Letters to Holly

Tuesday, January 2

Day Thirteen: The Quickie

It's been a week since my last rehearsal, and this week is shortened because of Christmas. Tuesday was for Act One (I'm offstage). Wednesday was for Act Two (I'm onstage for about ten minutes). Thursday was for Act Three. But we knew that Big Mama would not be there as she was driving back from Texas. I've spent this holiday break going over my lines, and Act Three is a mess for Gooper. His lines are arbitrary and repetitive. It's been a struggle, and Thursday provides my last runthrough before we move offbook next week.

I luckily survived two hours of ice skating at the civic center and will not have to act with a real broken leg to match Brick's fake one.

Big Mama is indeed not there. But neither are the kids. And neither is Mae. She, I learn, has a death in the family. But she didn't leave a message about her absence. And the kids are definitely scheduled to arrive. We sit for a while, and Les the director says we'll salvage the night by doing a simple run through Act Three. No movement and without scripts if we can manage. I can do some of Act Three off-book, but I was planning on the stage movement to cement lines in my head. Big Daddy asks for lines a few times as does Maggie. But Brick, I think, has his lines down. Doc Baugh has some trouble but not much, and Reverend Tooker is reading for himself and Big Mama. The Director reads for Mae.

We finish and chat for a bit. Mostly we share theatre horror stories. Like how, for Student Prince, the Spartanburg Repertory Company decided to use a real dead chicken instead of a plastic one for a minuscule punchline. My character (one of two I had for the show because Spartanburg men refuse to work musicals) carries in the chicken to prove the Prince's valet could hunt. It doesn't serve the plot at all, but they decide to worry about this detail. So they buy a frozen chicken and hand it to me. And the show ran three weekends. With one thawing chicken in a cooler with no ice. And I got to carry it. Big Daddy mentions that he had to wear a foam fat suit in Atlanta during an outdoor summer theatre show. And they only washed it once. The director says that he was cast as the cook for Mother Courage and Her Daughters, and he was required to pluck a real chicken onstage.

The production meetings held before rehearsals allows the crew to hammer out details, and discussions apparently moved back to the language. The director says we might cut "fucking" out and tells the true story he heard from the new managing director:

A box-office employee answers the phone to hear an old lady.

Her: Does your current play have bad language?
Him: Yes, it does.
Her: Is the f-word used?
Him: Yes, it is.
Her: How many times?
Him: I don't know.
Her: (pause) Seven times is acceptable.

We then talk about theatre prudes, like the old people who walked out of one of my Barefoot in the Park shows because the young wife walks around in her slip for ten minutes. This was also the young, local all-girls-college actress I got to kiss every night for two months. God bless theatre. Big Daddy says he advised a local Baptist group to see Ah, Wilderness! at his theatre only to see them walk out, hold a prayer meeting on the theatre steps and demand their money back. All over one line: "They're making a preacher out of you." Victoria the Assistant Stage Manager says a group of home-schoolers left a recent Once Upon A Mattress show when it became obvious a pregnant character wasn't married.

The director then says we're to go home and come back Tuesday to run through Acts I and II. We're to be off-book. I call Heidi and meet up with her family on the corner and tell them they didn't miss anything, just a bunch of actors sitting around. I've got six days to nail down my Act Three lines, and I can do it. I just have to sit down and do so.

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

Moving Picture of the Day

While we were away for the holidays, the new Fantastic Four sequel teaser was released. All us geeks are aflutter over the inclusion of Silver Surfer, for not is he a cool '60s bit of design, but he almost guarantees the inclusion of Galactus, the World Eater.

Galactus remains Marvel's signature cosmic entity after his introduction more than 40 years ago. But will we see the classic Space Pope Kirby design or a new modern version?

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