Excerpt: "Dale felt his own creative talents were being wasted."
Dale King was born January 27, 1990, to Gladys and Cyrus King in San Diego, California. Cyrus King was a career Navy man who had spent his childhood in Oxford, Mississippi, where his parents still reside. While stationed in San Diego, Cyrus moved his family to be with him and established a permanent home.
Dale was the youngest of four children, with an older brother and two sisters. He was comfortable being the baby of the family, but sometimes it a bit smothering to have three older siblings watching over him as well as a mother and father.
Cyrus King loved to garden and grew enough produce year-round to provide his family with more than enough squash, eggplant, lettuce, tomatoes, pole beans and other vegetables to feed them as well as their friends and neighbors.
His gardens were so prolific that they kept Mrs. King busy finding creative and appetizing ways to use the produce so it wouldn't go to waste. Fortunately, she enjoyed the challenge and the cooking, and she passed this love to Dale. Both of these interests would serve Dale well when he went on to college and needed extra income.
When Dale was in the fifth grade, he participated in the San Diego City Schools' week-long program in Balboa Park with students from all over the city. Specially trained teacher's aides took small groups around the park, acquainting them with flora and fauna, architecture, the museums, and the Globe Theatre.
When Dale discovered the Globe Theatre, he was hooked. He became so entranced with the performing arts that he auditioned for a Junior Theatre production of "Babes in Arms" and was surprised to get a part in the chorus. He immediately applied to the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. Luckily his school was a "feeder" to SCPA, so he was able to enter without being on the long waiting list.
Dale's family was delighted with his acceptance to the school. His brother, sisters, and parents were proud of his accomplishments and encouraged his participation in the many school productions.
When it came time to apply to college, Dale decided on the University of Mississippi. He figured it would give him a chance to attend college far from home and family while he benefited from an excellent theatre arts curriculum. Plus, with his grandparents living nearby, his family wouldn't be as concerned that he was so far away.
While at Ole Miss, Dale found part-time work at the Garden Center, and when he found a house with a yard, he planted a vegetable garden. He supplied his friends with produce and invited them to his house for dinner when he'd cook things from his garden, and the guests would bring other dishes.
He especially liked the challenge of cultivating things not easily grown in Mississippi. At Your Service Catering was impressed by his cooking skills and hired him on many occasions when he wasn't working at the theatre or the Garden Center.
Even with his participation in many social situations, Dale had a reputation as a loner. His friends knew he would silently seethe when angry or annoyed. Instead of confrontation, he was more apt to pout or become moody, quiet, and distant. His friends and acquaintances often kept their distance when they sensed he was angry, which did nothing to restore his good nature and only intensified his lone wolf reputation.
Dale earned a BFA in theatre arts at Ole Miss and continued for his MFA in stage management. There he met Andrea Stover and became interested in the Oxtales Theatrical Group through her participation in the group. He became increasingly drawn to the staging of productions rather than performing in them, so when Oxtales had an opening for an assistant director, he applied for and got the job.
At first, he enjoyed the work, but as time went on and Andrea's productions became more explicit, he found he preferred less controversial plays. He discussed his concerns with Owen Norris, Oxtales' main backer, but found Owen was so devoted to Andrea's work that he wouldn't authorize a change in the direction of the theatrical group unless she was on board.
Before Andrea's arrest, Dale's job was to take care of the details and make her vision happen. His responsibilities included getting permits and insurance to stage public performances, dealing with the press, kowtowing to patrons and assuring them that their funds were being put to good use despite the controversy. Dale felt his own creative talents were being wasted.
When Andrea was jailed for her direction of "Snopes," Owen offered the directorship of Oxtales to Dale, who accepted it eagerly. During Andrea's eighteen-month absence, Dale redirected the focus of the group and staged a production, "Black Boy in the Closet," that brought critical success rather than just notoriety. Although Dale hoped he would retain his position when Andrea got out of jail, Owen once again offered the job to Andrea, and Dale was back to his job of assistant director.
When Dale was arrested for his involvement with the "Snopes" production, he accepted the plea bargain the prosecutor offered and escaped with a fine of $1,000 and 100 hours of community service. His service was to help needy families establish community gardens and teach them to grow, harvest and use the crops to supplement their incomes. The hours spent on community service negatively affected his income because he couldn't spend as much time at his jobs outside Oxtales, but Dale knew it was better than prison.