This is the Life

In the history of screen spanking, This is the Life is the title of a well-known but marginal 1944 comedy in which Donald O’Connor bends Susanna Foster over a ping-pong table and gives her a less than friendly 18th birthday spanking.

In the history of stage spanking, however, This is the Life is the title of a much more obscure work, which is paradoxically also much less marginal.

In the summer of 1952, the Teen Drama Guild of Indianapolis were preparing the annual musical to be staged at the city’s Odeon Hall in mid-August. The tradition started in 1949 when a group of theatrically-inclined teens got together and, in true American showbiz style, wrote and produced their own show. The 1952 offering was This is the Life, a comedy written by Jackie Richards, who had just graduated from high school.

Amateur, self-scripted shows rarely make much impression on theater history, because they are mayflies: planned, rehearsed and staged in a few short weeks, they matter to the kids who put them on, and to their community, but they go relatively undocumented, and survive as pleasant personal memories rather than matters of public record. And, crucially, the scripts tend not to survive.

But even with no script for This is the Life, we can piece together a little about the play, which is set in a college town in the Midwest. The story concerns the love-life of a song-writing professor and his student along with the student’s younger sister and the campus hero. It is the last of these, played by Ken Milam, who concerns us, along with his mischievous girlfriend, played by high school junior Beverly Weevie. Let’s meet her:

There are no details of exactly what happens between them, beyond the bare fact that she is his mischievous girlfriend, and so ripe for…

And in case you’re wondering, that’s a piece of wood about to come down hard across her rear end – Yeowwww!

Little more can be said about the play, or the production, but there is a postscript. The following year, Beverly Weevie’s high school class chose for its senior play none other than Men are Like Streetcars. But if men are like streetcars, always another one coming along, that’s not always true of stage spankings. This time Beverly’s luck was in: she was not cast in the leading role of Maudie, and so didn’t have to be spanked again!

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