To quote the movie Shakespeare in Love, “…allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.” Those of you in theater are, undoubtedly, quite familiar with the numerous pitfalls and minor disasters that occur when putting on a show. All too often these little things happen at the last minute which, I suppose is why we have tech rehearsals, dress rehearsals and so on. Below is a collection of things that happened at the dress rehearsal for “Medieval Macabre”, the new show by The Baron’s Men. They’re probably unremarkable, perhaps even common for theater folk, possibly eye opening for the theater going public, but hopefully you’ll find them somewhat entertaining. We did, but then we’re all a bit sleep deprived right now.
Roman Noble White Trash: What happens when you can’t afford a dresser? You have an actor who doesn’t know that he’s supposed to keep wearing the tunic from the previous scene, and then wear his toga over the tunic in the next scene. So now we have a Roman noble take the stage in a toga, wife beater and bike shorts. As Seneca said, “The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity.”
The Three Stump Conundrum: How do you get two actors dressed when they have three stumps, but only one sound hand between them? Does the actor with two stumps de-stump one hand and thus provide the actors with a hand apiece? Does the actor with one stump de-stump and dress himself and the other actor? Does the actor with two stumps do a double de-stumping and thus complete the dressing? And de-stumping is followed by re-stumping, right? Is there time for all of this de-stumping and re-stumping? What’s that you say? Have one of the crew assist the poor, be-stumped actors? Very well, I suppose we could that if you insist on employing common sense rather than creative problem solving, but it’s much more fun watching the stumpers trying to get themselves properly dressed.
Premature Squirting: Wow, this is really embarrassing. It’s never happened to me before. Next time, remember not to overfill the blood bags as it leads to premature arterial flow. Give me a few minutes and I’ll be ready to go again.
The Inability to Unsheathe: Remember good ol’ one stump? He had some trouble getting his weapon out. First he couldn’t find it, then he couldn’t reach it and finally it got tangled up in his apron. Oh well, at least it didn’t go off prematurely.
The Grendel Mishiva: Please tell me that Grendel’s costume isn’t finished. He took the stage wearing Comanche breech clouts and what looked like a shawl from Fiddler on the Roof. Are those Danish kosher? If you pull my arm off, do I not bleed? Oy vey…
Demon Repeaters: As it turns out, the denizens of hell either don’t know their cue or they just don’t care. While they were supposed to wait until the stroke of twelve, they tried to take the stage at every chime of the bell. The director eventually won her battle, thus proving that she’s capable of riding herd on Satan’s infernal crew.
Werewolf There Wolf: One of the actresses has been tapped to provide the howl for the werewolf and that lady has some pipes. The howl is meant to be distant, not to be confused with low flying aircraft. Can we put a muffler on our howler? Back it up, honey. Please a little farther. Nope, still too loud, back a little further. Okay, now how do we get her back to the theater in time for her next scene?
Sweaty Math: Temperatures in the 90’s + high humidity + Elizabethan costumes = actors “basting their own sweat” (the actor’s words, not mine). Ewww…
Laundry Lesson: Here’s a lesson for you new actors from the wardrobe mistress: take off your outer garments and hang them up on the hangers with your name on them. Then take your accessories and put them in the box with your name on it. Do not, I repeat, do not shove your sweaty (see the item immediately above this) outer garments into the box with your name on it. Yes, this is supposed to be a Halloween show, but we don’t want the costumes to come to life and begin roaming the theater unattended.
Laundry Lesson #2 – Don’t Dunk the Ruff: If you’re going to lean over a toilet while wearing an Elizabethan ruff, do be sure that the ruff is securely tied in place, lest the ruff wind up in the toilet. And if the ruff does wind up in the toilet, resist the urge to flush immediately and tell the wardrobe mistress that your dog ate your ruff. Finally, if the ruff gets dunked, be sure to tell the wardrobe mistress what happened so she knows to use the appropriate tools for grasping and holding the ruff (preferably long salad tongs).
Light Designer on a Wet Tin Roof: The lighting guys spent most of the evening of our second dress rehearsal crawling around the theater hanging lights. That included crawling around on the tin roof of our outdoor theater (our theater is built like The Globe Theater) after a rain shower. We’re not sure if these guys are really brave or just flat out crazy. Wait, it’s the lighting guys: yeah, they’re just crazy.
Through it all we managed our dress rehearsal and we hope that you come see our show, “Medieval Macabre” at The Curtain Theater. For more information, please go to our website: www.thebaronsmen.org . So how does a theater company make it through all of these little calamities and actually stage a show? We don’t know. It’s a mystery.