A Harmless Necessary Chicken

, , , , , | Working | September 25, 2020

I was inspired by this story to recount my own encounter with unwitting stage fauna.

Some years ago, I was in a summer production of The Merry Wives of Windsor in an outdoor venue. This venue was near a pond and had various birds wandering about. This included a few chickens and roosters.

In a particular scene, a washing basket was onstage at the beginning of a scene. As the actors went about the scene, they noticed they were getting more laughs than usual but thought nothing more than how responsive the audience was. As they got closer to the climax of the scene, they were getting more and more laughs and titters, so they amped up their energy.

In the climax of the scene, Falstaff had to hide in a panic and threw himself into the washing basket…

…to be encountered with a face full of enraged chicken, whose nice cosy resting spot had been disturbed by an actor almost landing on her. Apparently, the hen had been poking her head out of the basket, enjoying the show, to the amusement of the audience, without the actors noticing. The poor chicken took flight, squawking, through the audience, emptying herself on the actor as a final act of revenge. After a momentary pause, during which everyone attempted to pull themselves together, the show resumed. Poor Falstaff had to have a quick costume change.

Related:
A Harmless Necessary Cat


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