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Would Rather Walk Into Mordor Than Do That Again

, , , , , , | Learning | January 25, 2018

(I have an anxiety disorder, but I am moderately all right with performing on stage, as I have learned to look over the heads of the people and at the back wall. I am a big fan of “The Hobbit,” so when my co-op decides to put on a play of the book, I try out. I end up getting the role of Gandalf, which pleases me, as he is my favorite character and I act very much like him in real life, even though I am female. Halfway through the year, we perform a scene at a performance held twice every year. The stage is much smaller than the one we have been practicing on, and there was only one rehearsal on the smaller stage, which I missed due to sickness. Since I play one of the mains, I show up to the performance, and the director tells me what to do, vaguely, while gesturing at the stage. I begin to panic, but I figure that since Gandalf only has two lines in this scene, I’ll be okay. Five minutes to the performance, as I am watching one of my close friends sing, the stage manager grabs me from the audience and pulls me to the lobby to add more stress to my life. Note: this is the first time I have been in a play.)

Stage Manager: “So, [Assistant] and I were thinking that at the end, when you lead the dwarves off the stage—”

Me: “I lead the dwarves off the stage?”

Stage Manager: “Oh, yeah, totally.” *pause* “Did [Director] not tell you?”

Me: “No!”

Stage Manager: *waving me off* “Eh, you’ll be fine. Anyway, you have to lead everyone off the stage, and then we were thinking that instead of going into the audience, that you should curve around the stage, crouch and stay there, wait for [Bilbo] and [Gollum] to get done with their scene, and then stand up and bow.”

(I freak out a little, but I again assume I’ll be fine. It seems easy enough, and I don’t panic that much until she says this:)

Stage Manager: *with hand on my shoulder* “Just don’t mess this up, hon. If you mess this up, nobody will want to come to the actual play. We’re counting on you.”

(She claps me on the back and walks away. THAT is when I start to panic. We are called to get ready, and I go to get Gandalf’s cape. This is the conversation I have with the costume designer.)

Costume Designer: *blinking at me* “Oh, [My Name]! Why are you here?”

Me: “I’m… here to get my cape?”

Costume Designer: “But you’re not in this scene, sweetie!”

Me: “Yes, I am. Ask [Director].”

(She checks with the director and then comes back, looking rather sheepish.)

Costume Designer: “Oh, sorry. I didn’t remember, because, you know, Gandalf isn’t really all that important. Here, wear this.”

(She hands me what appears to be the kind of cape that a princess would wear, but at this point, I’m panicking too much to care. I’m also feeling rather downtrodden, as she has made it seem like I, and the character I am so proud to play, are worthless. To put the cherry on the crappy ice cream sundae, I hear the stage manager, her assistant, and the director talking.)

Stage Manager: “So, [My Name] is going to do what we talked about. Hope she doesn’t mess it up.”

Assistant: “I don’t think she will, but if she does, the scene will be screwed.”

Director: “I wonder how she’ll even do on stage. I mean, she’s a good actor and everything, but she’s so d*** shy that I don’t think she’ll do the best.”

Assistant: “Good actor? Really? From what I’ve seen, she has the acting skill of a five-year-old.”

Stage Manager: “No, she’s a good actor. Bad human being, good actor. I mean, who acts like that? I can understand why she doesn’t have any friends.”

(Their conversation ends and I am nearly in tears. We get on stage, and I do all right with my first line. I look down to the floor around the stage as I am sitting before the battle, to plot out how I am going to get us all through the tight space we are given. I see the stage manager.)

Stage Manager: *mouthing* “Don’t. Mess. Up.”

(Everything goes to hell after that. I end up saying my other line too early, because I can’t see the action that is my cue, as my glasses were taken from me so I’d look more “Gandalfy.” I start to panic as I see the assistant gesturing wildly at the stage manager, and I forget the instructions I have received and end up crouching at the bottom of the stage without leading everyone around. This isn’t too horrible, and we don’t look bad, but the stage manager starts gesturing at me and mouthing, “Go, go!” while the director shakes her head from next to her. I do nothing, listening to the director. The scene ends, we bow, and then we exit into the lobby where the stage manager storms up to me.)

Stage Manager: “I can’t believe you! You messed up the entire d*** scene! You’re going to ruin this entire play, aren’t you?”

(She stormed off and I saw the assistant glaring at me. I ended up in the parking lot next to the building, alone, having a panic attack. I also ended up throwing up in the bathroom. Later, as I left, still trembling, I saw the director chewing the assistant and the stage manager two new a**h***s. Even though justice had been served, I still felt horrible. I am still in the play, but I have decided something: I am going to play the hell out of my awesome character, even if it’s the last thing I do.)