Fred Adams founded the Utah Shakespeare Festival which is held annually in Cedar City on the campus of Southern Utah University. In 1962 while rehearsing Hamlet for the Festival’s first season, Mr. Adams and the cast had a charming but baffling experience which is not resolved to this day. We are hoping that you, our listeners, can help us answer a question about that summer.
"But I’ll never forget our first season. Our first plays were Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet. And we rehearsed Taming of the Shrew every morning, and we rehearsed Merchant in the afternoon, and then we rehearsed Hamlet at night, because Hamlet need a larger cast than the other two, and so we pulled in the city post master, and a couple of clerks from JCPenny’s and that sort of thing.
We had people that had to work during the day, but really wanted to work with us at night. We set up our platform on a patio and we began rehearsing with just folding chairs and some risers as an audience.
I noticed almost the second or third rehearsal we had, we had three little boys, I would say ages maybe ten to thirteen, straddling their bikes, sitting there on the sidelines, watching the rehearsal going on, watching us with books in our hands, watching as we blocked, as we memorized. Night after night, we tried to get acquainted with them, but they didn’t want to talk to us. We were those strange actors. But they never missed.
You could set your clock, at 10 minutes to seven, those boys would wheel in, and sit straddling their bikes. And sit there until it was over, and then they would pedal off in the dark. I was saddened as was most of the company when we finally added the final touches, costumes and most important an audience. When an audience was there the seats were all filled and there was the excitement of the trumpets summoning the audience to the theatre, and I looked and there were no boys. The little boys were not there and I was kind of heart sick about that.
Years went by, many many years went by, and I was telling the story of the boys on their bikes at a women’s club in a little community called Richfield, Utah. I finished telling the story, and how much we regretted that those boys never really saw Hamlet, really saw Hamlet the finished product with an audience, which is the most important of all ingredients to the theatre. One of the ladies came up to me afterwards, and she said Oh, Mr. Adams I don’t think you even know the end of your story, she said those three boys are my nephews. I said, really? She said, yes, those boys lived in a little community called Kanarraville.
Kanarraville is almost twelve miles outside of Cedar City. You wouldn’t call it a suburb, it was another community. Those boys had permission from their dads to do their chores early, get on their bikes and ride in and watch the rehearsal and come home afterwards.
She said, you know you don’t need to feel any regret, they never missed a performance. She said every night they were scouting the trees that surround the stage, scouting where they could go early enough in the afternoon to smuggle into a tree and not be seen and still watch the play. She said but more important than that, two of my nephews are married now with children, and one of them is in the service, and she said to this day my three nephews can recite word for word the entire play of Hamlet."
Mr. Adams is now 83 years old and believes the 3 little boys would be in their early 60’s. He would like to meet them and so would we! Can you help us? Are you familiar with any aspect of this story?
If so, please contact our producer Shalayne at 435 797 0320. You can also comment online at UPR.org by finding us on Facebook. We are gathering clues to find these men and we want to hear their story. Most importantly we want to introduce them to Mr. Adams.
Should we succeed in discovering the identities of the 3 Little Boys on Bikes we will bring that story to you. Hopefully someone in that group will be inspired to recite a passage from Hamlet. This could be fun. That number again is 435 797 0320 or email Shalayne.