Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Backstage Story of Downstage Proportions

It's been a while since I told a backstage story, so how about the time, maybe 10 years ago, working a show at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles called Tongue of a Bird. With Cherry Jones, Sharon Lawrence, Diane Venora, and my friend Marian Seldes. Fun show with Sharon flying around all over the place, falling out of the grid, and a set with lots of sliding doors. Great fun back stage with a small rail to operate the doors, prop guys doubling on the rail, barely enough time to make your next cue...

One of my cues was going out on stage for a scene change in low light. Cherry Jones rolled a big heavy iron frame bed toward me, and I put it up stage through a door, which then closed, with me and the bed in there. One night, Cherry makes a bad roll with the bed, which heads off stage left, which, in the horseshoe-shaped house of the Taper, means it's heading right for an old ladie's lap in the front row. I jump down stage, stop the bed, spin it around, throw it in the upstage hole, the door closes, the lights come up, and I'm standing there on stage with Cherry Jones who looks at me like, "What are you doing here?"

So, I jump off stage, over a row of foot lights, and as I'm running up the aisle to the vom, I hear a round of applause! For me!

Well, the stage manager who shut that door and left me out there in the light (my Dad always said the only time anyone ever notices a stage hand is when you fuck up) became a good friend over the years. We did many shows together after that, and she never left me out in the light again. But we sure like to laugh about that story, still. Now she writes a blog, There I Am. Exactly how I felt that night, standing there in front of 750 people... There I was!

If you're interested in theater at all, you should follow her blog. It's a great insider's take on the theater world from an old hippie who has, quite literally, seen it all (I almost wrote scene it all)...

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