Letters to Holly

Thursday, January 11

Day Nineteen: There Is Not A Doctor In the House

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing has 80 callbacks. EIGHTY! That's a South Asian army. All these hopeful kiddies present means parents are bogarting our parking spaces, and it takes a while for everyone to arrive at the stage. The costumer has outfits for various folks like the reverend and Maggie and Mama. Mae tries on another dress, and it's brilliant scarlet. It might be too much strong for anyone other than Maggie, the lead. Doc is out of town until Sunday, and the director tells us to make the play march tonight. Curtail the dramatic pauses and finish quickly.

The stage manager tells us that we will take photos right after the first Sunday show, a move that I disagree with. It's better to take pictures before a performance when we're not drenched with sweat, make-up running down our cheeks. We're also having an opening night dinner after the show and the cast receives one free drink each. I will have to pass as no one I know will be there opening night, and I have to drive home. We're to arrive this Sunday at 12:30 for the tech rehearsal, and we'll stop at 5 for dinner before running through the entire show.

She also has a prop table for us. Butcher paper covers a long table, and the outline of each item is penciled in and labeled. I have two props so far, a briefcase and a birthday cake. It's just a block of bluefoam tonight, but we're trying the stage candles tonight to see how well they burn.

The stage has even more new items, including a chandelier, faux wallpaper, and bar items. As Reverend Tooker walks center stage in his outfit, a piece of the chandelier falls onto the bar, and now we think it's possessed by demons. Or maybe he muttered "Macbeth" under his voice. I dunno.

Because we're trying to hurry along, our rhythm is shot to hell, and we make mistakes. Doc's absence doesn't help, especially in the third act, when so many of us talk to him. The reverend still has line trouble, and because the majority of his stage lines are to Gooper, it throws me off as well. We're gonna have to sit down together so he can get them straight.

I leave the stage in Act 2 to get and light the cake, but the candles go out as soon as I re-enter. Later, I get to hand a lit sparkler to the youngest Gooper child for her crazy-brat screaming scene. She runs back to me and hands me the sparkler, and I try to find a place to extinguish it, surrounded as I am by lumber, sawdust, old paint, old curtains, and probably Warner Brother Acme bombs painted to look like Christmas ornaments. Big Daddy compliments me, saying it sounded like Gooper has some Big Daddy in him, and I assume that comes from my frustration seeping out during my big monologue.

After the play, we're told to move back in the wings to make our offstage lines sound further away from the audience. The director has some moments during his notes where he doesn't know what he was trying to tell himself. I see that happen every play. Thursday's run will be only for Acts I and II, and hopefully will be short. I will be there despite my minuscule stage time.

Previous entries:
Day One: Reading It Through
Day Two: Act Two
Day Three: Reading Act Two
Day Four: Talking It Through
Day Five: Blocking Act Two
Day Six: Act Two Redux
Day Seven: Reading Act Three
Day Eight: The Da Gooper Code
Day Nine: The Laying On of Hands
Day Ten: Pictures and Pages
Day Eleven: Onstage
Day Twelve: Memory
Day Thirteen: The Quickie
Day Fourteen: The Lines
Day Fifteen: Act III Anxiety
Day Sixteen: Let's Just Get It Right
Day Seventeen: Molding the Gooper
Day Eighteen: Goopercalypse

Picture of the Day
Maggie prepares to go onstage in Act 2. You can see Brick to the right, his left foot encased in fake plaster.

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