Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Was A Thespian.

I'll start by being off topic. Hey, its what I do. So, I comment on other peoples' blogs and you guys all convinced me to start my own blog, which means I talk a lot on line. Does anyone else have trouble remembering "Did I talk about that already"? I do. I'm absolutely sure I've never mentioned this one.

I went to Emerson College in Boston with the intention of being an actor. I think I was pretty good at it. I got most of the parts I auditioned for. Eventually, two things made me abandon the acting bug. First, I realized that success meant doing the same freakin' play 8 times a week. This did not appeal to me. Second, and how do I put this delicately, I thought all the other actors were a bunch of self-absorbed, necrotic assholes. I decided that this wasn't the world for me.

But anyway (we're back on topic now), toward the end of my freshman year, I was cast in a Noel Coward play. I have no memory of which one it was, but I was in it. I think we did a total of five performances. The last one was to be on a Saturday night and there'd be a wrap party afterwards. At the time, I'd had the hots for some girl for a few weeks and had never gotten up the nerve to say anything to her. I told a friend about it and he said, "Dude, you're in a show and there's a wrap party. You totally need to invite her to the show and the party. She'll totally think you're the coolest guy ever." (This is the same guy who harassed me endlessly to participate in the protest about Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant's opening. "It's a the most important issue there is. We need to stop this or they'll destroy the planet", he said. On the day of the protest, I ran into him when he was coming out of a bar in Kenmore Square. When I asked him why he wasn't at the protest, he said, "Well, its not worth getting my head beat in.")

Anyway, in my fevered 19-year-old brain inviting her to a wrap party seemed like a can't lose proposition. So, I invited her to the show. By inviting, I mean I kinda told her I was in a play and that going would be free and if she went, she'd get to see me act. I'm pretty sure I did everything possible to make sure that if she didn't want to see this as a date, I had let her off the hook.

CUT TO: The night of the play. I make my entrance at the end of Act 1. I'm in a fat suit and I have powder in my hair to make me look gray. I'm smoking a pipe. I deliver two lines and sit in a wicker rocking chair. My job, at this point is to sit in the rocking chair and rock. I need to make eye contact with my co-stars. I need to puff on my pipe meaningfully. I don't have any lines in Act 2. In Act 3, the final Act, I have a couple of killer lines. Steal the show, if I'm good, kind of lines. I killed in the first four performances.

So, anyway, I make my entrance, deliver my lines to a warm reception and sit in the wicker rocking chair. Two things happened at this point. First, I looked out into the audience and what did I see? The friend who'd advised me to invite the love of my life to the show is sitting with her in the front row! And they're not paying any attention to the show whatsoever. Why? Because he's got his tongue shoved so deep down her throat that he can tell me what her kidneys taste like. Of course, I find this distracting, but I've got all of Act 2 to get my shit together before I have to deliver another line. I puff on the pipe frantically.

But then, the true tragedy of the evening occurs. Remember, I've got a fat suit on. I'm shifting furiously in the wicker rocking chair. The backside of the fat suit is held together with safety pins. One of the safety pins comes loose and somehow, not only gets embedded in the wicker, but then stabs me in my actual skinny ass. It hurt. It hurt a lot. But I'm a thespian. The show must go on and all that crap. So for the next Act and a half, I'm puffing my pipe and making meaningful eye contact with the other actors and shifting around in an unsuccessful attempt to disengage my ass from a long sharp safety pin...while watching my ex-best friend make out with the girl of my dreams.

I bet you think this story has some totally triumphant ending. Sure you do. Not so much. When the play ended, I was still impaled on my safety pin. The rest of the cast lined up on the proscenium and took their bows. I scooted the rocking chair around to face the audience and rocked at them. I waited patiently for the audience to leave. My friend and the object of affection came up and said something I don't remember and left, groping each other the entire time.

When the room was finally empty I stood up, ripping the fat suit and pulling the safety pin out of my ass. Then I went to TGI Friday's where my roommate was a bartender and had a bunch of fruity drinks for free. My only revenge was that she broke his heart two weeks later. I totally refused to do anything to try to console him. Hah! Take that.

