Ever wondered what it’s like to use one of those truck runaway ramps you see on major roads over the mountains? The ones with about 100 yards of gravel designed to stop a speeding semi whose brakes have failed in, well, less than 100 yards?
Well, become an actor and you can get the same effect. Many statistical analyses — well, OK, it’s happened to me and it’s happened to several actors I’ve spoken to — have shown that there will always be at least one dress rehearsal where everything goes wrong and you run out of time before you run out of play. It’s as if you were purring along nicely when, Wham!, you’re all of a sudden brought to an abrupt stop, seatbelts straining.
Ours was Tuesday evening. Oh boy, oh boy. It seemed that if it could go wrong it would. It was also the evening when we started using a special effect, one that I’d rather let you see than describe. Of course, since it was the first time it had been used properly, it goes without saying that didn’t work very well (it was much better last night though). Props got left on stage during a scene change. Scrooge’s bed, which is on some mega-castors, acquired a mind of its own and went wherever it wanted to, rather than where it was being pushed. Flies came in too fast and thudded to the ground. Some flies seemed to have lost the markers on the ropes and just kept on coming in. Someone moved the Christmas tree from where I’d checked it earlier, meaning I came off stage to get it and… where the heck was it now? I also nearly managed to trip over the power cable to one of the foggers in my stilts, which might have brought a rapid end to my dreams of being a Ghost of Christmas Present, to put it mildly.
Murphy was truly alive and kicking on the stage that evening.
Yesterday’s rehearsal, on the other hand, was much, much better. For the first time, I felt almost comfortable in my role, which augurs very well for opening night tomorrow. It may sound weird, but for me the putting on of a costume means the putting on of the character as well. It’s as if the character is there in the fibers somehow. Prior to last night, the Ghost wasn’t quite there yet for me, but last night, he seemed to have woven himself in the green robe. I/he was fairly prancing around the stage on those stilts and there was no time when I felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
Tonight is preview night for an invited audience; tomorrow night, opening. This is going to be one great show.
Ghost of Christmas Present