We are an amateur theatre troupe, but we perform in a 500-seat theatre with a full fly tower. We could fit a circus rig in here. We could, but we won't. What we will do is make people laugh, make them laugh and laugh until their eyes leak tears, until they walk out with their faces sore from laughing so hard.
We are an amateur theatre troupe, but we try not to be amateurish. We read scripts in the basement at the local newspaper office, after hours, hashing out what we want to do and what our audience wants to see. We rehearse upstairs at the municipal recycling depot, in a room where there's always a faint odour of dirty bottles and a closet full of composters shaped like giant Darth Vader helmets. We pace in the hallways, muttering lines. We muff our entrances and miss our cues and mess up our lines and mug so much the director has to tell us to dial it down a notch. It seems hopeless, and there's always a moment where we think the show is going to fall apart. And then it clicks, and suddenly he nails that monologue, holding us spellbound even though we've heard it a thousand times already, and she gets across the pathos under the humour in her character, and I really go for it in the slapstick moments, bruises on my ass be damned. And it works
The months of rehearsals, rolling in uncaffienated on Saturday mornings, staying late on Tuesday nights, lead us to this. The set gets built in a hurry. We only have two days in the space. There's a flurry of hammers and plywood and foam sculpting and paint. Who's got gold curtains? The arm's fallen off the dummy again. Does the volunteer fire department own a Santa suit we could borrow? Why do we do
We do this for the moment, backstage, when the curtain goes up. I stand a little too close to him in the darkness, elbows touching surreptitiously. Then the audience laughs for the first time, they get it
, and we smile at each other, adrenalin surging. I step away to become my character, ready to go on and earn my own laughter. The stage is better than any drug I've ever tried, better than anything you can do with your clothes on and a lot of what you can do with them off.
We do this for how it feels when it works, for the energy we'll have when we come off stage on opening night, for the sheer joyful high of it. Even when it goes wrong and the audience laughs at a dreadful thirty second pause where no one can remember what happens next. We'll hug backstage on closing night, already thinking about the next production.
Are you hooked? I asked him after his first show, the one where we kissed endlessly and awkwardly for the director, long before we kissed for real, are you hooked? Yes, he said, I'm hooked.
______caile is going to dress rehearsal tonight. She is sessile and unprofessional, but she has been inspired by many of whipchick's entries about life on the road as a performer.