Randy was known for exaggerating. From an early age, he had trouble
distinguishing truth from fiction. And that was true. It might seem like he was
lying when he tickled his great-grandmother by telling her and his Oklahoma
cousins that he had a lawnmower at home in Texas that could cut down a tree,
but he could tell a “whopper” and believe it.
Everything about him, however, wasn’t exaggeration. He may not have owned
the real Lassie like he told a friend; but when he told someone something like
that, he was hardly aware of it. And such things waited inside him, until out of
boredom, he started writing dialogue in high school. Since he couldn’t read very
well, he chose writing plays over other literary forms because plays had fewer
words. In back to back study halls his senior year, he had his first audience. A
teacher caught him one day distributing copies of his dialogues and confiscated
them, admitting that she didn’t know what to do with them. To her credit, she
sent Randy to the Dallas Theater Center, where as a high school student, he
attended an adult playwriting class. The teacher of that class was Eugene
McKinney, who became a life-long friend and mentor of the playwright.
Randy started out in the theater by first studying drama under Dr. Paul Baker at
Baylor University and at Trinity University, after Baylor made national news by
closing Long Days Journey into Night and its drama department resigned en
masse. If Randy had not made that fateful move from Baylor to Trinity with the
drama department, he wouldn’t have met his wife Peggy and have one son by
While still at Trinity, Randy first had one of his plays produced professionally at
the Dallas Theater Center. Henry Hewes, then a widely know drama critic of the
Saturday Review of Literature, called the play “most impressive” and wrote “it
quite successfully catches the drag racing, girl-chasing flavor of two hotrodders
who emulate and idolize the late James Dean.” Randy went on to have two
other plays and a reading of another one performed at Dallas Theater Center.
One of the playwright’s greatest honors was to have one of those plays, R.U.
Hungry (Specialty, Short Orders), directed by Dr. Baker, the managing director of
Click here to see a slide show of clippings related to Randy's early successes
in the theater.
Randy never attempted to stay in the theater and, as a playwright, feels that was
a wise choice. After studying and working at Dallas Theater Center for only two
years, he and his wife chose to join the Peace Corps. In the Philippines--apart
from being extremely busy teaching drama and working in the theater--he got
this ridiculous notion that he could somehow bring about world peace by
crossing borders and used the idea as an excuse for becoming an adventurer.
Ironically, one of the few books Randy read in high school was “I Married
Adventure,” and that was what Peggy unwittingly signed on for when she
married the playwright. She has since said that instead of an adventurer she
thought she was marrying a playwright who would someday be rich and
famous. We’re still waiting for that to happen.
On Bongao, an island situated near the tip of the Sulu Archipelago, Randy and
his wife met a British world traveler who fueled the playwright’s imagination with
a description of his trek across Borneo. Peggy soon found herself somewhat
reluctantly tagging along on a trip that would last for three years and take the
couple the rest of the way around the world.
They flew to Singapore and bought bicycles in Malacca, Malaysia, riding them up
both coasts of Malaysia and on north to Bangkok. Somewhere along the way,
they acquired a companion, a white handed gibbon that rode on Peggy's hip
while she peddled as hard as she could to keep up with Randy. One, hard day
they got lost looking for the Bridge Over the River Kwai and, before turning
around, almost ended up in hostile Burma. They taught English in Bangkok and
because of Immigration nine times crossed over into Laos. This was during the
Vietnam War and crossing the Mekong then was not done without some
From Bangkok and back through Malaysia, and, before such touring became
popular, the couple rode their bicycles through Sumatra, Java, and Bali, pushing
and trudging through jungles. Depending on the locals, they never knew at the
end of the day where they might land. From Indonesia, they lived and traveled in
India and crossed Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and on into Europe by
Landrover. They walked over the Alps into Austria, carrying their suitcases and
gibbon, and landed flat broke in Vienna, where they lived and recuperated for a
number of months.
From distant lands to the United States, Randy never gave up bicycle touring
until after in 1976 when he, Peggy and their three-year-old son moved from
Maine to Arizona by bicycle; and Randy soon after led a bicycle trip from Phoenix
to Washington D.C. with a group of disabled people. By then, necessity had led
him into the field of social work (in preference to eviscerating turkeys), and he
became a social activist. As such, his accomplishments have made a
Now Randy has come full circle. In March of 2005, he retired from Child
Protective Services in Arizona, a state agency for which he served as an
investigator for sixteen years. Since then, he has continued his career as a
playwright and has also written several short stories. Randy currently lives in
Tucson, Arizona, with his wife Peggy and nine animals. He enjoys spending
time with his grandchildren. He has also written an opera, three unpublished
novels, and a short travel piece about Muko Muko.
The playwright is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc, The
Authors League of America and The Society of Southwestern Authors.Click here
to see a slide show of clippings related to Randy's early successes in the
|Copyright 2006 Randy Ford