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This is a question On the stage

Too shy to ever appear on stage myself, I still hung around theatres like a bad smell when I was younger - lighting and set design were what I was good at.

Backstage we'd attempt to sabotage every production - us lighting geeks would wind up the sound man by putting the remote "pause" button for his reel-to-reel tape machine on his chair, so when he sat down it'd start running, ruining his cues. Actors would do scenes out of order to make our lives hell. It was great and I don't know why I don't still do it.

Tell us your stories of life on the stage.

(, Fri 2 Dec 2005, 11:02)
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This question is now closed.

Freudian Slip
Earlier this year, we were doing "Annie": I played President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Because there weren't enough men in the cast, FDR's Cabinet had lots of women, including the most alluring sexpot of the entire group, who took on the role of Louis Howe, Roosevelt's campaign advisor (redubbed as Lois Howe).

When I introduced Annie to the Cabinet, I was supposed to say, "and this is Lois Howe, my friend and aide." Instead, what I said was "and this is Lois Howe, my friend and companion."

I clenched my teeth even tighter on the cigarette holder and grimaced as the laughter rolled in from the audience.
(, Mon 5 Dec 2005, 7:35, Reply)
i don't do drama...
but my sister has always been heavily involved...

she used to perform in a local youth theatre group and one performance, in particular, sticks in my mind...

it was something to do with greek mythology i think, or some such bollocks - agamemnon.

the director was a pretentious luvvie, who actually detested children and had no time for any of their oppinions or ideas. so when one day he announced that the entire cast would be hanging off one of the scafolding towers for part of the play, no one dared mention that it would only support a maximum of 8people.

all went well in rehearsals and finally the opening night was upon them all. there was one last rehearsal in the morning, to make sure that everything was perfect for the evening's performance. (you can see where this is going, can't you...) everything was going perfectly, until the scene where the cast had to hang off the tower. now 20-odd teens hanging off a 20ft tower, that strictly states no more than 8 at a time is asking for trouble! add to that the fact that they all had to be wailing and swinging themselves about whilst on it and you're heading for a disaster...

oh, what a disaster is was! the tower fell backwards complete with the, now screaming, actors and crashed to the ground. those on the lower levels (including my sister), were relatively unharmed, but about half the cast had to be rushed to hospital - broken bones, concusion, serious head injuries, etc.

what could the director do!? phone around and let people know that it was cancelled? refund the money to the people who had bought tickets? phone the parents of those who were now in casualty?!? no. he did what any hard labouring director would have done and pressed on with the performance, with about half of the remaining cast!

it was one of the weirdest plays i have ever been to see. it made no sence, as many scenes had to be cut, due to lack of consious people left to perform it. many were crucial to the plot and alot of the audience walked out.

the best bit was at the end where one of the actors had a solo speech and had looked a bit woozy throughout the play anyway. she walked towards the front of the stage, made to start her speech, threw up into the audience, passed out and was promptly rushed off to hospital to get her head looked at.

i was the only person clapping at the end, much to the consternation of the rest of the audience!
(, Mon 5 Dec 2005, 5:31, Reply)
Casual Acting Camp
One summer my aunt enrolled me in several day camp type things for about a week. One of them was a sort of acting camp of nebulous goal.

The best part was learning how to do "Stage violence"!

For that exercise I played the part of a psychotic mother who attacks a babysitter: I slapped my partner, dragged her across the floor, slammed her head into the wall and then the floor. Fun!

Unfortunately I never got the chance to use these skills during my performance art classes.
(, Mon 5 Dec 2005, 3:20, Reply)
wizard of oz
at school, i got to choose what role i wanted in the wizard of oz, so i chose.....


i'm a lazy fucker
(, Mon 5 Dec 2005, 3:20, Reply)
Death of a Salesman
That was the only play I ever saw in high school, mainly 'cause I liked the guy playing Willy Loman but also because we'd seen another Arthur Miller play (All My Sons) earlier that year.

The play itself was pretty good, if you could get over the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Loman were Asian, their sons Biff and Happy was black and white, respectively, and the shady, hallucinogenic Uncle character was Hispanic.

