Ahh, fall. It’s the season where girls write Facebook statuses about loving crisp autumn leaves and sweater weather only to turn around two days later and complain about how much they hate the cold in real life. It’s the season where I get dandruff and nosebleeds and deplete drugstores’ stocks of ChapStick. Apparently it’s the season where I overshare, as well.
Fall is also the time where a bunch of like-minded theater geeks gather every night and rehearse for a play. Right now I’m supposed to be memorizing lines for my part in The Matchmaker (Hello, Dolly! without the music), but I’d rather just think back on last year’s play, because it was jam-packed with drama. Fall is for driving down winding roads and reminiscing about what used to be. And dandruff.
Last year I came to auditions expecting a letdown. I remember sitting in the theater and feeling like I had to vomit. I kept on thinking to myself, I have to make this, I have to. I had to be cast in The Diary of Anne Frank. I can’t explain why a little high school play, especially one that had been performed thousands of times the world over, was so important to me. It just was. I read the part for Edith Frank, Anne’s mother, and went back to my seat, sure I had failed. I had stumbled. I accidentally read one of Mr. Frank’s lines when I was supposed to read Mrs. Frank’s. The girl who read before me was better. At the end of the auditions, the director announced there would be no callbacks. The cast list would be posted Friday. This was on Monday.
When Friday finally came, my friend Emily rushed over to my locker, grinning madly. “We all made iiiiiiit,” she squeaked. I then did something that I never do. I ran. I ran all the way across the school with Emily to go look at the cast list. Emily was Anne Frank, and I was her mother. At this point I may have jumped up and down with excitement. I was going to be allowed to yell and cry and be loud onstage! I would be actually be in of the plays that I loved to watch so much. (I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with school productions since elementary school.)
The first rehearsal was great. The second rehearsal was swell. I don’t think it was until the third rehearsal when it started. Nothing huge, just the first signs of brewing drama. There was this kid, whom for my purposes I’ll call Buttface. Buttface was pretty cool at first. Buttface also, coincidentally, had a really nice butt. One day in rehearsal I was staring at said butt. Here’s what my face looked like, with an added smidgeon of drool:
My face was stuck like this until Buttface turned around and said, “Oh, admiring?” Here’s the face I made in response:
All butts aside, Buttface only got worse. (BUTT.) He was always saying confidence-boosting things such as “This will be a lot better when you learn how to act,” or my favorite (imagine this delivered in the most sarcastic way possible), “And the award for best actress goes to…” Some people just make it really easy to be onstage, especially when you’re super self-conscious about that kind of thing anyway. Thanks, Buttface.
It didn’t end there. Another cast member told me I was holding the play back. Maybe I was, though. The last time I was onstage, I was playing a poppy in our elementary school production of The Wizard of Oz. Compare the emotional range of a flower with that of a woman forced to hide in an attic with her family from people who wanted them exterminated. So I struggled. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, and Buttface and Co. were just making me more uncomfortable. I went home let my eyes sweat it out a little bit before resolving to get it right. I said my lines a thousand times. I yelled them in order to feel more comfortable. I cranked up the tunes and sang my lines at the top of my lungs. I’m no actress, but I wasn’t going to be fake or boring or hold anyone back.
The night before the play opened I had a dream. We were all onstage and I said one of my lines and waited for a response. When none came, I repeated my line. Buttface then informed me that we had actually switched plays and that, in fact, we were all going to be performing different plays at the same time. Everyone started speaking. Panicking, I looked out into the audience. Everyone was leaving. Everyone was leaving except my family. That was the worst, because they looked utterly disappointed. When nothing could get worse, the walls of the set started to fall in on us as the theater started to burn down.
That was awful. Here’s a bunny.
Opening night came and went that November, and the theater didn’t burn down. After the final night, the director’s husband approached me and said, “You weren’t as bad as they said you would be.” To me, that’s a success. Let’s hope this year is different. ♦