Monday, March 27, 2006

This can't be happening...

It always amazes me when, during a theatrical performance run, you can have one great night and then the next day, something, well, much less than great. Yesterday, during the afternoon matinee, I had one of the worst experiences of my life on stage. I think it’s called a “deer in headlights” moment.

From what the other loyal and very understanding cast members told me, most of them have had one at one point in their on stage experiences as well.
The thing that really bothers me is that I don’t know why it happened. I mean, I do know why it progressed the way it did, but as to what caused the initial car to derail, I have no idea.
The scenario is as thus, I had just delivered the line that starts, if Gwendolyn accepts me, I shill kill my brother”. My character is speaking metaphorically about killing an alter ego of his. It gets a laugh from the audience. My next line starts with “ If I should marry a charming girl like Gwendolyn” which came out all well, but then FOR SOME unknown reason I repeat, “I shall kill my brother”. And that is where the first domino fell. I knew that I had misspoken my line. So, while staying in character I then said, “No, what I mean is” and then it happened. My mind went blank. Eric and I ( he is playing Algernon – wonderfully I might add) just froze and stared at each other. My forgetting the line threw him to he point where he forgot his follow up line. So, we just stared at each other blankly for what seemed like an eternity. Then he finally said, “Well?” and he began to adlib a line. Now panic sets in, so at the point in time anything that comes into my mind, EXCEPT the next line of course, is going to be blurted out. And it was, which is why I said “I’m sorry, I think that we should ring the bell”.
All of this is being said in character of course. The reason that I suggested that we ring the bell is because the next characters that come on stage are supposed to be Lady Bracknell and her Gwendolyn. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought in a nano-second that that would trigger them to ring the bell offstage. Well, Eric does ring the bell but he calls for Lane the butler. He enters and Eric adlibs again about the missing cucumber sandwiches (if you have ever seen “Earnest” you know what I’m talking about). Lane then says “do you want me to go get some?” The whole time, a voice is my head is saying “this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening”. Fortunately, it was at that point that the bell rang, and in came Laby B and Gwen. And we all got back on track. Lady B was so shaken however, while offstage, by what had happened on stage that her teacup was shaking the entire time like a leaf on a tree.
I was told later my the tech crew that it only seemed like a brief pause form the audience and that most of them thought that the bell had malfunctioned. It seemed like an eternity on stage.

All I know is that I NEVER want that to happen again. Fortunately, George and I are off to the lovely Collingswood today to work on my studio. Larry and Tom will be joining us and I won’t even have to think about “Earnest” until next Thursday evening.

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