Archive for July, 2009

Summer Is A Bummer

There’s a thing about being an actress that happens a lot. You can’t wait to get a job. And then when you get a job, you can’t wait until it’s over. And then when it’s over you’re afraid you’ll never get another job.

This is my current state of mind. Add the fact that it is the depths of summer and NO ONE is calling me to audition. I have gone from CRANKY ACTRESS to CRAZY ACTRESS.

I almost agreed to go to Philadelphia for an audition for an Indy film. Not just Philadelphia, but some scary place called Jenkintown. So I would be doing approximately 5 hours of round trip of traveling for the CHANCE of a role.

My first tip off was when my husband answered the phone and a guy said, “Ah, um, is this an actor?” It was the director. He didn’t know who he was calling. But I still was gonna go. It was a total desperation move.

And who was I gonna meet when I got there? Freddy with the mask? Is there a crazy man inviting actresses to come and audition in obscure towns in Pennsylvania? Are the actresses never seen again? Does Freddy tell them before he kills them, “Look, you had a chance to use your head. You could have refused to come to Jenkintown. But you came of your own free will. You did. You came. You traveled five hours for an audition. What kind of idiot does that? You are so stupid you deserve to die.”

I didn’t tell anyone because I knew they would tell me I was nuts.   I only told a very close friend. She said, “Ah, Cranky if you need to get out of the house that bad why don’t you go to the beach?”

Doing a play where the script had MAJOR problems is torture. But not doing anything is WORSE TORTURE. So today I donated five pairs of shoes to housing works, rearranged my closet, hand washed all the hand wash, and checked Facebook where people posted videos of funny pets doing funny things and are playing Bejeweled Blitz. And now I’m thinking maybe I SHOULD go to Jenkintown.

Cast Pictures Anyone?

Had a performance last night with the FACHADICK COMPANY. They asked the actors to be ready and dressed in costume by 5:30pm so they could take cast pictures. So I would have to get there at 4:30pm to put on makeup and squeeze into my skintight gown and then sit around until 7pm with the spaghetti straps boring into my shoulders. And then do the show. Do the SHOW. After hanging around in my costume for two and a half hours before the show.

The director said, “These pictures are for you people! We’re doing this for you.” Oh really? Really? They’re for me? Just what I always wanted! Pictures of myself with the FACHADICK COMPANY that I can look at for the rest of my life and reminisce about my mini nervous breakdown at the Westway Diner. So my answer was, “Too busy, can’t make it.”

I walked into the theater at 6pm yesterday and everyone was sitting around the stage and in the audience. I ask the director, “Are you done with the pictures already?” “Ah, no,” he says, “the photographer never showed up.” Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. I got that wonderful feeling inside, when you trusted your gut and you were right. Etta, my husband’s grandmother would have said I was QVELLING. Yes, yes, I was QVELLING inside.

Then he said, “But he might show up, so if you want to hurry and get your dress on you can get in the pictures.” Cranky had no intention of hurrying. Cranky just gave him a blank stare. When he didn’t show up for tech he lost his director status in my mind. So I go to the powder room. And when I come back the stage manager says to the director, “Did you tell Cranky the photographer isn’t coming so she doesn’t have to hurry?”

We had a very kind audience. They were laughing, laughing, laughing. You gotta love that. During the performance a couple of us were hanging out on the fire escape stairs waiting for our entrances and two people from the show in the theater two floors above came walking down the stairs. They went right to the entrance to the stage and mouthed, “Is this the bathroom?”

Was Cranky tempted to say yes.nWould it have hurt the play if two strangers wandered onstage? We will never know because Cranky did the right thing and directed them to fly hallway, where now half the lights are burned out, so you can’t see the flies coming.

Opening Night Horrors

So opening night arrives. Or should I call it opening day? Because we have to be at the theater at 2pm to do our one and only tech and our one and only speed through on the actual stage before the curtain’s up.

I take the subway there and a person sitting opposite me on the train is reading “The Secrets of Mental Health.” I don’t know about you, but if I were reading that, I’d be putting a plain brown cover on that puppy. And if I had known what I was in for later, I would have her asked if I could borrow it.

I arrive at the theater. The cast is sitting around in the audience. The lead guy who is also the set builder is in an Italian t-shirt in a sweaty frenzy placing furniture on the stage and hammering supports to hold a door in place.

