Saturday, December 1, 2007

Grey Poupon man weaves tale

I am absolutely, no-holds-barred, flat-out delighted to see this dramatic narrative brought to the printed page. Home-Front Passage: A Southern Sojourn with Monologues (Academy Press, 2007 - ISBN: 978-0615157160) is a first-class piece of highly entertaining autobiographical drama by none other than our own Donegan Smith of Hickory, NC, and recently retired from teaching at Lenoir-Rhyne College.

I first saw this work represented on stage in a one-act play by the author himself, Donegan Smith, a highly-educated and articulate William and Mary grad and a consummate stage actor as well as retired Hollywood actor. Many will remember him as the mustard guy in the Grey Poupon commercials -- the guy in the Rolls Royce wearing the tux. In that connection, he might have simply titled the book, after his own reply to the query "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" in the commercial: "But of course!"

I saw "Home-Front Passage" enacted in the Belk Centrum stage on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina, some ten years ago when the author was teaching acting and drama there and I was a colleague in the philosophy department. Home-Front Passage is a riveting, at times gut-wrenching, drama about a southern boy's right of passage -- a boy caught in the middle of his parents' strained and confusing marriage. From the opening account of his presumed stillbirth on a cold April morning in a tiny four-room house about thirty miles from Raleigh, when his father saw his belly button move and yelled "He's alive, by Christ, my boy's alive!" and had him covered with lard and incubated in the kitchen oven "to save my pre-mature ass" -- to his teenage plea with his father to divorce his mother to save their family, you'll howl with laugher. You'll weep. You'll scream. Get this book! It's a keeper. It's just in time for Christmas. And, if at all possible, see it performed if you get the chance.

Donegan Smith is now retired from professional acting and lives in his home state of North Carolina. He is also retired from college teaching at Lenoir-Rhyne College and from being a drama director. He lives with his wife, Toni -- his favorite actress -- in Hickory, North Carolina, where he continues to teach acting privately.


ELF said...

Is this the one I think it is?? ELF

Pertinacious Papist said...

If you mean the Grey Poupon man from the commercials of the 80s and 90s, yes.