Letters to Holly

Wednesday, January 17

Day Twenty-Three: Socks

The costume and make-up managers (a tag team of older women) also do our laundry every day. If you want clothing washed , you just put it in a basket in each dressing room, and they take care of it before rehearsal. They've tagged some of the clothes as our own, and each person has a list of their costume pieces separated into those own by the theater and what we brought from home. When I arrive, I go to the laundry machines to get my socks and shirt. One of the ladies hands them to me, and I take them back to the dressing room and sit them down at my stations.

We each staked out our regular seats in there as soon as we started wearing costumes for rehearsals. If you start from the left side of the room, we're in this order: the two Gooper sons, the reverend, Brick, Big Daddy, me and the doctor. Because we're in such a confined space, we have to be extra polite. As Heinlein wrote, "moving parts in contact contact need lubrication," and while he was indeed a dirty old man, he also regarded courtesy as a social foundation. Courtesy is that lubricant. So we're polite. But as I start to dress and put on my make-up and put in my contacts, I return to my station to find the socks gone. They were laying on top of my t-shirt.

Now, I'm not a paranoid guy. I used to be. Used to scream "theft" whenever something went missing, and because those occasions usually ended with the object found under something or where I had forgotten it, I stopped the paranoia. And as the socks were gone, I bite my tongue and search the place. I go all through the dressing room, the stage, the backstage, the laundry room, the green room, the bathroom. Everywhere. I ask the crew if they had seen them and apologize to the costume ladies for losing theatre socks. It becomes a joke that Gooper can't keep his socks. And after a while I know, despite my hesitation to say so, that someone took them, and the first suspects were the Gooper kids. But the last thing a theatre needs is drama, so I decide to just wear my day socks and bring in another pair tomorrow. As I go back to the green room, one of the costume ladies asks if I had checked the feet of the other actors and I say I hadn't. She promptly did. And there they are on the preacher's feet.

He claims they are his and points out that these dark socks go with his black suit. As a dilettante artist, I have some notion of color. I know the difference between brown and black. Those are mine. He's convinced they're his. We talk to the costume lady from whom I got the socks earlier, and we all recite how the evening began regarding piecing our costumes together. I ask where he got them, and he says simply "off your t-shirt." I coulda screamed. This I expect from the kids, but not an adult whose been a regular actor. He obviously waited until I was gone to take them, and he didn't speak up when everyone knew I was looking for them. He took them off and handed them to me and I promptly put them on. Fuck athlete's foot.

This is a tiny thing. Tiny tiny tiny. But the reverend is not hitting home runs with me lately, and this doesn't help. We now have a precedent of backstage items walking away, and I hate that kind of atmosphere. I don't need that distraction on top of everything else.

Before the rehearsal, Mae leads us in warm-ups. We stretch a bit, and jump a bit and do basic theatre mouth exercises. "The black bug bled black blood." "She sells seashells by the sea shore." "Red leather, yellow leather." "Unique New York." And we open up the lungs and breathing muscles. Then we practice our curtain calls and go backstage. The eyeliner pencil is really handy as it draws easily. Usually one has to hold the pencil to a light bulb to melt the wax and get a good flow. But it doesn't wash off well. And last night I forgot to use the pencil on my eyebrows over the base make-up. Again, I don't know how much this makes a difference for the audience, but if Mae and Big Daddy and Big Mama are slapping it on, so shall I.

While I'm waiting for my cues, I read Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff with one ear cocked to the stage. I can't read but a few pages at a time out of eagerness to get going, and I close the book and wander off and recite my lines. I try not to put any inflection on them because I want the night's performance to have the fresh delivery. While there are snacks backstage (despite warning of eating in costume), I constrain myself to bites of leftover candy canes. My coat pockets are full of them. Before I go onstage in Act III, Victoria says I'm developing a fan club, and I attribute this to two possibilities:

1. I look a lot different than I did for read-throughs, and
2. Gooper's a damn fun role to play. I think he gives the show a sympathetic burst of energy in contrast to Big Daddy's bluster and anger.

But I do feel good about where I am with the role and confident about getting our first audience Wednesday night. The director even tells me before I leave that I can slow down Gooper's big speech. Wait, I can milk the big monologue and own the stage a little longer? Don't have to tell me twice.

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
Day Nineteen: There Is Not A Doctor In The House
Day Twenty: Back to Words
Day Twenty-One: Getting Technical
Day Twenty-Two: We're Ready When You Are

Picture of the Day
The dressing room. My stuff is right of center. The clothes rack is on the left. See the brown liquid on the right? That's what drips from the ceiling.


Anonymous said...

Coffee drips from the ceiling?
What an innovate caffeine delivery system.

Gregory said...

They shouldn't have built that Krispy Kreme on the roof. I told them and told them.