Deep breath. In and out. I peek around the corner through the door - the director, standing there, introducing the audience to himself and the performance. We wait anxiously, fidgeting, whispering to each other. Shhhh! We don't want to shhhh.... We're too nervous. Shhhh!!! Fine, whatever. We shuffle around, fixing our costumes, flexing and unflexing our fingers. Pulling at little threads. All of a sudden, the lights go out. The director walks by - Break a Leg, he tells us. Yeah, we'll try, we respond uncertainly. The stage manager pushes us out - we stumble into each other, but file onto the stage. Taking our places in the dark - nervous, shifting, not supposed to move. The music starts playing - how did they find such great music? It fits well.
I lean onto my prop, and stare into the eyes of the actor next to me. He stares back and smiles reassuringly. I smile, and he nods slightly. The music ends and the spotlight hits the actor stumbling across the stage and the actress narrating his actions. He trips off the stage and the lights all turn on. Noise erupts from all around me - the actor staring into my eyes converses with those around him, and the girl next to him gazes at him longingly. I sigh, and smack my cane on the ground. Nobody looks, just as we rehearsed. They are acting like animals! I yell at them, and smack my cane again. They look up at me, noise ceased. I take a deep breath, and begin my speech.
They look at me, giving me hints under their breath as to slow down, speak up, or if I forget something. Every once in a while, there is a noise, and I snap them a look, just as we rehearsed. Did I forget my glasses? I did. Oh. My speech inspires the characters - noises explode out of them every once in a while, and I must silence them, just as we rehearsed. My speech ends, and I sing. I walk around them, singing to them, and then - a gunshot. We scramble back to our places to sleep - to hide. Can my character make it? Nope - my character dies. That's unfortunate - too bad for them.
I skitter off the stage for my costume change - not enough people for all these characters, some people need more than one. I need three, apparently. I rip off my costume and dress into a new ensemble. The makeup artists rush at me - There you are! Where were you? We've been waiting! - and attack me with various uncomfortable products. I pull on my boots, strap on my hat, grab my prop and rush to the back of the theater. The others are waiting - all but one. Where is she? She has an even worse costume change - rough. She suddenly scrambles around the corner and takes her place. We watch for our cue, then rush into the theater, shouting, props flailing, guns blazing, just as we rehearsed. Attacking the characters I was just inspiring. What a strange twist. The characters turn on us - we run, screaming, from the theater.
I dart down the hall and change into my final costume. The makeup artists are back - There you are! Where were you? We've been waiting! - and try to take all the two or three layers of makeup I have on, off. We're running out of time, and we give up. Just pile on another layer or two - have fun washing this off later! Thanks, replied dryly. Sighing, trying to calm myself. Makeup piled on my face - I don't even look human. Plan 9 from Outer Space, anyone? I tie up my boots, pull on a new hat - I love this hat -, set up my suspenders - I still wear those - and start running back down the hall once more. People cheering - part of the show. We rehearsed this. I stop and cheer with them, then continue on my way. Running through my lines... A whisper. Your on soon... go now!
I stumble into the theater and the spotlight hits me. I stroll down the aisle, shouting the lines for all to hear. I stomp up the stairs, onto the stage, and pace around, reciting the words just as we rehearsed. A voice shouts from backstage - a response to a question my character asked. Did I forget a line? Did I forget a word? I think I did... Darn. My solo stage performance coming to a close, I walk to the spot where I am supposed to end my speech - just as I practiced - and the other actors walk on stage. The characters are supposed to be at a formal gathering - ties, tuxes, dresses, the works. I get a wine glass handed to me - iced tea is inside. Yuck. Glad I don't have to drink this. We go through our lines and raise our glasses. We fall back and converse, just as we rehearsed. The actor next to me downs his iced tea and we trade glasses. Downs that one, too. Thirsty much? Stage lights are hot - too much time on stage. I get it.
We walk off the stage to a round of applause - all of a sudden, the lights are on. That's not supposed to happen. We freeze mid-stride and look at the audience. We didn't rehearse this! What do we do now? We stop and talk to each other as the characters - nothing happened. The lights go off. Sigh of relief. We rush off the stage - back into our lines outside the door. New music starts - we go out onto the stage and bow, just as we rehearsed. Screaming when our favorites come out and bow - hilarious! Everyone looks to me, and I present the crew. They follow suit - just as we rehearsed. We run out of things to do, and it ends.
We scream and clap and jump up and down. Running around the stage, high-fiving, hugging random people. Who are you? Oh well! I hug the actor, the actress, and we rush off the stage. Running around backstage, shouting, screaming. Then we sit down, and it sinks in. We're done here. All the months of planning, our first show out of three over. Well, we'll just do this again tomorrow. And the next day. One day, we'll give gifts to the directors. And a birthday song for an actress. We change, wash our faces - ugh, too much makeup, I'll need 20 showers to get all this off. We realize - it's over. We say our good-byes, our 'See you tomorrows!'. We go off our separate ways, just to repeat the process, perhaps in a better way, the next day.
Just as we rehearsed.