Friday, August 04, 2006

Sometimes the flubs are the best part.

More on the hidden joys of authorship: J.T. Ellison has a great post on stage fright up on Murderati today, and is asking for authors' most humiliating moments.

Well, where do you even start?

But my actual response surprised me.

The supreme embarrassing moment of my life was on stage. I was in a really spectacular and unique production of ONDINE, playing the Queen and other roles, and there was a royal court scene that the whole cast could never, ever get through without collapsing into hysterical laughter. A lot of this was because of the King, Reed Martin, a brilliant comedian who every rehearsal went out of his way to find new ways to make the rest of us break.

But of course you always somehow pull it together for opening night, and we did a week of performances without a hitch. And then - one night when the King rose grandly from his throne, one of the pearls from his ermine robe caught on the mesh train of my gown. And as he started walking downstage, both our robes rose like the wings of giant swans.

Well, the courtiers almost lost it. The audience totally lost it. But hey, we were professionals, or aspiring, anyway, and the courtiers got hold of themselves and somehow Reed and I did a little shimmy and two-step to get unhooked, shooting each other marital looks of annoyance, and we resumed the scene.

And it happened again. Same pearl, same mesh, same swan wings.

It was pandemonium. We could not stop laughing. Literally. Could. Not. Stop. I know from this moment what it means to be rolling on the floor laughing, because half of the actors on stage were. I was doubled over on my throne, laughing my guts out. The King was collapsed in my lap. The audience was shrieking. We could hear the director out in the house just wailing with laughter. It went on for minutes, which on stage is eternity. I don't know how we finally pulled ourselves together, but somehow we did. And after the show I have never had so many people thank me for the best laugh of their lives.

Now, you may be thinking - "But that's not embarrassing, that's priceless." Well, yeah - it was. But for us, the actors, at the moment - it was the most humiliating thing that had ever happened to us. It's perception, right? We were so worried about doing it RIGHT that we almost missed the moment of transcendence. And it was such a huge catharsis that I've never really been embarrassed by anything since.

An audience loves to see that you're human, and that mistakes are just a part of life. Laugh about it and they'll be laughing with you.

Sometimes the flubs are the best part.

1 comment:

JT Ellison said...

Hidden joys my ass...
I'm waiting for those. I think they hide under the skirts of the historical writers.
XO, and thanks for the great story at Murderati. Wow, what an experience! I'd love to see that play.