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Tuesday, 20 July
Lies, Damnable Lies, And Theater

Rehearsals continue apace for my upcoming show Red Noses, which is being played outdoors at a local park; to this end, we have occasionally been meeting to rehearse on site outdoors. Such as yesterday, when we met for a casual four hours of actorly horseplay (or, given that the actors are vocally competing with overflying planes, childrens' birthday parties, and roaming packs of feral dogs, "hoarseplay").

The weather was intermittently overcast during the afternoon rehearsal, with temperatures soaring into the high 70s, which, by Seattle standards, is roughly equivalent to an industrial kiln. It doesn't help either that Seattle residents tend towards the fishbelly-white part of the body spectrum, at least amongst its Caucasian population, but it's also worth noting that one of our black actors also promptly burned horribly. Seattle likes to think of itself as diverse, but in reality, living here actually promotes physiognomic changes that tend towards the whitest of white. In fifty years, every Seattle resident will look like Jonathan Pryce, and will behave like the terrified children in The Others.

As the rehearsal began, I and the other actors and I lolled about bonelessly under the beating sun, wanly smoking cigarettes while our imperious, Teutonic director strode about waving his arms madly at the park scenery and emitting clipped commands to nonexistent assistants: "Zat tree is NOT GUT! Ve must strike zat tree! STRIKE IT!" He stared wildly around at nobody. "GOTT! Ze fringe theater, she is a mangy bitch. I haff nobody to verk vitt here," he noted morosely. He noticed a small refugee from the adjacent childrens' birthday party lurking about the periphery of our "stage," staring with wonder; despite the incredible heat, the child wore a full-body Spider-Man suit, replete with rubber mask. It must have felt like wearing scuba gear into a sauna. S. (the director) tried to recruit the poor little fool: "YOU! DER SPINNE-MANN!" S. screamed lustily, "Remove ze tree! You haff powers!" The little Spider-Tyke ran away fearfully into his mother's arms, clearly disturbed. S. swiveled his neck around at the rest of the park, apparently scanning for any other 3 1/2-foot-tall superheroes that might be lurking nearby to help with tree removal, but sadly, nobody like Kapitan Amerika or Wunder Frau showed up to help S.'s set-logging needs.

At this point, the actress playing "Flagellant 2" burst into flames, sending an impressive column of flame into the sky as she howled piteously. The unlucky actress had been seen earlier applying pure forty-weight motor oil to her nearly pearlescent skin in an attempt to stave off this incendiary result, but to no avail, and she burned like a flare while S. jumped up and down in apoplexy. "NO! NO! NEIN! ZEE FLAGELLANT, SHE BURNS!" The rest of us knew better than to try and move; we were being relentlessly beset by angry swarms of photons, and any false move could be our last. I idly mourned the woman while also pondering what kind of project I had gotten involved in that required the presence of multiple Flagellants. Then I passed out briefly and experienced strange dreams about dogs licking my heart until I was revived by the wife dribbling cool water onto my cracked lips.

"Wake up," she whispered. "I don't want to die alone." That's always what you want to hear. In fact, that's how she wakes me up every morning: with some horrifyingly dire implication, or a diabolical Situationist brainwallop. For instance, this morning, she viciously jabbed me in the lower spine with a salad fork. "That's how meningitis feels," she cooed. Or last week, when she convincingly bellowed, "EEL ATTACK!" and then dumped a box of moldy banana peels on me.

In the end, obviously, we (the wife and I) somehow endured the day, while others succumbed to violent heatstroke, dehydration, or the dreaded Estonian Cellular Die-Off, which claimed our unfortunate "Mr. Dibble," the character who rather improbably dispensed homespun wisdom over a cedar fence. The last did not concern S. too much: "I don't get ziss fucking play at all. Go home. I must drink now!" He shook his head. "I need much brandy. Zo many dead actors. And yet you scheisse-narren remain!" We hung our scorched heads, brooding.

Fringe theater, when you get down to it, is a real fucking drag. Long live fringe theater.


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Comments

Thanks for making me laugh my ass off. Just what I needed on this terrible, terrible day in the office...

Carlo

Comment number: 003606   Posted by: Carlo on July 20, 2004 03:15 AM from IP: 193.28.194.12

"Brainwallop" is my new favorite word.

Comment number: 003607   Posted by: Craig on July 20, 2004 07:00 AM from IP: 68.76.89.54

EEL ATTACK!

So fucking doing that to someone.

Comment number: 003608   Posted by: Shawn on July 20, 2004 09:12 AM from IP: 209.233.130.252

"Wake up," she whispered. "I don't want to die alone." Laughed out loud.

Comment number: 003609   Posted by: rachel on July 20, 2004 09:49 AM from IP: 64.12.117.9

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