The first show I tried out for in high school was The Mouse That Roared and I actually scored a speaking part. I was forced by my father to drop out of the show so that I could instead try out for the baseball team. (It was too bad, too, because the woman whom I would one day marry was also cast in the show. I hadn't met her yet, and it would be another year before I did.) Eventually my father realized, much to his personal dismay and embarrassment, that I have absolutely no talent for sports but was actually pretty good at the theater thing. He finally came to the last show I did in high school, The Fantasticks, which got rave reviews and was actually extended to run another week because of demand from the community for tickets. He never actually gave me any praise for my performance, but grudgingly admitted that he enjoyed the show. (In all fairness, you have to be a real stone not to enjoy yourself at even a half-decent performance of The Fantasticks, and for a bunch of high school kids, our production was pretty great.)
But even though I won the school's drama scholarship, there was never any consideration by my family of my going off to college to major in anything other than pre-law. I could pick history, government or political science, but that was the extent of my choice. Which, looking back on things, was ridiculous since I received absolutely no financial assistance from my family whatsoever. The University of Virginia offered me a combination of scholarships and work-study, which is how I was able to get myself to college. It was a fallback after the US Naval Academy discovered that I suffered from Crohn's Disease at my pre-admission physical exam and declared that I was unfit for service. But it wasn't like my family could pull the rug out from under my education, so I think it was just the habit of submitting to their intimidation that kept me from majoring in whatever I wanted. At least at first.
I had been auditioning for shows with the Virginia Players and taking elective courses in the Drama Department since my first year at U.Va. At that time, their shows were performed in a tiny shoebox of a theater in a building named Minor Hall. I stood 6'5" tall and on that stage I was, quite literally, hitting my head on the stage lights. I was never cast in anything because I never looked quite right up there. But in 1974, thanks to a grant from Dr. David Culbreth in honor of his mother, Sarah, the Drama Department opened up its new state-of-the-art theater building. It had two theaters, a traditional proscenium stage (the Culbreth Theater) and a large experimental "black box" space (the Helms Theater) which had flexible seating that could accommodate anywhere from 160 to 200 people depending on how it was configured. The main stage was not quite ready when the building opened and it was decided that the first play in the building would be done in the Helms Theater and would be Of Mice And Men.