By David Godsey
Short answer: It was the movie “The Paper Chase.”
Longer answer … It was the week of Thanksgiving 1989 when I found myself on a ferry boat, in a small car that carried my few possessions, crossing the Puget Sound to an Island called Vashon. I was coming to this Island because, in a turn of rather haphazard wisdom, the company of misfit performers I was part of had decided to move here to begin our time as an “Ensemble“ called UMO. It was going to be a two-year experiment … that was 33 years ago.
But before I first crossed over on that ferry to this Island, a place I had never seen and barely heard about, I had been living in New Mexico. So my first damp/cold/grey winter here was, well, a shock and a challenging adjustment.
Before New Mexico, I had been out east with said misfit performers, working on our first nascent projects. And before that, I had lived in Boulder, where I had been developing my clowning, serving as a guest teacher in theatre at Naropa Institute, and moonlighting as a model for art classes.
Before Boulder, I was in Paris for nearly three years. I ended up in Paris after I fell in love with a cute dancer/clown who moved there, so I followed her.
To make my move to Paris, I had ditched my budding “acting career” in New York City, where I had found an agent after completing two years of rigorous training at Circle In the Square Theatre. Just before moving to NYC, I had worked in dinner theatre in Oklahoma (that’s a whole other story), which had been preceded by two years of performing professionally with a mime troupe in Indianapolis.
I had gotten the job as a mime performer because I had studied mask work as part of my theatre training at Earlham College. And I had decided to dive into theatre studies instead of pre-law because one night on campus I saw the movie “The Paper Chase” twice in a row. That movie completely and decisively trashed my plan to go to law school and eventually become a senator from Massachusetts.
So, now that I’ve traced it back, if I am completely honest, I guess I arrived on Vashon because of the movie “The Paper Chase.”