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Many people know the legend of Ron Vawter’s inadvertent entry into theatre via the US Army. However, few scholars realize that he began acting in high school, or that he was a performer long before he arrived in Manhattan in 1972. This essay explores Vawter’s early encounters with The Performance Group (TPG). When a mysterious army figure began showing up several times a week at TPG’s The Tooth of Crime (1973), company members failed to grasp that Vawter wanted to join them as an actor; instead, they viewed him as a nonperformer and eventually hired him as an administrator. Vawter’s military demeanor and ensuing job as TPG’s business manager became the foundations of his onstage persona in the group’s production of Mother Courage (1974–76); phrased another way, Vawter became a character by virtue of who he already seemed to be. The essay examines the influence of Vawter’s ostensibly self-based performance persona on the group’s incipient self-referential and presentational aesthetics.