Also, due to my friend's already enccentric nature I got the impression that poor Willy had very serious mental issues.
(, Mon 5 Dec 2005, 3:14, Reply)
Luckily I didn't have any boobs yet
Well, when I was in the fifth grade, the ribbon holding up the top of my ballet costume broke on stage and I had to dance offstage holding it up so the teacher could tie it back together. But the audience thought it was part of the dance cause I didn't act like anything was wrong, I just danced very calmly on my toes right offstage, got it fixed, then danced back on.

In high school, I tried out for the school play and I was so bad they made me the director.
That is all.
(, Mon 5 Dec 2005, 3:09, Reply)
I saw a play once
It was shit.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 23:45, Reply)
Being a mildly thespy musician, I have a few of these
Two of the most notable ones happened in the same play.

I'd managed to land the role of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate factory in the last year of primary school. Everything was fine in the rehersals. However, When it came to the actual performance I fell off the fucking stage. And it really hurt.

I managed to resurrect it, somehow, only to make a rather unusual Freudian slip for a pre-pubescent. I was supposed to say 'we shall have to hope for the best' following the sad demise of Augustus Gloop (ironically played by a very thin person with a cushion down their jumper), or somesuch, but I replaced the word 'best' with the much more titillating idea of 'breast'. Not everyone was impressed with an eleven year old Willy Wonka revealing his love of lady lumps to the whole school.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 23:24, Reply)
Playing Wilfrid in Yeomen of the Guard
I was in a play once, and I had to be on stage, opposite someone singing the following song, which is very quick, and with which he had a lot of trouble:

Oh! a private buffoon is a light-hearted loon,
If you listen to popular rumour;
From morning to night he's so joyous and bright,
And he bubbles with wit and good humour!
He's so quaint and so terse,
Both in prose and in verse;
Yet though people forgive his transgression,
There are one or two rules that all family fools
Must observe, if they love their profession.
There are one or two rules,
Half-a-dozen, maybe,
That all family fools,
Of whatever degree,
Must observe if they love their profession.

If you wish to succeed as a jester, you'll need
To consider each person's auricular:
What is all right for B would quite scandalize C
(For C is so very particular);
And D may be dull, and E's very thick skull
Is as empty of brains as a ladle;
While F is F sharp, and will cry with a carp,
That he's known your best joke from his cradle!
When your humour they flout,
You can't let yourself go;
And it does put you out
When a person says, "Oh!
I have known that old joke from my cradle!"

If your master is surly, from getting up early
(And tempers are short in the morning),
An inopportune joke is enough to provoke
Him to give you, at once, a month's warning.
Then if you refrain, he is at you again,
For he likes to get value for money:
He'll ask then and there, with an insolent stare,
"If you know that you're paid to be funny?"
It adds to the tasks
Of a merryman's place,
When your principal asks,
With a scowl on his face,
If you know that you're paid to be funny?

Comes a Bishop, maybe, or a solemn D.D.--
Oh, beware of his anger provoking!
Better not pull his hair--
Don't stick pins in his chair;
He won't understand practical joking.
If the jests that you crack have an orthodox smack,
You may get a bland smile from these sages;
But should it, by chance, be imported from France,
Half-a-crown is stopped out of your wages!
It's a general rule,
Tho' your zeal it may quench,
If the Family Fool
Makes a joke that's too French,
Half-a-crown is stopped out of his wages!

Though your head it may rack with a bilious attack,
And your senses with toothache you're losing,
And you're mopy and flat--
they don't fine you for that
If you're properly quaint and amusing!
Though your wife ran away with a soldier that day,
And took with her your trifle of money;
Bless your heart, they don't mind--
they're exceedingly kind--
They don't blame you--as long as you're funny!
It's a comfort to feel
If your partner should flit,
Though you suffer a deal,
They don't mind it a bit--
They don't blame you--so long as you're funny!

One night, he substituted several lines with, "erm... and things that are bad and bad and tralalala..." before managing to pick up the real words again.

On the last night, he finished it, for once, without mucking it up. I said, "sorry, could you run that past me again", the orchestra struck up, and he thought he'd have to sing it again.

Well, I found it funny.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 22:16, Reply)
I can remember doing 'A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra' by Britten in the County Youth Orchestra, where every single instrument has a solo bit to play. Cue Double Basses being semi-tones out, even after one whole year of rehearsal *cringes*

Feel lucky you ain't in Russia! The dig Double Bassists like we dig Viola players.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 22:15, Reply)
Santy Clause
When I was maybe 6 or 7 we had a christmas play to put on. Being the only fat kid in class I was of course pegged to play Santa by other kids and the teacher... bastards... I just wanted to be a cardboard box robot like my friends.

