Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Testimonial ‘Bout with Stage Fright


Typically don't elate on celebrating my shortcomings. Especially not this grranimal. And please don't try to look the word up. I can tell you ahead of your troubles, it's not there, even if it should be. Just pronounce it like it reads. 'GRRR…Ran…Nimal!'

At any rate, after reading Larry Kane's Philadelphia memoir I feel up to entertaining a storytelling mood... recalling the letter I wrote him decades ago, inviting him, and his Action News crew, to come see a play I'd written. I still can't believe it, but he wrote back! One coo-coo flown over the moon I've been in awe of him before, and ever since. But God Be the Glory and thank Heaven sent, he politely declined. Turned out, that particular play fell through.

But this one didn't! Oh Larry, St. John, Peter and Paul... I wrote another play and this time it was on!

First, I must defend myself. I was always writing plays and gathering our neighborhood friends to put on these little acts. We once even pulled off a neighborhood talent show. Went off without a hitch. Don't recall a single glitch. Based on that event I would've never known stage fright existed as two words in the dictionary.  

But okay... so I've held you up long enough with the antics. On to the story...

I wrote the damn play! Okay!?! Me. Myself. And I. I knew the material back and forth, which really... it wasn't like there was much to remember. The story of my ancestors had been engrained in me ever since I could remember. And like please! We were only going to be performing before a church! Church people are the nicest people. They won't laugh at you, mock you, and ridicule you off stage. They are holy people.   

All that mustard... and beef, and yet here's what happened:

As I rehearsed the play with my sister, I recall my father, who of all civilities happened to be a toastmaster, telling me I needed to take the rehearsal seriously. But you know me. Yes, once upon a time I was a wildflower, not bad however, but recklessly silly, rarely taking much seriously. A part of this I now estimate had to do with having no idea stage fright was even two words.

Got to the church, all geared up, and happy as a silly lark, to be ushered into a dressing room where our faces were all made up... still no fear... and where we were wrapped in floral bedding, the attire I selected for our costumes... still a cheesing and grinning, actually gloating before a mirror about how so darn pretty I was all made up. Ooo... I felt glamorous. I'll never forget that moment, me thinking about how after the play I was going to start wearing red lipstick.

The pastor's wife came and retrieved us from the dressing room. We were about to go on stage, which to reach the stage we had to climb a mountain of stairs to enter from the back. We got about halfway up the stairs when the pastor's wife suddenly turned around and asked, "oh, how do you want the lighting?"

I thought, lighting? Ut oh... and thus the first nerve bubble hit me. With a blank face I listened to her explain how the lighting worked. Either I could have it all dark on stage, and the audience light, or vice versa... thus the second nerve bubble nearly folded me over and flipped me back the other way, back down the stairs... somersaulting bedding, lipstick, me and all right over my sister's head.

"Can you make it dark on both the stage and audience," I actually begged.

Even my sister shrieked, "No!" Of course that would be ridiculous. And so here's where I'm jumping off the end of this ride to cower behind the many trainings and classes I've taken to deal with this grranimal.

Another habit of mines, whenever I bump into grranimals as such, I study it furiously... and seriously. And yes too, having now commandeered the most of this extrapolating beast, I foresee another book on its way... opening with the conviction, 'when assignments were being handed out... I think I got the pen, and someone else took the microphone.' But one thing I can assuredly promise, when I start stroking that page, I will be unharnessing one stray green grranimal I looked in the eye and fought, directly from experience!

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