I'm pretty sure my existance never registered on her radar.

This is my inspirational Thursday post. You're welcome.

23 comments:

Jeff Hentosz said...

I love acting (I even took improv and writing classes at Second City when it had a theater and training center in Cleveland), but never enough to pursue it as a career.

I was in my senior class production of You Can't Take it With You. I played the Russian ballet teacher and got the biggest laugh in the show by wandering upstage and dropping my pants to reveal my luscious gams in black tights.

Also, that experience was for me kind-of the opposite of yours, in that I met my first really serious girlfriend doing it (she played the female lead). Of course, she broke my heart four months later, so...

Jeff Hentosz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Hentosz said...

Hmm. On second thought, that was uncalled for, and so, (hopefully) obliterated. Funny is funny, but I should probably be questionable and tasteless in my own space, rather than yours. You're welcome!

Happy Mr. Rogers Day, everybody!

Nathan said...

Obliteration achieved.

Just so everyone knows, Jeff was only mildly questionable and tasteless.

Eric said...

I'm afraid that very, very, very few stories that contain the phrases "19-year-old brain" and "had the hots for some girl" have triumphant endings. (I believe I'm making an enormous concession that there are even any at all when I say "few.") If the 19-year-old brain was a consumer device, there would be service packs, class-action lawsuits, massive recalls, possibly Congressional hearings.

To say a woman is involved in The Big Fail is almost redundant if we're talking about the straight male and lesbian versions of the 19-year-old brain (all 19-year-old brains have catastrophic issues, mind you, the thing is a piece of crap that should never have made it out of beta). Although the possessor of a 19-year-old brain is oblivious to it, the fact is that millenia of evolution have wired into it a directive to have lots of sex right now so that a backup of the owner's genes can be made before he is eaten by a tiger or eats bad tree lichen.

Given that tigers are generally a remote threat, lichen is no longer a part of diet (if it ever was), and that most 19-year-old men would really rather not have one baby right now (much less dozens, thank you very much), the 19-year-old brain is not only prone to malfunction, but it's the wrong product for the wrong era.

Unfortunately, nobody has ever been able to demand a refund from the manufacturer.

I, too, was a thespian in my youth. In high school and even after--I was actually a professional actor for a brief time insofar as I was actually paid by a struggling playwright who was attempting to start his own small theater company since nobody else would produce his plays. (Nobody was a discerning reader--the play I was in, at least, wasn't very good. But I got money. We performed his show mostly in nursing homes, where we had a captive audience: they were strapped into their chairs to keep them from falling out and breaking things.) Anyway, that was one of the many minor job fiascos that ultimately convinced me that college was a better option than starving artist; this is a decision which I have simultaneously regretted and not-regretted in a strange and endless paradox. There is surely an alternate universe out there where I am the musician/actor I aspired to be--and sell shoes or anonymously call people during dinner to ask them if they're happy with their phone service or perform some other degrading job to keep myself from being homeless.

Michelle K said...

I have nothing to say, except that necrotic means discolored and dead skin or tissue.

This makes your post even funnier, I think.

Eric said...

I assumed he meant "necrotic" and not "neurotic." And you're right, it is funnier.

Nathan said...

I will proudly proclaim that I was totally aware of "necrotic" means when I wrote it and had to stop typing for a minute, laughing at my own cleverness.

::bows::

Eric said...

::applauds::

Janiece Murphy said...

I was a Thespian, too. Thespian of the Year, my senior year in HS.

Big whoop, huh?

And I'm reminded of Shawn's stream of consciousness of the male teen brain:

sex
sex
sex
sex
slightly kinky sex
sex
sex
Halo!
sex
sex

Michelle K said...

Have I now proved beyond a reasonable doubt that my brain really *is* full of random facts and information?

Also, I never had a desire to act. Ever.

But I have danced in public (10 years of dance lessons as a kid, and I am still the second biggest klutz on the planet) and sung and played a musical instrument in public.

Now being a radio announcer? That would be fun.