Also in high school I was a sound guy for Godzilla: The Musical, which included me sitting right at the front of the stage with a microphone. Play involved uniformed asian schoolgirls, very nice view from the front of the stage with those short skirts.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 20:14, Reply)
i am in a play right now
well not an actor persay but 3rd trombone in the orchestra. it still sort of counts as bieng an actor.

hahaha i have a better trombone than the 2nd trombone. and i have a bigger.........
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 20:11, Reply)
i'm such a drama queen
i love school plays - the more cheesy they are, the better.

last year we did the campest version of sweeny todd ever...

and the year before that we did "dracula spectacular", in which i was one of three american students.
we three students were on stage throughout but each of us had one line that that we just kept repeating.
mine was "i like it, know what i mean?" in the worst american accent you've ever heard.
I was chuffed to bits.
I got to sing a solo.
I was absolutely shit.
and i even forgot my line at one point.

this year we're doing "dazzle" and i'm a gun wielding lara croft physco - i like it, know what i mean?
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 19:39, Reply)
Not much in the way of anecdotes ...
In fact, I can only remember being on stage once (although I was up there several times during junior school - I've blanked my mind of the rest). It was a musical about the plight of the Yanomamo, a native Brazilian tribe.

Anyway ... I was fortunate enough to be the only percussionist. And singing in the choir. And a lumberjack. A dancing lumberjack, in fact. This little set of parts meant that I had three different outfits to wear, and had to get changed approximately every 10 minutes throughout the performance. I also got to wear yellow trousers ... mmm. I thought they were ace at the time. I was about 8.

I was bloody knackered by the end of it, but there were very good comments made about the quality of the percussion. Nobody mentioned the lumberjacks.

Interesting note, though; in one of the rehearsals, not one, but two different choir members fainted and plummeted from the top row of the stand. There were 2 ambulances called, and bleach required to get the blood stains out of the stage and set. That particular rehearsal was cancelled.

edit: Balue, I too play the double bass. Or rather, I used to. I quit when the school made me play classical stuff instead of jazz and blues :( I really ought to take it up again ...
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 19:32, Reply)
I can sooooo top you.

I play double bass! =O
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 19:19, Reply)
A secondary school production of some play or other,
I think it might have been Orpheus in the Underworld but I'm really not sure after all this time. Anyway, the drama teacher obviously knew talent when he saw it; I ended up landing a role that had me at the front of the stage for an entire scene.

As a lightswitch.

No, sorry, half a lightswitch. My twin brother played the other half.
Needless to say I never volunteered for another production.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 18:37, Reply)
I havnt played it in 4 years
Had to get on with college work so stopped going to orchestra.
Soon after I quit the orchestera my good mate there who was a cellist was killed in a car accident.

Might force my kids to play it in the future
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 18:03, Reply)
You should have posted in last weeks QOTW for being a viola player! Shame on you! Me, I'm just a humble Cellist stuck with the bass lines.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 17:29, Reply)
Never did any plays
Because the schools I went to hardly did them (Whenever I was in one, I was understudy for the main role but never got my chance part from some rehersals). Instead I was stuck in orchestras and choirs.

Worst senario I had was the last christmas music concert I did at school. I played in the string orchestra as 1 of 2 viola players. As I was tuning up on stage before starting to play, one of my highest strings snapped and I had to play a few hard peices (including a quartet piece) in 2nd possition which I didt very well somehow.

The same night, my sisters friend, who sang very well, was doing a solo. Sitting with the orchestra I notices my sister and then my mum were intears of stopping themselves laughing.
I found out later, on the break, that my sister was playing with a made stressball borght that night (balloon filled with flour) and it had burst, exploding over herself, her friend, my mum, and 3 of her teachers sat infront of her.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 17:00, Reply)
The blackness
I can trump all of these "I played a tree" or "I played a cow" stories.

In second year junior school I played . . .

A patch of darkness.

Oh yes. Myself and 4 or 5 others dressed entirely in black with black face paint on a dimly lit stage.

