"When I was little, my neighbors and I would do little shows. My mom would write the scripts," Gonzales, a Kansas University junior studying film, said. "We would sell tickets for 25 cents, but would give a coupon for 5 cents off."
Today, Gonzales is writing the scripts and watching others act them out on-stage. His one-act "Running With the Big Dogs" is on a double bill being staged by English Alternative Theatre and Card Table Theatre next weekend.
Gonzales, who hails from Kansas City, Kan., said the play is about a couple of buddies, Jim and Mike (Ryan Butts and Jason Blazer, respectively) in their mid-20s. Their friends Felicia and Skip (Kate Maher and Nathan Cadman, respectively) are at the buddies' apartment when an argument breaks out. The noise awakens Miss Metske (Christina Shafer), a cantankerous old woman with a Doberman pinscher.
Miss Metske dies during the melee and the foursome are stuck with deciding what they should do with the body.
"It's a dark comedy, and it's slapstick," he said.
"Running With the Big Dogs" is paired with another one-act with a plot that also involves death.
KU graduate student Kirby Fields' "Mourning Glorie" centers on a man who attends funerals of people he doesn't know to offer emotional support to mourners.
"The (main character) has found he's good at compassion," Fields said in a recent interview. "If it's a play about death, then its emphasis is on those who remain behind and console those who are still here."
At a time of loss, Fields said, storytelling plays an important role.
"I think the arts are often narrative, and drama and fiction are by necessity narrative," he said. "Through the telling of stories, we can keep the people (who died) alive."
Gonzales and Fields wrote their plays during playwriting classes taught last year by KU English professor Paul Lim. The plays are EAT's entries in this year's Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival.
Jeremy Auman directs both plays, while Kaye Miller is scenic designer.
-- Features-arts editor Jan Biles can be reached at 832-7146.