Nathan said...

You want random facts, I'll give you random facts. What are the only three cities in America larger than Jacksonville, Fl (in sq. miles)?

Juneau, Anchorage and Sitka Alaska.

(I only know this because when Jacksonville consolidated the surrounding county in the early 70's it held the title until those rats in Alaska started doing the same thing and eclipsed us.)

Michelle K said...

Yeah, but I had a *tangential* random fact.

And tangential is a math term. :)

Jeff Hentosz said...

Nathan: Thanks, but was it funny?

Shawn, by way of Janiece: The only thing missing from the list is "Two cheeseburgers, a large chicken nuggets, super-size fries and a large shake."

Michelle: I thought "tangential" was a word to describe how little, easily peelable citrus fruits taste.

MWT said...

Mmmmm... tangerinial...

Today I've got a burger from Checkers (aka Rally's in other parts), and potato cakes and a Jamocha shake from Arby's. This is to make up for the fact that last night when I had a hankerin' for a burger I went to the diner across the street and theirs turned out to be kind of crappy. In fact the whole diner has gone crappy - all of their food, the service has gotten much ruder, etc. One of these days I'll learn to go the extra couple blocks to one of the late-night fast food places instead.

How's that for a tangential kind of tangent? :D

Oh, and please click on the hatchlings on my blog. Two of them (the two under "needy strays") are on the verge of death. o.O

Jeri said...

Hey, I have a budding thespian under my roof who is an 18 year old male. He's got the full diva complex too, narcissistic as all heck.

I will say, that from my experience, the 18 year old male brain is preferable to the 15 year old male brain... the thinking is marginally more sophisticated and the tesosterone-induced mood swings have slowed way down.

He wants to be a professional too, and is majoring in drama and music in college. (I'd cut him off financially on tuition if I didn't strongly believe that at least some college degree is better than no college degree.)

The odds of him making it in any professional setting are slim, and I tend to be free with my reality checks about average salary and work expectations, but it's not my place to smother his dreams.

Steve Buchheit said...

Did the thespian thing as a younger kid, but then went into the band. My 12-20 year old brain said it was an easier and better way to pick up chicks playing trumpet, euphonium, tuba, and rhythm guitar. Strangely enough, the best way turned out be playing a Chipmunk singing the Beatles (I was George Harrison) in a lip-synch contest while strumming a tennis racquet, with shoes duct-taped to my knees.

Excellent story. So the next time I'm in a meeting and my butt goes numb from the chair and boredom, I can always think, "Hey, it's better than being in front of hundreds of people with a pin in my ass watching my love interest snogg my former friend all while I have to pretend I don't notice." That'll cheer me up.

vince said...

I have acted on and off unprofessionally (meaning no pay) since high school. I enjoy it and some people have remarked that I am semi-good.

Michelle K - being a radio announcer IS fun. Not immensely profitable, but fun.

And finally, there are no poisonous snakes in Maine.

Nathan said...

And the official State Snack Food of Utah is Jell-O. (which is kind of interesting since I don't think they make the stuff there.)

Janiece Murphy said...

Is Jell-O kosher?

Nathan said...

Apparently, Yes.

Is it Kosher and Pareve?

"JELL-O Brand gelatin is certified as Kosher by a recognized orthodox Rabbi as per enclosed RESPONSUM. In addition to being Kosher, Jell-O is also Pareve, and can be eaten with either a meat meal or a dairy meal."

They included a sheet with a copy of "The Halachic Basis of our Kashruth Certification of Atlantic Gelatin and the General Foods Products containing this Gelatin" by Rabbi Yehuda Gershuni & Rabbi David Telsner. The upshot is that since the collagen has been taken apart by the chemical digestion and a new substance has been produced it meets the specifications of the Orthodox Dietary Laws and is Kosher and Pareve.

John the Scientist said...

Wow, so pigs and horses can be Kosher? Who knew?

Nathan said...

According to the article I looked out the FDA doesn't consider Gelatin a meat product because its been so completely chemically altered. What do I know? Seems a little strange to me too.