I haven’t done theater in a while and I totally forgot about the horrors of opening night.
It started two days ago when I realized it was close. We were still looking at our scripts and calling “LINE!” I was still grasping for when to enter and what line to say when I did enter.
I started having trouble sleeping. First, I had the super install the air conditioners. Then I had him come back the next day and switch them because I felt the den one was quieter then the bedroom one. Then I couldn’t sleep because I thought that one was too noisy. By the next morning I was in a state of nervous apoplexy and felt like my life depended on getting a new air conditioner immediately. If I didn’t get one I would get no sleep, totally screw up onstage, get a bad review and morbidly embarrass the nice guy who recommended me for the role.
This is a nervous transference thing that happens sometimes. My husband does the same thing. He once had a presentation the next day and became fixated that the medicine cabinet was going to fall off the wall. “We have to take everything out of the medicine cabinet!” He yelled. “It’s going to fall off the wall! I better remove the door off its hinges!” I knew what was really off its hinges, but I went along with it. After the presentation, the medicine cabinet was OK. So was my husband.
In my crazed state I got a friend from around the corner to go to J and R with me to buy one and a neighbor down the hall to help me put it in. I got the neighborhood involved. I couldn’t ask the super again because he already thought I was completely nuts. “Cranky come on!” he said when he had to switch them.
So after the air conditioner fixation there was nothing else to obsess about.
Then my acting teacher called me. “I understand you open tomorrow. How’s it going?” he said. This is a man who teaches at a university, teaches private classes and just lost his wife and is about to go to Europe (“Blow the country” is how he put it) to scatter his wife’s ashes in the Seine. And he remembered to call me the day before I open in a little show on 45th Street. I am crying as I write this. Cranky may be cranky, but she is also extremely sentimental.
He talked to me about my character and how rehearsals have been going. “THEY’VE DONE NO SCENE WORK AT ALL!” I said, “All we’ve done is run the play from beginning to end.”
“Ah,” he said, “these people don’t know what they are doing. You have huge resources to draw on. You’re intelligent. You can work it out.” He calmed me down.
I love him. I love my Mr. Inscrutable. Someday, I will be directed by someone like him. I hope I hope. Then my life will be complete.
At the end of the conversation, I told him how he has been in my thoughts since he lost his wife and I started blubbering. The minute he heard the hint of a sniffle the got the hell off the phone. “Ah, I gotta go,” he said. No blubbering for Mr. Inscrutable. Oh no.