A Christmas Miracle For the Chickens

I’m thinking about the chickens. The ones I almost had to share my dressing room with. I got cast in an experimental theater piece in the East Village. Now, as an audience member, I hear the word Experimental and I am running in the other direction, but as an actress sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. LaMaMa anyone?

The show was written by an Italian playwright who has been writing about mental institutions for 30 years (that should have been my first tip off).

It was the worst rehearsal process I have ever experienced. He sent his assistant from Rome with notes from the Italian production to work with us before he arrived himself. The assistant was a guy who had been following the director around for five years writing his thesis on him. Sounds like a rich kid who has found an alternative to work, you think? So the director turned him into a free lackey and the lackey seemed honored to do his bidding.

The director wanted us to replicate EXACTLY the movements and blocking of the Italian production. I think the method hasn’t reached Italy yet or something. You know, developing a character, having your movements be motivated by SOMETHING. So the thesis student puts a stop to ANYTHING I want to try as we work on the play. I decided my character (nurse in the nuthouse) should have a little pad and pencil to make notes on the patients. He fucking CALLED ITALY to tell the director! He came back after lunch and said, “The director says, No pad.” I said, “Tell the director I’m not listening to him because he has made the choice of directing via telephone.”

It all came to a head one day in the midst of the graduate student giving line readings and saying, “Pleasa you mova the heada lika this.” I lost it and screamed, “I’M NOT A FUCKING MONKEY!! BLOCKING IS NOT DIRECTING! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” I figured I was gonna get fired, but he was Italian, and they scream like this if the pasta isn’t al dente. He nodded his head and we continued.

It went on like this until four days before the show when the director flies in from Italy and wheels his suitcase into the theater his dramatis personae scarf around neck flying in the breeze. He watches a run through and hates everything. As a former soccer player, his approach to directing is to scream at the top of his lungs in between talking about his semi-recent role in a film directed by a movie star. I never saw it, but sounds like he was a spear-carrier to me. ITSA MESSA.


They need a hospital bed for the show. Director and lackey get some nurse they know to “donate” one at the back door of a hospital. Being the insanity obsessed, and the terminal graduate student, they have no plan on how they are going to GET THE BED FROM MIDTOWN TO THE EAST VILLAGE. So they actually roll the bed through the streets of New York City. Waiting at traffic lights. Probably using hand signals when they turn at intersections. Dio Mio!

Then the assistant tells us at a cast meeting that the director wants REAL CHICKENS for the coop scene. Believe me, LIVE CHICKENS AREN’T GOING TO HELP THIS SHOW. He’s investigating the chickens. “Where are the chickens going to stay?” I ask. “Backstage” he says. “Where backstage?” I ask. “The dressing rooms.” he says. OH NO, “I WILL NOT SHARE MY DRESSING ROOM WITH CHICKENS!” I yell. “I’m drawing the line there!” They may think I’m a prima donna, but I am actually motivated by sympathy for the chickens. Backstage at the theater is freezing most of the time, it’s December, and they only turn on the heat during the show and we also use space heaters in the dressing rooms. I know on dark days they are gonna leave the chickens alone in some horrible little cage or something, and as an animal lover, I will feel sorry for the chickens, and start obsessing about what is happening to them, and I will end up bringing the chicken home and then my husband will have a fit and divorce me or we will get evicted for harboring farm animals in Brooklyn Heights. Stray dogs are one thing, but I know the chickens will put him over the edge. So my entire future is now dependent on the chickens. I can see where this is going. The lackey is non-committal in his answer about the chickens for days. I am mentally walking on eggs (pardon the pun) until I am saved when later in the week he tells us the City of New York has health regulations that prevent chickens backstage. Grazie.

The show opens, and for some bizarre reason The New York Times writes a nice article about it. Like it’s the perfect alternative Christmas show to go and see. Who’s insane now?

1 Response to “A Christmas Miracle For the Chickens”

  1. 1 Senior Pathwords Partner December 16, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    As a paesano, I was expecting this story to end with a hearty helping of chicken cacciatore…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 91 other subscribers
December 2008

Recent Comments

Debra Cupani on Where Am I?
nycactress on Where Am I?
Robin Sheridan on Where Am I?
HaHaRiki on Where Am I?
Serena Day on Where Am I?

Blog Stats

  • 215,691 hits

%d bloggers like this: