I knew this was a bad idea. I mean, when you’ve got a student production written by two 19 year olds that were drunk when they had the idea for the play, you know in your heart that it’s going to be a mess.
Then, when those two cast themselves in the leads and there is no one around to reign them in, well, you can’t really say no to them.
Yes of course I can get you a real fully iced cake to trash on stage every night. With sprinkles? Um, well okay. Oh you want to foam at the mouth? And use sprite and aspirin to do it? Well okay.
I’m just the stage manager, I don’t really get a say. Oh theres no fight director? But you want to throw chairs at each other? Oh this will not end well.
It’s the fourth performance in a six show run of the first production I’ve even stage managed. I’m in college and I’m still trying to decide whether or not I want to be in working in theatre. Richard and Cody wrote a really interesting yet insane play.
They play the leads, and it’s about 40 minutes before the show. This show has a cast of 6 and most of the time, they are all on stage. I’m mostly there backstage to handle quick changes, props, and traffic. As we don’t have tech on this show, no one is in the booth to call it.
It’s just me.
35 minutes before the show and Cody stumbles in, late as usual. He doesn’t look too hot. He checks in with me, collapses into a chair, and promptly throws up everywhere. Great. Now I get to clean puke out of the green room floor. I go over and check on him. He has a fever and he looks like road kill. This isn’t going to work.
I grab Richard and ask if he wants to cancel. It’s his baby so it’s his call. He grabs the cast together and we sit and brainstorm. Can anyone cover Cody’s roles? Well he never gets his lines right anyway, so you’d just have to ad-lib for the most part. Can we cut Phil? Could we just nix his part entirely and have him cover Cody’s lines. Thank goodness the show is only 30 minutes long. Okay this might work, but Phil has that one line. It’s a cue line. We can’t cut that.
How do we handle this?
And thats when everyone looks at me. You can run on and say that line, then run off right? In your blacks, it’ll be fine. It’s just one line. Oh please no. I don’t want to. 20 minutes to show time. Okay Cody, please stop throwing up!
He’s not getting any better.
This is a Stage Managers worst nightmare. To continue a show while throwing someone into a part they’ve never played, and then having to actually step on stage yourself and give a cue line.
The show starts. Phil rocks it out in Cody’s part (Cody is still throwing up in the dressing room, but Phil is consulting with him about blocking and lines as we go). I’m frantically trying to keep track of Phil, make sure Richard has his props, check on Marlana and make sure she doesn’t miss her entrance and then, oh crap here I go.
Mad dash on stage ” The ratings are going crazy! The public loves these guys!”. And off stage I run again, collapsing against the stage left wing wall. I look at my hands, they are shaking. Oh god I did that. People saw me. I spoke lines. How did I not fall over? What the heck was I thinking when I signed on to do this play? Oh no. Cody is throwing up again. Let me find his bucket.
Tools of the Trade