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Friday, May 12, 2017

Old Theater Stories...

Okay-- so this FB post is hilarious and if you're on FB, by all means click the link and read for DAYS.


I tried to post my own theater story at the end of it, because I did theater from 6th grade until my sophomore year in college.  I LOVED theater, but I wasn't that cute, and I was working 40 hours a week--once I moved to San Francisco, being part of theater wasn't in the cards.

But that doesn't mean I don't have a few that I regale my kids with sometimes.

So I thought I'd share with you--


Old theater story 1--

My freshmen year in high school, we were doing a production of Trifles, by Susan Glaspell, and there's a part in the production where the two actresses on the stage find a bird with a wrung neck in a small box of quilting notions. The part is pivotal to the play because it's proof that the farmwife who's "trifles" they're going through has actually committed the murder that happened in the house.

So it was probably ill advised for our stage manager to put a dead mouse she'd found in the prop room in the box instead of the bird on dress rehearsal night.

Of course everybody in the production knew--(I was the assistant director) -- and we were all cracking up while our director--a volunteer pretty much who put a lot of effort and authority defying into us having a production at this school anyway.

She was FURIOUS. I mean, I've never seen steam come out of a person's ears before.

And her biggest fear was that this was that the two girls on stage would crack up during performance, but nope-- the girls pretty much held it together all three nights. The only bad moment was when they were both peering into the box and one of them was supposed to say, "It's neck--somebody wrung it's neck!"

The girl said, "It's neck! Somebody snapped it's neck!"

And that was payback, because the entire stage crew had to hold it together while the actresses themselves went serenely on with the play.

Theater Story Number 2--

One of my years in Junior College, we were doing Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.  It's a musical, and if you haven't seen it, LittleChap, the lead, spends a lot of his time talking to a chorus. The chorus is all purpose--we were other people, vehicles, machinery--it's really a fun production.

But on the third night of a four night show, LittleChap got a little bored with being LittleChap (he was in his forties, and he was a great singer, but junior college theater was a little below his pay grade.) He decided to drink before the performance--a LOT--and he had trouble with a fifteen page monologue--ten pages of which was given to the chorus before our cue line, which sent us off stage while he finished up.

So on this night, like I said, he was sauced. Totally. And he rambled back and forth, and we the chorus tried to help him out by asking questions to get him back on track. And for a little while it worked-- we'd give him leader lines and he'd remember what he was supposed to be saying. And then, oh my God, he did the dumb, and said our cue line.

Five pages early.

We all looked at each other in horror--and left the stage.

Because there was no other line we had to leave on, and we needed to be off before the next character came on.

And he was left, drunk and alone to meander under the spotlight and I don't even remember how bad it got because most of us had our eyes closed and our hands over our ears by then.

Theater Story Number 3--

And I'll end on this one even though I have lots of them, but this one is sort of important.

I crushed on theater guys all the time, and especially in the late eighties in a small town where there wasn't a lot of room for self-expression, the gay kids tended to gravitate toward theater.

I was dumb-- it took me a while to figure out why none of the objects of my affection could reciprocate, but by the same token, I was also hard pressed to figure out why being gay was supposed to be bad. I mean, okay. The guys kissed guys. So, chasing after them made me look stupid, but they always seemed to be nice to ME so what was the big deal?

But still... there was all the stuff people said...

Anyway-- I was working the light board with a kid I'd crushed on hard in high school (this was junior college) and we were doing Working. Lots of cues. Anyway-- this kid was a couple years older than I was, and he'd come out, and he was sophisticated and smelled really good, and omg how was I supposed to be because everybody said he was gay and what do I do?

Well one night what I did was come in with a fever of 104 and try to run the light board. I felt horrible, I was coughing and shivering and wearing a sweater and a jacket and generally feeling like ass and Tom who was the director in the tech room saw me huddled in my chair being miserable and put his brand new leather jacket that smelled like Polo over my shoulders.

I was a walking germ pit. It was one of the nicest things and one of the most noble sacrifices anybody has ever done for me.

And my realization was complete.

Gay or straight he was a damned fine human being and that was my takeaway -- damned fine human being should trump prejudice at all times.

I tried to make sure it did after that--there were more moments of awakening, of course, and culturally there were always layers to peel away and behaviors that needed to be unlearned, like there is in any civil rights movement I would imagine.

But so much of it was started that night with a leather jacket that smelled like Polo and a really nice guy trying to take care of a walking plague victim running a light board.

So there's three--I'll let you know if I remember any more!


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