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June 28, 2005

Eat shit

This week, by happenstance, I am filling in for the deck manager on the California Shakespeare Festival's production of "Othello."

This means:
I'm dressed in an ill-fitting soldiers uniform,
complete with a beret, a gun belt,
and a pair of shoes easily 3 sizes to large.
(my predecessor is a boy, with large feet)

My job involves:
Cleaning blood off the stage at intermission,
carrying around tables and chairs,
moving light trees back and forth as fast as I can,
and, most notably, trying to place(set) and strike(remove)
an incredibly awkward large brown leather armchair
...which weighs about 65-70 lbs.

Tonight, my first night in costume,
I prepare for the dreaded chair move
(my first onstage entrance of the evening).
I get the thing hoisted onto my shoulder
with all the strength and grace I can muster,
and begin speed-walking from stage right,
the Duke in tow behind me.

I get about 6 steps into the maneuver,
-just far enough to be right in the middle things-
I trip over my ridiculous clown shoes,
and I eat shit.

Down go I, and the chair, in a heap.
I let a four letter word fly on my descent
(which was thankfully inaudible).

Amidst gasps from the audience and worried looks
from the actors witness to my swan song,
I scramble back up,
and use my newfound endorphins-
born completely of public humiliation-
to (with superhero-like might, I'll add)
throw this fucking chair over my shoulder,
get it to it's mark on the stage,
and get the hell out of there.

Totally humiliating.
*This* is why I am not an actor.
This is the kind of thing I don't want to have happening to me.

Posted by kati at June 28, 2005 09:29 PM


Oh man. I feel for you. There was one time I was doing stage crew for "Into the Woods", and I had to fill in opening the trapdoor, to facilitate the witch's smoke-filled disappearance in the next scene. I think I was even subbing for this guy, and doing a far worse job. Anyway, I had to remove a piece of stage, and had trouble getting it out at first. I finally did, but in my haste to get back to the wings, I stepped right into the hole I'd made.

I lucked out and caught myself before I fell all the way into the orchestra pit. I think Ashley nearly had a heart attack watching me barely catch myself, and drag myself out of the hole. The cast saw it, the crew saw it, and the audience couldn't have missed it. I too felt a surge of adrenaline, allowing me to heave myself up and dash off stage quickly, and escape my humiliation. At the time I thought, "This is why I am not a tech", actually, though I'm sure I'm also a danger to my own life while acting as well.

Posted by: sean at June 29, 2005 12:14 AM

i totally remember when that happened Sean, we thought you were gonna die, i think that was the first time I saw Ash panic.

Then there was the time during the other Into the Woods production when we were manipulating the tower/tree and somehow, i still don't know how, it started to fall over WITH Emily inside it. As I remember it Nick Doan saved the day but i can still hear the gasp from the audience. that was when i realized i was better off working at the stage manager table where i couldn't accidentally kill the actors with large set pieces.

Posted by: adrienne at June 29, 2005 09:41 AM

2 brief fall-related anecdotes from last night:

Claire, the house manager at the theatre (who has known me since I was like 10, incidentally) overheard a couple of girls at intermission talking about my fall. They said I turned instantly crimson with embarassment.
Claire pipes in, "That was Kati. She blushed very easy."

When recounting this story to my stage manager, Ritz, she just said, "Oh God yeah. You were beet red. Almost purple really. It was hysterical."

Luckily for me though, all the people amused by my red face were equally impressed with the 'She-Ra Princess of Power'-esque strength that I harnessed after the fall to pick the chair back up and go on.

Posted by: kati at June 30, 2005 10:32 AM

that's blushes, not blushed.

Posted by: kati at June 30, 2005 10:32 AM

walk it off, sweetie

Posted by: alan at July 1, 2005 10:45 PM

Just some two cents worth of recent history:
During a scene change into "Crapshooter's Ballet" in our production of GUYS & DOLLS, I aid in carrying a large board onstage to place on two sawhorses so miraculous feats of a dancing nature can be executed off said board. Neat stuff - really.
Anyhoo, I was running up the downstage-left vom steps, back of the board in tote, when my shoe caught the edge of the stage and I too "ate shit"
Oh I ate such shit!
We have a thrust stage so my ass was in the air a mere four feet from the closest patron.


Posted by: Mike at July 2, 2005 06:04 PM

I wanted to tell my own embarrassing stagehand story to demonstrate solidarity but realized I have never been a stagehand. So I'll just reference Dustin's by now well-known embarrassing stage story and remind you that as bad as you might feel, at least no one saw your vagina.

Posted by: didofoot at July 2, 2005 06:07 PM