Letters to Holly

Saturday, November 3

Second Show

Your Sis met Your Parents at a wine-tasting at a friend's store. I stayed home, mowed the yard one last time this year, did some laundry, and ran lines. They came into town earlier than expected, so we had dinner together, and I tried to prepare them for the show. I let them know they could be in the jury if they wanted, how the play was constructed, what conceits to expect, and the like. I went back to the house to dress and left them in her patient hands. I fixed my glasses earlier in the day with a new screw, and I can't stress enough how many times I ran lines mentally. I'm still spooked by Wednesday. I'm painting layer on top of layer in my head. Just to make sure. Just to hold up my end.

The make-up session was uneventful (nothing collapsed or fell apart this time), and I kill time in the cast area for about an hour. New rules restrict our movement backstage because the jury also goes backstage to rest up and pee. This decimates the number of bathrooms we can use and even how much roaming space we have. It's confining, and I wouldn't be bothered by it all if it wasn't so $!*@ hot in that suit and courthouse. And when we go "onstage," I sit in front of a custom made light stand and fry. My heart pounds from the lamp intensity, and it wasn't until halfway through the show tonight that I realize "hey, I'm not anxious, I'm roasting." I thought I was panicking all that time, and I jotted down line cues over and over to calm myself.

Which is why my blanking was so startling to me. I had dropped a cue line to the first housekeeper in Act One, but she covered it seamlessly. The same thing happened with the Swedish housekeeper in Act Two. No problem there. The story wasn't compromised. But when Act Three came around, I furiously write cues to make sure nothing worse happens. And then it happens. As I interrogate the gangster, I have four blocks of lines in succession with the word "mister." I mention Mr. James Sutton Vance, Jr. and Mr. Van Dorn (two gangland victims), Mr. Faulkner (the dead guy), and then refer to the gangster by names (Mr. Lawrence Regan). But I froze on the last "mister" block. And hey, we're videotaping tonight. What a great time to flake right the fuck out.

But, my head says, you wrote it down over there. So I hold up my finger in the international "hold on a second" sign, walk over to my legal pad, find the "4 misters" notes, and lock onto my line. Then I gather myself up and slowly turn to him as if I'm preparing a punch between the eyes. Back on track, crisis averted. It's embarrassing initially until I realize this is exactly what we had talked about in rehearsals. My notes became my character's notes. I missed no lines. I added a wee bit of silence. After the show, the gangster asks if I planned it and could I do that from here on. People from the audience congratulate me for not missing a line. It looked good. I saved my own ass and did it in character. Hear that sound? That's the dodged bullet.

The audience is larger and more reactive tonight. They "ooh" and "aah" at witness bombshells and sharp lawyer questions. Doc uses an index card for one of his lines (using the legal pad would have looked better, but he didn't lose a line), and I improvise a line when he forgets to ask for my affidavit. I have to navigate a dropped word in my closing argument. We have some potential sinkholes but emerged unscathed, and no one got hurt. That's worth smiling over, as is the murmur in the audience after my closing argument. It always kills. It always wows. It's written that well. I just stay out of its way.

The "not guilty" verdict sucks, but the split was 8-4. I earn more votes tonight. If Doc wins tomorrow night, the contest is over with four victories out of seven. Your Parents liked the play, but the hour was late, and they had to boogie home. Your Sis is crippled with a headache and in bed as I type this. I think she's just stressed from hosting Your Parents. Maybe some bad wine too.

I'm determined to scan the script only once between make-up and Act One and trust the lines have stuck to my brain. I don't have notes for all my lines, and if I prepare for half the script, the other half will be the one to bite me in the legal ass. Tomorrow, My Parents catch the show. It's also the last run of the week. By this time tomorrow, I will have done this entire play seven times in nine days. I plan to get blotto while watching the recorded Colts/Patriots game.

Official play website

First Show
Biding Time
The Last Rehearsals
Countdown: Two Rehearsals
Extra Drama
Countdown: Three Rehearsals
Countdown: Four Rehearsals
Countdown: Five Rehearsals
Countdown: Six Rehearsals
Countdown: Seven Rehearsals
Clock is Ticking
My Big Speech
Punching a Cop Is Bad, Right?

Act Two Redux
Friday Through Sunday
Getting Serious
Our First Friday
Act Three Lines
Dusting Off Act One
Line Trouble
End of Second Week
'Go and Do Likewise, Gents'
Script Work
Walking and Talking
Marking the Floor


First Night
Second Night
Third Night
Fourth Night

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