Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"All the World's a Stage" Story #4

I don't believe in ghosts, spirits, vampires, witches, warlocks, and all such ethereal beings; but I do believe in gremlins....theater gremlins!

A gremlin (at least, in my definition) exists only within the confines of any "stage" upon which actors "play".  They are puckish little imps, who pop out of some hidden cave deep in the caverns of "backstage" at some point during the run of every show!   They delight in creating minor havoc at one or more times during  the most inconvenient times....during a performance when said actors are on stage and right in the middle of the highpoint of their performance!  Always!

Oh, and there are two other conditions that usually exist when the little guys  create their "Gotcha" moment.  One or both of these conditions are almost always true.  The gremlins come out in force when:

1)  It is the very last and final performance of the show before it all disappears forever, never to be seen again;  and/or

2)  A video recording (for Archive and teaching  purposes only--ahem) is being made at that performance and will not be done again.   So that the only record of the show will forever more include whatever mischief these imps come up with!

I do want to make it clear, I'm not talking about the disasters that sometimes occur on stage.  No blood, no collapsing walls, furniture, or actors!  No, what I mean is the little something that never, ever happened before, and rattles the actors a bit, throwing off everyone's timing, or just plain embarrassing the cast.

These kinds of things happen for no explainable reason, except the Gremlins are loose again!  To wit:

I was in Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit", a wonderful show about ghosts.  I was playing the medium, Madame Arcati (one of my favorite roles ever!)  All thru the run, every performance ran like clockwork with all the "ghostie" things happening without a hitch.  Until....(duhn, duhn, duhn) the final performance when the video was being made!  The camera was rolling and the little things began to happen:

* someone was late for an entrance, so we had to ad lib a bit to fill some time.
* a table that usually levitated smoothly, made a rather bumpy ascent and descent.
* one of the "ghost" actors, briefly got her costume caught on the edge of a set piece

(So you see what I mean?  Just enough to unsettle everyone.)

During the middle of her "seance", Madame Arcati screams,  falls to the floor in a dead faint, and the lights go "out" (lights "out" on stage is a relative term)   She remains there, in clear view of the audience, but unseen by the actors while there is a lot of other stuff going on.  I had choreographed my fall so that it looked very natural and believable, but I was actually moving sideways to a sofa, that I fell on and then slid gracefully to the floor.  A very controlled movement that kept me from breaking my neck! 

Went perfectly EVERY performance!  Always in control, looking good! 

Well, not that night, because the gremlins were there.

When the moment arrived, I screamed and started my fall.  For whatever reason, I hit the sofa at the wrong angle and down I went, faster than a speeding bullet, flat on my back, with my head hitting the floor with an audible clunk.  It was not a stage fall, but a real fall.  I was "unconscious" so there was nothing I could do to break the fall, except hope for the best.  I didn't break my neck, or start bleeding, and I wasn't at all injured, so the audience didn't realize anything had happened.  Not too bad, huh?  Nothing to be upset about, right?  So why was I upset??

When I started the fall, the different angle did something that caused my skirt to slide up, and up, and up....till it was practically around my waist.  I could feel it, the audience could see it, the other actors could see it, but there wasn't a thing anyone could do but let me lie there flashing my "dainties" at the world for what seemed like an eternity, until I was "found" by the sweet man playing the doctor. During his examination he pulled the errant skirt back down a bit, so that I was no longer X-rated!  Nevertheless, it is saved forever on videotape!   Oh crap!!

If you look closely I think you can actually see the little gremlins laughing and pointing at me from the back of the sofa!   I'm pretty sure those creepy little thugs pushed me!!!

That wasn't the only time I was their target either!  Come back tomorrow, and I'll tell you about me and Nelson Eddy!!


  1. Ha ha--great story! I remember having to be careful in my skirt when I "fainted" in The Mousetrap. I guess the Gremlins liked me because it was always okay.

  2. Hahahahahaha!!!! Yes, you are right!
    Gremlins do exist in theater -- weird senses of humor, they have.

    And you and Nelson Eddy? Do you have an alter ego as Jeanette MacDonald? You've piqued my curiosity for sure!

  3. I used to work backstage in a small theater in Tucson and there are always a lot of these "gremlin" stories. Sometimes very unnerving!

    While I don't believe in ghosts, I do believe in time bandits - you know the little guys who move your watch so you can't find it and then there it is in the middle of the table! Now THEY'RE real!

  4. LOL. Mellodee...I can't stop laughing.

  5. Oh how funny! I'm glad you didn't suffer any injuries, but I'm sure your undies added a lot to that show! Great post. laurie


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