All Animals: On Deck
She Writes A Little
Tomorrow is Opening.
…And in Children’s Theatre, I am now prepared to state that this means exactly the same thing as for “adult theatre.”
…Only with less cussing on final dress.
The melt-downs are a through-line, however.
End-of-tech week, it’s something to be expected of Actors and Crew…SM’s and Directors, to have at least one or two rage/yells/freak-out/bitch-snap and/or good cries by the point we have reached today: which is the final rehearsal before Opening.
…I would just like to state right now, however, that though I’ve seen and/or participated in my own fair share of such freak-out traditions in my time, I was only yesterday fully informed of how I’ve been doing it all wrong this whole time.
I have been SCHOOLED.
It has been NOTED.
The thing is: no one is as expert at throwing a tantrum as a preschooler. No one is as fussy with their makeup as a teenager, even with an animal nose. No one will complain more about what they are wearing than a grown man in a fake beard and/or knee socks. No one has known pain until they’ve played a hunched-over animal for 20 hours (so far) this week. No one understands a mother’s level of zen, until wrangling 3,000 (or so it seems) middle-schoolers, across two months of time.
This is the truth, my friends.
…And I have SEEN it.
…A three-year old Peacock having a total melt-down backstage, while Aslan is dieing and an audience looks on? Been there.
…Frequently late Beavers, missing entrances cuz of flirting with evil wolves? Seen that.
…Unauthorised spur of the moment dance-offs during blocking, by grade-schoolers of all animalia ranges? Yep.
…The total and COMPLETE inability to stand still and listen when placing two middle-school girls together (in any variety)? Check.
…A final threat to confiscate ALL cell phones if the SM so much as catches a GLINT of glow, or thumb mid-text, on any of them, from any person in the cast, ever again? You know it.
…The come-to-Jesus final last-straw frustration of still dropped lines, fucking up whole scenes at a time, three days before opening? Uh huh.
…The look on the lead makeup artist’s face (of 24 animals), when told her earliest actor calls are only an hour and fifteen minutes before curtain? Witnessed.
…The realization that we have three days off and ten shows between now and the end of the run next Sunday? Registered.
Children’s Theatre ain’t for sissies!
You gotta MAN UP to ride this ride, people!
…There’s no “glamour.” There’s no “pacifying.”
…There’s 47 too many people in the dressing room.
…There’s 111 too many in the lobby during cross-overs.
…The lamp post is NEVER going to be where it once-upon-a-time was supposed to…so just fucking get OVER it!
You WILL run into the wardrobe on accident, during black outs.
…And several small people.
You WILL hear when the 5-year-old Stag misses her entrance.
…And mostly cuz 15 people behind the curtain will be sotto-voce-ing it to her from afar.
…Also, there WILL be laughter when you are trying to lay down whole plot monologues, which no one seems interested in…cuz holy fuck, aren’t you that one chick who was in that show that time, with the stuff and the thing…??!! And now you’ve got ears made of felt and an animal nose!?!??!
The suspension of disbelief and/or improv at this level is a thin, thin line, my friends. Some are better at playing both sides, than others. I am not one of the better ones.
…I am going out there (stupid as it may seem to some) as a fucking BEAVER.
It’s my job.
So: I’m doing it. And I take it seriously.
It’s studied, and justified, and articulate, and specific as all my stage work always is. I don’t know how to do it any other way. I never have.
…So: from day one, I’ve been Mrs. Beaver. And this weekend, I was Mrs. Beaver. And tomorrow, and the next week…I will show up for every performance and bust JUST as much ass, being a non-hibernating mammal, as I have in anything else I’ve ever done.
…Because, (though I have tried) I don’t quite understand the way to differentiate it out.
A role is a role.
A scene partner is a scene partner.
Age ten or not.
…And though it may come with plenty of “good” sides to it: this mindset is a dangerous one to have (I’ve found) in the world of little people theatre.
…The expectations: for myself, are the very same I expect from them. From everyone. I always have.
I’m a hardass about “show up and work.”
I admit it.
…And while I am TOTALLY glad I’ve come to play with my friends and theatre family in Narnia over the holiday…lets just say: I’m comfortable in acknowledging that I’ve not missed my “calling,” all these years, after all.
Three things I know to be true, from the experience of where I stand now (in retrospect):
1) I am not “mother” material
2) I will always be frustrated by wasted/unfocused rehearsal time (child-related or not)
3) I can play a decent Beaver
Let it be noted.
Photo: The SKyPAC