Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

I lay in bed the night before the big day, trying to get some sleep. When Christine had asked me to participate in WWSS5, I had of course, being the girl who can't say a challenge that is... jumped at the idea. But now that the reality was staring me in the face all I could think was "what had I gotten myself into?" Would the writer saddle me with 8 million props? Would the actors be able to learn their lines in a matter of hours? Would I find a spot somewhere in the city on the forecast to be rainy day where we could rehearse? And, of course, the most daunting thought of all - would my alarm actually wake me up at 8:00 on a Saturday morning???? The horror of it all!

Despite all the odds, I did manage to haul myself out of bed at that ungodly hour and navigate the obnoxiously rerouted MTA to the Beckmann. Fending off the diabolically evil morning person it appeared my friend and fellow director Nina had proven to be, I waited for Christine to let us in. I sat in the Beckmann, listening to the chatter of the sleep deprived writers discuss their scripts. One in particular was mentioning alcohol induced delusions about animal impregnation. What had I gotten myself into????

Christine babbled rules that I probably should have been paying attention to if my brain was actually working at that hour, then the drawing for scripts began. I pulled a name out of a hat. My writer was named Oliver, and he had to write a show about ghost whisperers and Chinese New Year. I look up, and who should I see but the animal sex guy! Okay, I am a professional. I can handle this. We say hello, wander over to the spiral stair case and just jump into reading the script. Scientists trying to get pandas to mate. Clever. Page two, an obscure riff on The Muppet Movie. Okay, maybe I like this guy. I mean, sure the line makes no sense with what the character turns out to be, but who doesn't appreciate an old school Jim Henson shout out? End of the script. Possession and hot panda/human loving... okay... maybe I stayed out drinking too late night the before. I mean, I must be drunk because this script is making me laugh out loud. And hey! No props! And the writer has secured us rehearsal space all afternoon for free! Yup, never mind the whole bestiality angle, this guy is now officially my favorite person in the world.

So it's time to wrangle up my cast and head on out. (Please hot guy... please hot guy... damn! I could be the mother, or at any rate very older sister to the only guy in my cast. Sigh. Oh well, guess it's a day to be professional...) We've got a couple hours until our rehearsal space is technically available, and I truly believe my head will explode if I don't get caffeine into my system in the next ten seconds, so we head on over to Starbucks for a read through. After a quick delay in which I try to determine how many extra shots of vanilla I would need the barista to put in my mocha chino in order to make it an alcoholic beverage we get to work. The cast reads the script. They seem okay with it. The poor girl who gets raped (off stage, thank god) by the panda actually comments that this is not her first experience being molested by an animal in a show. Oh, and did I mention that the writer wants her to be in a bikini and straw hat? And that he wrote the part for her because she is a contortionist? Have I said "what was I thinking?" yet?

Next stop, rehearsal space! Following a train ride with a very aromatic homeless man we trek on over to the East Village rehearsal spot. We check in with the guy in charge, and he leads us down to the rehearsal space. This is a rather round about route through the theatre, down the back stairs, past the prop storage... you see, it seems that some vagrant junkies have been sneaking in through the front stairs, going down to the bathroom and shooting up. And really, how often do you want to have to clean up used syringes and blood splattered walls. (I swear to you, this is a real story, not an exaggeration. The guy was very non-chalant about it too, which filled me with such confidence in my safety!)The rehearsal went very well. One of my actors mentioned that the year before his director had them read through the script, run it once, and then said "you're on your own, I'm going to find costumes!" Boy were they in for a different experience today! By now I have managed to shake off the morning malaise that had been clouding my brain and get down to work. I obnoxiously threw blocking at them, and bless the poor things they took it all in like little sponges. I think it may have been the freezing temperature in the space we were using, but my actors got everything down amazingly fast. Three hours down and they were staged, off book (mostly) and raring to go.

By now we were all a little loopy. One of my fabulous actresses had arranged for us to borrow lab coats from the Bodies exhibit where she worked, so we had all moseyed down to the South Street Seaport. We inhaled Subway sandwiches, which apparently contain narcotics based on the way we were all acting. The lines were coming, though, and it was time to head back to the theatre for tech.

We got through almost all of the show in tech, and all my actors were audible from the back of the house, so I was content. Christine called all the shows into the theatre for one last pep talk/rule session and announced that our show had sent the most interesting text messages throughout the day. Whoo hoo! Go potential hepatitis/HIV!!! (Have I mentioned I'm highly competitive?) I bid a final adieu to my cast, told them to be fabulous, and headed into the theatre to watch the show.

I have to say, it was an impressive evening. The combination of creativity and depravity on the part of everyone involved filled me with a happy glow. Obviously, I had found a place where I would fit right in! Tamara did a wonderful job moving us from show to show. Anyone who can get that much mileage out of her fathers sex life is tops in my book! I ended up watching both sets, although I do admit that during the second go round of ours I tended to spend most of the time watching my Chinese descended actresses parents watch her playing a raging bigot who wanted to destroy the Chinese government. Now THAT's theatre!

Finally, two shows over it was time to award the prizes. Some of them were no brainers - Nina was so creative with the use of the rubber gloves (oh yeah, I forgot to mention those... oh well, some other time,) that to give the award for that to anyone else would have been criminal. But the 2 big prizes, best script and best show, were the last ones to go. Yes!!! My insane drunken hallucinating writer won best script! Obviously the audiences had eaten the same laced Subway sandwiches as we had! And then Best Show - us again!!! Not only was the audience stoned, they were apparently insane as well! But who cares! We win!!! Go Team Panda!!! Go Bestiality!!! Yay "fabulous" baby bib and autographed Hooters menu!!! I will cherish these prizes for the rest of my life, or at least until the next time I clean my apartment!!!

Now did someone say alcohol?


  1. You mean seeing me hungover in my unwashed pajamas talking about how I wrote my entire script totally inebriated didn't make a good first impression?

    What did you expect me to do, bathe?

  2. Yeah Oliver! That's two for two in the Best Script department. Maybe someday I'll finish my blog entry about our fall escapades.

  3. Are you kidding? PERFECT first impression! Writers are supposed to be a slovenly lot. If you took time to bathe that would be time away from the boozing... er, I mean writing...

  4. What? You did all that AND got to see the Bodies exhibit? You're amazing! love, tamara