Ex-teacher shares journey to Hollywood where it beganGrowing up poor in Ashland, easy success was handed to Don Scribner after college.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Growing up poor in Ashland, easy success was handed to Don Scribner after college.
“All that was thrown in my lap,” Scribner said of his 14-year career as a teacher. “I never even applied for a teaching job.
“It’s shocking to me that I was a teacher.”
But the former Superior teacher and principal at the former Patzau Elementary School had a dream, one that would take him from the shore of Lake Superior to the coastline of the Pacific Ocean.
Once “a big fish in a small pond” Scribner admits that’s not the case anymore, but he is coming home to tell his story of pursuing dreams.
People in Los Angeles may be familiar with his work, but Scribner said people there don’t know him like they do here, even after 26 years on the West Coast.
Scribner graduated from University of Wisconsin-Superior with a major in elementary education and minor in speech and drama.
Today, he’s an actor, singer, screenplay and song writer in Hollywood, and he’s bringing his story home this week.
He performs his one-man play “Two Rooms in the Valley” at Stagenorth in Washburn on Friday and Saturday night.
The show premiered at Actor’s Forum Theater in September 2006. It was made into a film in 2008, and featured during the Big Water Film Festival in Washburn last fall.
“It’s a perception of happiness and if we’re blessed with love, friendship, family, you have everything there is,” Scribner said. “So the essence of living in two rooms is all – you don’t need any more.”
The play received critical acclaim when it opened.
“What makes Don Scribner’s biographical sojourn rewarding are the small, tantalizing moments sprinkled throughout his narrative, occasionally punctuated by the thesp’s simple country-tinged musical offerings,” Julio Martinez wrote at www.variety.com, posted Sept. 12, 2006.
The “Variety” reviewer wrote there was nothing “dramatically compelling” about a middle-aged man leaving his career as a teacher in Wisconsin to become an actor in Hollywood, but he found Scribner’s persona a perfect setup for the “improbable tale.”
Scribner, who performed lead roles regularly at the Duluth Playhouse, said it’s not as easy to land leading roles in Hollywood.
“It’s not glamorous,” said Scribner, who has acted on stage and in film including supporting roles – as a henchman in “The Cooler,” starring Oscar-nominated Alec Baldwin and William H. Macy in 2003 and a small part as a bartender in the 2009 film “Crossing Over” starring Harrison Ford and Ashley Judd.
In 1984, Scribner packed in his career in education and easy success in Superior to head to California to pursue a career as a performer. Now he’s bringing some Hollywood stardust home.
“It’s tying up the show, taking it home to its roots,” Scribner said of his scheduled performances.
He said Superior and Ashland, and the people he met in Superior as an adult, all influenced who he is today and are characters that are part of the performance.
“Scribner reveals his journey to an acting career in slivers of recollections buried within narratives of his family, permanently buried under the poverty line,” Martinez wrote. “Beginning with a Catholic school teacher’s insistence that 8-year-old Donny get up in front of the class and tell the story he was secretly whispering to a classmate, Scribner convincingly conveys the sense of wonder and magic that occurs within him when he’s performing. He seems to take special pride in his star turn in the 1987 low-budget “Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity.”
The Ashland native admits coming home to perform a story near and dear to his heart elicits a little fear.
“I’m bringing it home and I hope it works here,” Scribner said.