The stage manager is already having a meltdown. “THERE’S NO ONE HERE TO SHOW ME THE LIGHT BOARD! IT WAS IN MY CONTRACT THAT SOMEONE WOULD BE HERE WITH ME! THERE IS NO ONE HERE. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WORK THIS THING?” This is a show with like a million telephone ring cues. And a blackout.

So far the director is a no show. I repeat. The director is a NO SHOW!!

The stage manager comes down from the light booth. She lies in the floor in yogic child pose. “Can someone go and get me a beer? And don’t talk to me for the next hour.” A beer? Is that gonna help her figure out the light board?”

I’ve been here ten minutes and am asking myself, “WHY WHY WHY?”

Something looks weird to me about the stage. I go and sit in the audience and realize what it is. If you sit on the right side of the audience you cannot see the right side of the stage. The door has been placed downstage and almost in the center on a perfect angle to block all the action stage left. As luck would have it most of my action takes place stage left. No one has thought about sight lines. But you cannot be wielding a hammer and checking sight lines at the same time. This is where a director who SHOWS UP comes in handy. I am now thinking they need to change the name of the company to the FACHADICK COMPANY.

I ask Mr. Hammer, “Would you come over her for a minute?” He comes and sits next to me. “You can’t see half the stage,” I tell him. “Hmmm,” he says, “maybe we can move the furniture around a little.” Yeah, maybe if we tip the whole stage and all the furniture slides over to one side everything will work out perfectly.

“That’s not gonna help,” I say, “Most of my action takes place on that side of the stage. If you don’t care, I don’t either.” “Well, you’re in the play so you should be seen,” he says. Duh.

After a little back and forth with the ingénue who delivers two lines from the other side of the door and wants the audience to see her two lines, Italian t-shirt makes the call. “Well, most of the action happens on the stage, so I think we should see the stage,” he says.

We get to the speed through and I am like rattled, tired and tense so I blank TWICE. I mean like totally blank. I could have stood there for an hour and the line wouldn’t have come to me. This is some scary shit. We are opening in 90 minutes.

On my little break I go to the Westway Diner on Eighth Avenue. I sit in the booth. I put my head in my hands and say OUT LOUD, “Dear God Please Help Me!” And I am alone. I am alone and talking to myself. But Eighth Avenue is full of crazies so nobody cares. This is what the FACHADICK COMPANY has driven me to. I order soup. I can’t eat it. I order eggs. I figure it’s two mouthfuls and you get a lot of protein.

As I walk back to the theater I hear the death march in my head. DAH DAH DAH DUM DAH DAH DAH DAH DUM…

I go up to the dressing room. It is up two flights of fire escape stairs. The bathroom is in the basement. You have to walk down fly hallway to get there. Big flies, little flies, all kinda flies must be batted from your face to get to the toilet.

The dressing room isn’t air-conditioned. It is stifling and the ingénue asks that the fan be turned off because she has to flat iron her hair. I just love putting makeup on and then watching it melt off my face.

We begin. My first entrance I feel like and empty shell in sandal heels. “Pull it together,” I tell myself. I start getting it together. Then there is a scene when I am sitting on a loveseat and other cast members enter. The ingénue comes on and stands directly in front of me with her ass in my face. Her butt is literally an inch from my face. I have a choice. I can move and look like an actress who is aware of being upstaged, or I can stay. But I have to deliver a line. If I stay where I am and deliver my line is it gonna look like the ingénue is doing ventriloquism with her butt? To stay or to go? I stay and opt for the talking butt.

We get through it without any mishaps.

When I get to the theater the next day, the lead guy tells me he was out drinking until 4am. So when we do the show, he gets his lines twisted. For example, he is supposed to say, “What do you want?” And I answer, “What does anyone want? Sex, Love, etc…” But instead, his hangover leads him to say, “What can I do for you?” So I have to reply, “What could you do for me? What do I want? What does anyone want, etc…..”

But he IS a member of the FACHADICK COMPANY and they have to work hard to stay fachadick. He’s handsome and talented, but being a member of a company that just spews out plays that no one cares about hasn’t done him any favors. And I’m sure after the many years he has been doing theater it takes work to remain fachadick. But determined to be fachadick he is.