such as just do it', exercise, etc (along with moral and religious thinking, although some don't believe in this). I think that having a friend or even a non-professional coach such as PAL to help encourage you could also be helpful. The problem is when there really is mental illness involved. Even prolonged laziness, or accusations of laziness, combined with bad thinking might trigger major psychological problems, I think; just as trauma can do. Having a professional to guide one in this case is, I would think, very important. Just speculating: perhaps a professional might suggest that they monitor you closely while you also get non-professional help from others, even PAL. The advantage of PAL is that someone would work with you more closely than a professional has time to do, not psychoanalyzing you, just encouraging you to make progress. Unfortunately, PAL seems impractical because of the difficulty of getting professionals involved, and for other reasons.

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