I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but I just haven’t found the time.
Ah, theatre. Don’t we all love it? Perhaps the most exciting part of theatre is the thrill of a live performance. Things go wrong, and in my experience as a high school performer, things go wrong often.
Once upon a time, during a cabaret-style fundraiser for The Muses, I performed a piece that included kicking a chair. I was supposed to throw the chair, in actuality, but the space we were using was so intimate that my throwing the chair in rehearsal came thiiiiiiiiiiiis close to sending one of the stage-hands to the hospital, so I was asked to kick the chair. Well, I kicked the chair with the wrong part of my foot, and it ended up swelling to the size of… I don’t know… my dad’s foot. I kept performing as if nothing had happened, and that night, I slept on the couch with my foot elevated and iced. I woke up in the middle of the night to find that my foot had turned completely black. I was freaking out. I had no idea what to do, so I decided to go back to sleep and pretend everything was okay.
In April, I was involved in a little show called Cinderella. That was the show from which I received the most injuries so far. As you know, there is this huge scene where the clock strikes twelve and Cinderella’s dress turns back into rags, yada yada yada… Anyway, we had this huge balcony set piece with stairs on both sides and all that I would run up in my ballgown, and as I quick changed back stage, the prince and royal family would run up it too. Then, the set piece would rotate and move across the stage while they ran across the balcony, and they would run down the backside offstage. Once they were off, another set of stairs would come out with a smaller set of stairs for me to climb on backstage, and I would run down the main set and across the stage in my rags. Complicated, right? Maybe I’ll find a video for more clarity. This all happened in less than thirty seconds.
This was a stressful set change for all of us, especially the tech crew, and they did not care if I was on those back stairs or not when they rolled the grand staircase onstage. I do not blame them for it, but this usually resulted in me doing superhero style leaps onto moving staircases and dodging a number of obstacles, including low-hanging door frames. Not only was I hit in the head or face with that staircase at least seven or eight times during the rehearsal process, but during our final dress, my hand was hit against the side of the stairs and began to bleed profusely. Due to my adrenaline rush, I didn’t even feel it. It wasn’t until about two scenes later, when I was singing “My Own Little Corner Reprise” that I realized I was dripping blood all over the floor. Because of the blocking in those scenes, I ended up getting blood on every single one of my costume pieces. After rehearsal, I was told I had to lick all of the blood off of each one of my dresses, because the best way to get rid of one’s own blood is with one’s own saliva. It was pretty disgusting, I’m not going to lie to anyone.
I also received a large bruise on my neck during that production when my stage manager had to change out my mic pac and ripped the mic tape from my neck. Everyone thought I received said bruise from the boy I was seeing at the time. Little did they know I actually received it from my true love (theatre, not the stage manager).
This story, however, takes the cake. Back in October, I was playing Ouiser in our school’s production of Steel Magnolias. Now, we don’t do a lot of full-length straight plays at my school. We’ve got some incredibly talented singers, so we usually put on big musicals that are almost always sold out. Our director was concerned about the attendance at our straight play, so she decided to have us perform part of a scene at our all-school assembly for promotion purposes.
We were onstage at places. The entire upper campus was crammed into the auditorium. I was sitting in one of the beauty-parlor style chairs in front of the sink, just behind the curtain. The rest of the cast was scattered about the set.
The curtain began to rise. I noticed that the bottom of the curtain caught onto the arm of my chair. Oh, no. I tried to discreetly pull it off, but the curtain was rising, and it would not budge. “Okay,” I thought, “worst case scenario, the curtain rips. It’s not the end of the world. There’s nothing I can do.” I began to hear a ripping noise, “Okay, there we go. It’s almost over. Act like nothing happened.” Suddenly, I realized that I was flying. Yes, I was flying. The curtain was lifting my chair off of the floor with me in it. “Okay, okay,” I thought, “Bailee, you’re going to end up on the ceiling. When you get to the top and the scene begins, you’re going to say, ‘Dang it, Annelle, how the heck did you get me in this mess?!'” I don’t know how in the world I thought that was going to work, but I was panicking, and trying to save the scene.
Next thing you know, I heard a loud crash. Turns out, stage left, the curtain had picked up two make up carts and lifted them into the air, and they had just fallen. Water, scissors, and hair accessories were all over the floor. Well, I did what just about any logical person would do at that point, now about four feet in the air, and screamed. I screamed and jumped out of the chair and onto the stage. Next thing you know, the chair dropped from the curtain. I don’t know how, but Katie (a.k.a. Annelle) and I caught it and put it back in place.
The stage manager were already at work cleaning up the carts and getting everything back in place.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” I said, recovering, “that was a sneak preview of our spring musical, Peter Pan.”
After that, the scene went on without a hitch.
My point is, sometimes, crazy stuff is going to happen to you. You might wake up with a black foot or have to lick the blood off of your ball gown, but theatre leaves you with exciting stories that will last a lifetime.
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