Victoria playwright brings award-winning play 'Knock, Knock!' home

Camille Doty

Nov. 2, 2011 at 6:02 a.m.
Updated Nov. 3, 2011 at 6:03 a.m.

Whitney Zangarine (as Monica) and Sarah Smith (Debbie) perform in a dress rehearsal of "Knock, Knock!" with Theatre Victoria. Performances are Nov. 4-6 and Nov. 10-12 at the Welder Center.

Whitney Zangarine (as Monica) and Sarah Smith (Debbie) perform in a dress rehearsal of "Knock, Knock!" with Theatre Victoria. Performances are Nov. 4-6 and Nov. 10-12 at the Welder Center.

Patrick McLaughlin has always been intrigued by fictional stories.

His 10th-grade teacher, Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue, challenged and excited his imagination. The 39-year-old playwright said he finds more joy in creating characters than portraying them.

"I take on the responsibility of literally thinking and speaking for that person," he said.

It would take almost 15 years for the world to award this Victoria writer.

In 2008, he received the McLaren Memorial Comedy Playwriting Competition award for his comedy "Knock, Knock!"

The competition was established in 1989 in memory of Mike McLaren, a man who loved to laugh. There have been more than 1,700 submissions from 44 different states and 12 countries, according to the Midland Community Theatre's website.

On Friday, nine volunteer actors will take center stage for McLaughlin's South Texas premiere at Theatre Victoria. The award-winning comedy previously ran in Midland.

"Knock, Knock!" is about an eccentric character, Midge, who locks herself in the bathroom at a dinner party. Her ill-tempered husband Alan doesn't understand why, but he has enough insight to know he's the source of the problem. Their friends, Debbie and Phil, get sucked into her emotional tornado.

By the end of the play, a psychiatrist and emergency medical services get involved. In fact, anything that can go wrong does.

Director Karen Locher said the play is filled with misunderstandings because the people do not communicate.

She said this is her first time directing a play where she knew the writer personally.

During certain parts of the story, she said, "Oh my gosh, that is just so Patrick."

The two have worked together for many years on and off-stage.

Locher said it's an honor to be a part of a play written by a local talent.

Laura Saenz, who plays Midge, said she's enjoyed working with the cast the last few weeks.

"I like the chance to work with new people, we've built a new camaraderie," she said.

She said he's had a lot of fun playing this extreme character because she described herself as even-tempered.

Saenz has been acting with the theater since 1997, and at times she was a little too convincing. The Corpus Christi native said someone yelled at her in the grocery store because they thought she was a mean person.

McLaughlin said he has not been very involved with this particular production because he trusts Locher's abilities. Part of him is curious to see this director's interpretations.

McLaughlin, the Victoria College auditorium manager, almost closed the book on writing after receiving many rejection letters. In the past, critics didn't take too kindly to his style of humor, and some even told him to consider another line of work.

"I didn't get hurt because they're probably right," he said. "I don't let it get me too crazy." McLaughlin said he graciously accepted the rejections.

He turned a new page with the creation of the "Knock, Knock!" play. McLaughlin said he had a good feeling, so he entered the script in a competition. After six months of waiting, he struck gold and won the coveted award.

McLaughlin said he couldn't be happier to show his first fans the comedic play. In fact, he just wants them to have a good time.

"It's one of those plays where the audience has one job - to sit in the theater and laugh."



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