Did you ever…?
Did you ever wonder what it would be like to be an actor? I had quite a bit of free time on my hands, so I decided to join the local community theatre. They were in the process of casting for their fall production of a murder mystery, and there were plenty of parts to go around. At the tryouts, I discovered that I had no talent for acting, so I took the director’s advice and consented to work backstage. I was assigned to work with my neighbour Dennis who would be in charge of lighting. When Dennis was trying to teach me to operate the lighting board, I nearly electrocuted myself and the theatre was without power for two days. The director reassigned me to work with props and scenery and he continued with the auditions by candlelight.
Several days later, all the parts were cast and rehearsals began. It was all very exciting to watch. Everything was going along fine until one of the scenery flats that I forgot to secure, fell over and knocked the lead actor senseless. His understudy took over for him until he was released from the hospital. One of the “bit players” chipped a tooth when he tripped over a prop bag I accidentally left onstage. After that, things went along very smoothly. Dress rehearsal was flawless, and everyone looked great in their 1800’s costumes. On opening night, the theatre was packed! In the first act when the leading lady made her entrance, I didn’t realize that I was standing on the train of her dress. It detached itself and she walked onstage with only the front of her dress. The audience was treated to a splendid view of her bloomers. She played the rest of the scene seated on the sofa and refused to make her exit.
Before the second act started, I noticed that one of the doors wouldn’t stay closed.
I fixed it just in time. However, in the middle of the second act, the lead actor had to make his entrance through the window, because the door I fixed was stuck shut. By this time, the director’s eyes were rolling in opposite directions, and he was chewing on his shirt. He only stopped when he began choking on a button and they had to call the paramedics.
In the third and final act of the play, there is supposed to be a violent storm. Dennis did an excellent job at making the lightening, and the prop man was working the big thunder sheet. It sounded so real that I asked the prop man if I could try it, and he reluctantly agreed. I guess I shook it too hard because the whole thunder sheet came loose from its hooks and klunked the prop man squarely on the head. At this time, the murderer was supposed to make his grand entrance through the French doors with the lightening, thunder and wind behind him. I didn’t know when the prop man would regain consciousness, so I tried to operate the wind machine. I might have had it on too high a setting because hats, wigs, beards, and assorted articles of clothing were flying around the stage. They brought down the curtain and the stage manager walked out onstage and narrated the rest of the play to the audience. I never did find out what happened to the director; he was never seen again.
When I got home, I called my sister. She had been in the audience, but refused to comment on the play. I told her that it wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be, and that I was going to retire from show business. She said: “Hats will fill the air in New York and Hollywood.” When I asked her if she thought it would be a good idea to start my own theatre company, she hung up on me.
“Did you ever…?” is a weekly newspaper column by Melech
©Copyright 2009 by Melech. All rights reserved
The next column will be posted on June 27, 2009