20 August 2005

Hamlet was my undoing: Part II

(part I)

"How about LA Story?" I suggested.

"It was really good..."


"...I'd see it again. Really," Jake finished.

I should've believed him. When I finally saw it on video a few years later, I cursed myself for trying to be so accommodating: LA Story would've been the perfect chaser to our Hamlet experience. Instead we settled on The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. Jake kind of laughed when the gynecologist eased his glove off pre-exam; I avoided watching most of the uncomfortable scene. A molesting gynecologist intro does not a date movie make, if we were even on a date. He was still trying to pay for everything, but otherwise we were just friends.

With spring came the spring play, Noel Coward's Hayfever. There wasn't a role suited to me, so I wasn't cast. This had always meant relegation to the tech crew, or at best becoming the stage manager, if I still wanted to participate. Several of my performer friends were seniors: this was my last chance to work with them, but stage managing held no allure. Fortunately, the director was ready to try something new: she offered me an assistant director position. I would help her out, be another pair of eyes at rehearsals, and even work with the actors on my own. I was nervous. She was only 24, but that was enough to separate her from us; they would listen to her. I told her I'd do my best.

Even though I was directing, I still participated in the warm-ups, voice classes, and other theater exercises. Hayfever included several romantic entanglements, so it was important the cast feel comfortable with each other. Not all the actors would have to kiss, but we all had to go through the almost kiss exercise. In boy-girl pairs, we were supposed to move in as close as possible as if to kiss; knowing there would be no kiss was supposed to help us feel more comfortable in close proximity. The director would call, "Switch," and we'd turn away and change partners.

I was pleased to find I wasn't the most self-conscious person there. I could trust in the rules of the exercise, but some of the guys couldn't. One started to pull back when we were a foot apart, and another was so twitchy I couldn't get within three feet of him. With Jake, there was no pulling back. The slightest lean forward would accomplish the task, but then he turned his head and walked away. It was time to switch again.


(names changed to suit my whims)


  1. Oh man. That sounds like the funnest class ever.

    I remember I did Midsummer Night's Dream in 10th grade just so I could be Hermia and kiss this guy John. He played guitar.

    It was so worth it...

  2. I really loved those experiences (except for the awful stagefright). It was very cool because a local theater company sent their professional actors to direct plays at schools all over the county. Since it was off-season for them, we had access to all their costumes and props. And they were a very cool bunch.

    Being driven to give deeper performances was often emotionally draining, but very rewarding.