Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is that Cookie Monster under my skirt?

Yesterday we danced and sang through our last performance of Scrooge! And now comes the inevitable post-play letdown. I'm going to miss the sweet hugs from the little girls in the cast, the crazy girl talk in the dressing room, the many cookie innuendos--both intended and not*--the outings after rehearsals and performances.** I could have done one more weekend of shows before I got tired of it, but that would have meant a matinee on Christmas day. Even Scrooge wouldn't approve of that.

It's such a privilege to perform in a play. Again I'm grateful for the new friends I made and for the friendships that deepened over the weeks. Again, I've come away with my heart full of cookies love for this amazing community that has taken me in over the past year. Oh, I sound so smoochy and mushy and moist, don't I? Bah! Humbug! I need to write about something that will lighten my heart. I need to......I know! I'll share a little behind the scenes secret, with photos .... of my ass.

Theater is all about magic. It's smoke and mirrors and tape and paint and screws. Sets are made out of paper or plywood and painted to look like real buildings and walls. Props may not be what they appear to be. For "Master Harold" ... and the boys, Harold had to throw a brandy bottle and break it. Of course the theater board wouldn't let him throw a real bottle, and stage bottles made of sugar "glass" are expensive, so we used a plastic bottle painted brown and a crash bucket (a lidded 5-gallon bucket half full of broken glass). The actor was supposed to throw the bottle through a doorway that led offstage. Somebody was supposed to catch the bottle while I made a glass-breaking sound with the crash bucket. It took several nights of experimentation to get it right. The first night the cork popped out and brown paint sprayed all over the floor and me. The next night, one of our fixes included white glue in the bottle, and the same thing happened only with glue. The night after that, I got a mouthful of kitty litter, white glue and brown paint when the bottle exploded in my face. The final night, the bottle simply dropped to the floor and imploded, like a giant hand had crushed it. But every night the audience heard that bottle break after the actor threw it into a wall.

It's a lot of illusion. The blood isn't real, nor is the booze in our cups. Sometimes our costumes are taped or pinned on; some we buy at Goodwill or a Halloween store or drag out of a grandmother's attic. We wear wigs and makeup to change our age or to make us look sick or crazy or dead.  And some of us are wearing things under our costumes nobody in the audience would ever imagine. Fortunately for you, my dear readers, I snapped off a few photos backstage of people's crotches to show you what you're missing when you're sitting in front of the stage.

Here's what Scrooge wore under his nightgown--and under his business suit in the first few acts of the play. Marley seems to like what he sees.

I promised I wouldn't show his face, but he didn't trust me. Or he just likes to pull his gown up over his head. I'm not sure.

One of the problems actors, especially women, struggle with is finding a secure place to put the battery packs for their mics. I didn't have to worry about a mic for this show, because I'm a loudmouth redhead used to talking to the back of a big room full of college students. And I was singing soprano with two other women. When we hit the long, high B flat at the end of the curtain call, dogs from the outlying suburbs showed up howling at the door of the theater and had to be beaten off with sticks. I definitely didn't need a mic. But most of the other women did. Some hooked them to the back of their bras; others put them on their waistbands. But the most secure place to put one is ..... Why don't I just show you with photos.

Wearing to to the side

Packin' it vertical in the red-light distric

The audience never knew these proper Dickensian ladies were packing electronics in their crotches, unless they looked close enough and caught a glimpse of a red light winking from between modest thighs under a light-colored gown. They also didn't know what I was wearing under my plain, brown skirt.

One of my fellow lady cast members didn't want my crotch to feel left out, so she bought me something I could wear under my skirt, something that would make my crotch glow with good will and cookies!

Me want cookie!
This is the one and only photo of my ass you'll ever see. Ever. ***

I could give many more examples of the behind-the-scenes magic of the theater, but I don't want to give away too many secrets. I would hate to think you're looking at the actors' crotches throughout the entire performance ruin your next play by causing you to wonder what's real and what's not up there on the stage. Because the truth is, it's all real--both what goes on in front of the audience and what goes on behind the stage. We all see what we want to see, and we all want to believe in happy endings.

So my suggestion is this: If you want a happy ending, forget the Christmas pudding and the stuffed roast goose, and don't look too hard behind the curtain. Just eat cookies! Cookies!

* I have so many cookie stories from this show. And yet, here I am still waiting for my cookie. I'm sure I'll get it someday. Some people are just slower than others, and they have to take the long, rocky path to get where they're going. I can wait.
** Frankly, the eating out and partying afterwards is making me fat. No amount of singing and dancing will work off bar food several nights a week. And a few of my fellow cast members gifted me with cookies. Real cookies. The kind you bake and eat. I'll be forcing myself to the gym next week to work those off my ass.
*** There's no telling what I might do for a cookie though.


  1. Just out of curiosity. . .why does your theatre not use mic belts?

  2. I'm not sure. Cost maybe? Most community theaters are operating on pennies and good will.

  3. Didn't your show have a Crotchit family?

    Thank you for sharing your assets...

  4. LOL The crotchits were too poor to eat cookies.

    As for my assets, I believe I might have changed the kerning on those boxers just a bit.

  5. After a while, onstage starts to seem more real than offstage. Then the play ends. :(

    I love the cookie monster shorts!

  6. It's true. Once the lines, songs, and dances are locked in and natural, it does seem real. It takes me a while to get out of character after a show.

    I love the cookie monster shorts too. They're so comfortable, I'll probably wear them even when I'm not on stage.

  7. I think you should wear the shorts every chance you get. They're awesome.

    If your theatre doesn't use mic belts because of cost, I'd be happy to make and donate a set to it. If it's for some other reason (every theatre has a different culture, and possibly you don't use them because some sound guy doesn't like them) never mind. I'll just be over in the corner thinking about cookies.

  8. Lese, that would be wonderful. I did some detective work and found out the reason we didn't use the belts is because they were deemed too nasty to use one more time. The sound guy would have loved to offer them but new ones weren't in the budget.

    So the answer is, yes! What are you doing over there in the corner....oh, I see. Well, when you're done thinking about cookies, you can send me an email at reticulatedwriter@gmail.com.

    Thank you! What a generous offer. :-)