Most of the directors I have worked with have been nice. Really sincere and nice.
But there is one nightmare director I remember. He was a PR guy who really wanted to direct. From the first day of rehearsal there was an uncomfortable paranoid vibe among the actors. Not good. He had a few people from a past production. And a few new actors. The newbies.
He was the type of guy that always needed someone to torture. I was first. I found out later when I left the room on the first day he said, “You know Cranky is a professional actress. Not like you guys.” This said because I was the only one with union cards in the show at that point. So I was resented immediately. Thanks Mr. Nasty.
Then there was the day the stage manager called me and asked if I could be at rehearsal in twenty minutes instead of the prior scheduled time of two and a half hours later. I wasn’t even dressed yet, but I busted my ass and got there. When I got there he didn’t use me for over two hours. I know the prick did it on purpose.
So when he was giving notes at the end of the day, the minute he was done with my scenes, I raised my hand and asked if I could split. I knew it was wrong, but I was having some sort of attack of verbal turrets. He started screaming at me and I got up and walked out. I slammed the door behind me. I didn’t care if I got fired and never went back at that point. I guess he did, because he called me up and said, “We’re OK, right?” I know the writer made him do it.
Incidentally. He liked to degrade the writer (who was also the producer and paying his salary) in front of the cast.
Next, was the Sunday I was supposed to be off from rehearsal. My husband and I were just leaving the house. The phone rang. The stage manager again. Could I come in today? It was too late to cancel our plans with the people we were meeting at that point, so I couldn’t. The director decided that was the day he would have his wife choreograph the group dance/fantasy sequence that was supposed to include the entire cast. The entire cast except for me.
When I came in the next day he said, “You’re out of the dance. I asked you to come in yesterday. Too bad.” I could of learned it in five minutes. I’ve done years of ballet and modern dance. I didn’t say a word.
Then he moved on to picking on another newbie, the drop dead gorgeous Columbian actress. He would make fun of her and roll his eyes so his pets could laugh at her. We had an immediate bond. During tech, gorgeous Columbian comes to me crying. She has a callback for a national commercial and he won’t let her leave. They are moving so slow, I know they are not gonna get to her scene for hours. Everyone knows commercials pay big bucks and any decent director would try to work around it and help her out. She only buys Payless Shoes for heaven’s sake. I mean really. He’s just being mean.
I pulled her into the dressing room. I said, “YOU FUCKING LEAVE AND GO TO THE FUCKING CALLBACK! I’LL COVER FOR YOU!” “Really?” she says in her darling Columbian accent. “Yes. Go back in the theater and show your face. Then get up like you’re going to the ladies room and hop in a cab and go and I’ll take care of it.” She did.
Like forty-five minutes later, the head ratfink comes out of the theater. She is spying for Mr. Nasty. “I’m looking for Columby, where is she?” she says. “She was just here.” I say. ” I think she went to the bathroom.” She goes back into the theater without checking the bathroom. Whew! A half hour later finky gal is back again. This time looking really suspicious. “Ah, I haven’t seen Coulmby around. Is she here?” she says. “Huh?” I say, “Oh yea, she was just here with me a minute ago. She went down the block to the deli to get something.”
Coulmby makes it back. No one is the wiser. She booked the commercial. Yeah! Within six months of the horror show closing she becomes a top 40 Columbian pop star. No kidding. Maybe I helped. Maybe she bought expensive shoes with residuals.
Then there is the young actor who had very little theater experience, who he likes to torture and tell the cast how stupid he is. You knew how little experience he had when you hired him Nasty. So mean.
He spent most of the rehearsal working out shtick for his brother who was in the cast. For the rest of the characters he wanted horrible broad interpretations.
He was there opening night and didn’t come back for a good week. When he did all he said was, “Wow. All the characters are so big. I don’t remember that.”
The star of the show was onstage every second of every minute of every hour of the show. But still, after opening night he changed all his blocking during my scenes with him so he could upstage me. I was a good soldier and stuck to the blocking that had been set for a while. Then I was like, “Alright, the war is on.” And I changed my blocking to upstage him. Every night, I would move upstage and he would have to turn to look at me. Then he would move upstage and I would move farther. Sometimes, actors left on their own is a little bit like “A Town Without Grownups.”
The director’s PR connections meant that the show was publicized a lot. That is the one thing he has going for him as a director.
I couldn’t wait until the whole thing was over. His brother did say the whole thing reminded him of fourth grade.
I was in the park recently and I look to my right and who is there? Mr. Nasty. He sees me. I see him. I’m not saying hello. He looks at me like he’s waiting for me to say hello. It’s the who’s going to say hello first contest. It was a standoff. Nobody.