I don't think the headmaster liked me.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 16:48, Reply)
Im the greatest dancer!
In 1990 Christmas there was a big ballet and dance do on this massive stage. This was the time that my sister and I did ballet (I hated it, prefered to draw instead) and were included in this concert thing which was all about the 4 seasons. I was 5-6 at the time and had to be an easter chick dancing with others like me and bunnies. I remember at the time having the bright lights shining in my eyes on that huge stage and telling the others what to do.
I look at the video we borght later now and Im just gorping and plodering along as good as the rest of them. My sister recently pointed out she had no clue what she was doing for one of the dances (she did 3) and on close inspection, her mates were dragging heround like a hopeless case.

Wern't the shittest act though, some silly 3-5 year olds did patticake and 'once i causght a fish alive'. Well thats what they were supossed to do, my video clearly shows most of the boys punching or hitting each other with their fishng rods.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 16:45, Reply)
away in a manger
at this local christmas do when I was about 5, I got up and sang "away in a manger" in a sickly sweet manner. old ladies still reminded me of it up until we moved away when I was 12.

I also came very close to being michael jackson in a local kids drama club version of thriller, purely ue to the fact that I can roll my eyes so the pupils are hidden, but I chucked a sickie on the day of the show.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 16:27, Reply)
Moo neigh
I have had a long and illustrious stage career. I have played a horse, the front end of a cow (how they marvelled at our cow dance) and a sheep.

But the best experiences have got to be Matinee performances. Typically they have no audience. Also typically, all the actors and crew have been up till 5am out on the piss on the Friday night. Things I have learnt on matinee performances include:

-Gargling with whisky does not help your voice.
-A sound engineer asleep on the desk may be marginally better than no engineer.
-It is funny when there is a person hiding in a trunk onstage where there is supposed to be no person.

Oh, and I was in a production of Twelfth Night as the second officer (3 lines, yay me) and dressed like Polly Page from The Bill, complete with blonde bob... my truncheon had a squeak in it as we found out on stage by mistake. This was hilarious at an inopportune point and as the play was totally insane it just added to the ineptness of it all.

Oh, and in one play I died 5 times in 7 pages... and had to pole dance dressed as a medieval wench. Good times.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 16:16, Reply)
So many...
The one that comes to mind first of all is one that will most likely tell a lot of people who I am. Fucksocks. When I was about 10, our school did a version of the Wizard of Oz where instead of being killed by being melted by water, the witch falls into a cauldron of shrinking potion she prepared for Dorothy. Being a small kid our music teacher (evil bitch) collared me on the stairs and asked me if I'd play the witch after she crawls out of the cauldron of doom, to be chucked back in it again. As well as being one of the munchkins. Typecasting, much. Being young and naive, I agreed.

Big mistake. I left the school when I was 18 after doing other small things in school productions and the only thing anyone remembers me for is that damn cauldron, because I apparently 'stole the show' - by screwing up every night, tripping over, breaking stuff, that sort of thing. Not for having to wear my awful bridesmaid's dress again to be a munchkin and sing in a stupidly high voice. I sympathise so much with typecast actors. And I still hate stage make-up.

For some reason in primary school I played a dog that gets soup poured on it and has to howl. I can't remember for the life of me why that was.

I was a shepherd about three years in a row in primary school and got the same line every year "Let's go and find that baby!".

I always wanted to be Mary, but for some weird reason it's always the little blonde kid who gets to be Mary. I did finally get to do it when I was 11 but it was a weird nativity where I just had to sit and try to look angelic and didn't have any lines. So that defeated the object really.

Other random parts included being Mr Small in a play about the Mr Men (I hate teachers who are put in charge of casting), a Highland dancer in a very weird nativity, and being the only one in my year at not to get a part in Oliver!. I hated school.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 15:52, Reply)
White Lines...
Twas 1984 and the support band at a local gig for rap group Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five cancelled at short notice.
Promoter calls me (a low profile but locally available community radio mixing DJ) and asks me to do fill in for the band and to bring my own decks/mixer setup. Cool, I can rub shoulders with the big boys from NYC thinks I.
Then it turns out that DJ Flash had actually split from the group and it was a rather arrogant replacement who proceeded to lecture me on what I could and couldn’t spin. "Don’t you be spinning no Herbie Hancock 'Rockin’ It' – I’m playing that tune". (Twat – it’s called 'Rockit' and I'll play whatever I like.)

Anyway, my 90 minute set went down rather well and Grandmaster Flash (not) & The Furious Five came on and were appalling – a really cheesy show much like you would expect from a reformed Village People. Their DJ was no 'Grandmaster' either so I came off looking even better by comparison. The crowd would have been several thousand and I did quite well out of the exposure I got.

