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.