Inside the Arc
“Bugles, Blasphemy and the Baptist Church”

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It’s a marvelous tale, spun out in classic Homeric fashion by a master story-teller. Before your very eyes, an entire neighborhood of colorful characters parades by in the saga of an inner-city kid with a disability who not only discovers his life’s true passion but a ticket to ride out of a dingy back alley all the way to a hot August night under the lights and the championship of the world. And the best part? It’s all true, every word of it.

“The May Day Parade”, the one-man show written and performed by Wayne Harris, is a stand alone one-of-a-kind not to be missed tour de force. It is simultaneously poignant, intense, hilarious and exhilarating, not unlike the man himself. This is no surprise. After all, it’s his own childhood experience, brought to life by an actor/singer/musician of immense ability.

Wayne Harris

Formidable technique aside, Wayne’s manner of delivery is totally captivating as he becomes in turn a little boy who limps, various family members, a tough-love neighborhood corps director, James Brown and an entire squad of boogie-down letter girls, among others. And the finale…well, we’re all seasoned drum corps folks who know a world-class push to the stands when we see one.

To be sure, Wayne Harris has already established solid theatrical credentials as writer and performer in several previous works. “Mother’s Milk” and “Train Stories” have had successful runs at the Marsh Theater and the San Francisco Fringe Festival, and he originated the lead role of King Saunders in the musical “Longshot” at the Luther Burbank Center.

His drum corps pedigree is equally first-rate: performer and instructor for the Anaheim Kingsmen, movement guru for the legendary Alberta Girls, performance coach for the WGI champion San Jose Raiders…it’s an impressive resume. But this current work raises the bar.

The “May Day Parade” will open at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival Sept. 4 through 14, then travel to the Marsh in San Francisco for consecutive Saturday and Sunday performances between Oct. 4 and Nov. 14.

If, as many suggest, the ‘60s and early ‘70s were the true Golden Age of Drum Corps, the activity flourishing in every village and hamlet, and the annual ritual of the pilgrimage to Nationals a kind of Tournament at Camelot, then this is not simply one person’s journey. Rather, in the words of the WGI anthem, it is “The Sum of Us”, our shared history, and Wayne Harris provides us with a first-person window into that wonderous time.

“…just the sight of them big butt girls in short skirts doing the “Dirty Dog” in the middle of Newstead Blvd. put the crowd into a frenzy. They were following the band down the street…ain’t seen nothing like it before or since!”
– “The May Day Parade”

There’s a parade coming. Don’t miss it. You’ll never forgive yourself.

(For more info: or call 415-826-5750)

About the Author:
Frank Dorritie is one of the legends of the activity .... a performer, instructor, arranger, adjudicator, and observer over the past 5 decades. Frank has been playing the bugle and trumpet since the 1960s, and has performed with artists like Billy Cobham and Maynard Ferguson. He has instructed and/or arranged for the Blue Devils, Cadets, Santa Clara Vanguard, Cavaliers, Chesterton and Tenri High Schools, the Bushwackers, Bridgemen and a host of others. His audio production honors include 9 Grammy Nominations, 2 Grammy Awards and membership in both the World Drum Corps and Buglers Halls of Fame. He is active internationally as a clinician and adjudicator, holds the DCA Soprano/Trumpet/Tenor Individual titles for 2003, 2005 and 2006. Frank also chairs the Department of Recording Arts at Los Medanos College. His popular brass method book, “Power and Endurance”, is available from The opinions expressed in this column are strictly those of the author.

Posted by on Sunday, August 24th, 2008. Filed under Inside the Arc.