Lead rapper Melle Mel was right up his own ass and I quickly figured out what Kama Kaze Kid was sniffing backstage...kinda ironic considering they were promoting their anti cocaine song "White Lines (Don't Do It)".
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 15:24, Reply)
Oh sweet satire.
There was this one time when I did this one thing, but nobody thought I'd be able to do this thing and I still managed to do this thing because I'm awesome and then everybody else thought that I was awesome, just because I did this thing.

That was awesome.
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 13:40, Reply)
Not sure if i have any anecdotes
But Ive been on stage a few times...
After being threatened by a few people to audition for the school production in my last year of comprehensive, I landed the role of The wizard of Oz. This meant I got to be wheeled around the stage in a giant box by stage crew while inside i could pull levers to control arms and a head on this thing, which was fun. But apparently, shoulder length dark hair just inst an Oz thing, so I had to have my hair clipped and sprayed in place then hidden under a hat. So I left the theatre a few times with my hair making a giant wave shape above my head once id taken the clips out...
My part in my drama GCSE consisted of a pillow fight during the song "These are a few of my favorite things", a handshake with about 10 stages, and forgetting my monologue in a showcase evening..also fun..
And for some reason in primary school i remember being part of a backdrop made up of a few years worth of pupils all wearing those russian hats for the nativety play..
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 13:39, Reply)
He's Behind You!
Back at uni I did a module working in a TV studio under a rather nazi director by the name of Jay McCulloch. After constant abuse and public humiliations at his hands (god forbid someone learning would make a mistake) I decided on a little petty revenge.

This was the reason why, half way through the final run-through before broadcast, everyone's headsets and earpieces crackled into life. Sitting in the gallery I put on my best 'shop-assistant-over-the-tannoy' voice and spoke thusly: "Jay McCulloch's pants to laundry. Jay McCulloch's pants to laundry please." Everyone on set suddenly creased up and I, putting my hands behind my head, leaned back and basked in the glow of my small victory. Sadly on leaning back I bumped into someone. Sure enough, on turning round, it was Jay who had slipped quietly back into the gallery unnoticed and was now glowering at me in a 'you've just failed this module' kind of a way.

(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 11:57, Reply)
We're All Going on a (pumpernickel) Summer Holiday!
In my last year of school, we did Summer Holiday. The lead (Cliff's part, I forget the character name) was told by one of the music staff that he would buy him a pint if he could include the word "pumpernickel" in the play 3 times. He did it - the audience didn't realise, but all of us on stage were trying hard not to crack up for each of the 3 times he said it... especially with the howls of laughter from the musicians in the band!
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 11:30, Reply)
My life in Art........
I was 15, playing various things in the schools production of "Oh What A Lovely War" , a wierd choice, but thanks to a lefty arty drama teacher a very anti war and "right on" production.
Anyway, a girl called Rachel was playing opposite me in a couple of scenes, and airliebird was soon head over heels in love. (Looking back, she had a voice like a 50 a day smoking docker and was very haughty, but I was smitten), Anyhoo,come performance night we were all walking towards the stage from the clssroom we had spent the interval in, someone had pushed open a pair of double doors. I was walking behind Rachel and she was talking to her mate and hadn't noticed the doors swinging shut towards her head. Me, being valiant (and in fact dressed as a British Army Captain complete with handlebar moustache) leaps forward to protect the object of my desire. She turns, see the doors, flinches backwards and headbutts me straight in the mouth. My top two front teeth go straight through my bottom lip and blood is all over my uniform.
The teacher says "Oh dear, thats unfortunate, but use the pain, use the difficulty, its an injury you got in battle, USE it!"

SO, I go on stage, look at Rachel and say "shorry nurshe, theshe men have been gashhhed, they are blind." and covered her in blood and saliva. The end of a blossoming relationship, but the beginning of a life long obsession with the stage. The Audience gave me a standing ovation, as they has seen me in the first half talk normally and then come out after the interval and give a veritable John Hurt-like performance.
My Drama teacher was in tears. She told me that she saw the blood and i BECAME that captain for her. I was in fucking tears too as I ended up in casualty. I needed stitches and still have two lumps in my lower lip. I suffered for my art!
(, Sun 4 Dec 2005, 6:05, Reply)

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