Note: I’m blogging today instead of Monday to make way for a Q&A with bestselling author LisaMcMann, whose young adult thriller FADE comes out soon. Come back Monday and check it out!
I don’t know if I can count amateur theater as a hobby since I’ve been in exactly two productions, not counting playing violin in the pit orchestra in high school. But I’ll take an excuse to tell funny theater stories, so here goes.
In 2005 I was in “The Women” by Clare Boothe Luce (which has recently been re-made into an updated modern movie.) I played Miriam, a husband-stealing, smoking, ex-dancer trollop. I called the play “Desperate Housewives in 1930s Manhattan” and it had a cast of, oh, twenty-some people. All women. Men figure into the plot, but they are never seen on stage.
I got slapped in the show. A center-stage catfight. The amazing actress who played Sylvia terrified me, to be honest. She was so intense I thought she was really going to rip my head off for stealing her husband. I had to remind myself that Miriam was braver than me! And anyway, Caitlin wouldn’t really wound me, as I hadn’t really stolen her husband. It was in this scene when the audience always realized what was about to happen, and they would all go, “Ooooooooo!” in the manner of schoolchildren who know someone’s really gonna GET IT. Sylvia ended up biting me. (But not really. The only marks were from lipstick.)
The funniest story from this show came toward the end. I was wearing an evening gown in a halter style. It had a hook closure, not at the back of the neck, but where the strap met the top of the dress on one side. The dress was made so that wearing a bra was impossible. I tried those sticky invisible bra things that are supposed to hold up the girls with the power of adhesive but they’re as unpleasant as they sound, and I could never get them level with each other. I looked like a Picasso painting.
But I’m, shall we say, petite. So I didn’t bother with a bra.
Can you see where this is going? Wait for it…
The dress was also terribly itchy. I knew better than to fuss with it on stage (lucky for me, and for the audience, actually) but opening night, when I exited stage left, I lifted the halter straps slightly to give some air to my itchy skin.
Yeah, I got air. The entire top of the dress flopped off and I was naked to the waist.
I seized the dress and yanked it back up over me and immediately wanted to break out in hysterical cackly laughter – because really, what else was there to do? – but the play was going on just behind me. So I held my breath and tried to run backstage, but there was a ton of furniture in the wings because it had to go on stage in the next scene, and I cracked my shin on it, and everyone else in the wings was holding their breath and shaking because they were also trying not to laugh…
Good times. I was never so glad to be in an all-female cast! Though our stage manager – who happened to be the director’s husband – was reportedly disappointed to have missed out.
There was so much more fun in that show. There was the phone ringing in my hand in dress rehearsal, about a minute after I’d “answered” it, someone during a performance slipped actual whiskey into the glass of my fellow actress instead of flat ginger ale as we expected, the time my fake cigarette’s burning end fell off and I had to stand there with a dead cigarette while the ash sent plumes of smoke up from the ashtray halfway across the stage…
I’ll do it again someday. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that my hobby these days is the occasional audition. I live in a bigger city now, and the talent pool is deeper, and I was a late convert to the theater world so I haven’t had much time to learn. And what with the writing and now twice as many kids as I had before, grueling rehearsals don’t fit into the schedule too well, anyway.
For now I’ll content myself with smiling at the memories, and making up stories in my head, which is sort of like theater, in a way.
Break a leg!