Sunday, March 9, 2008

Marching On

Okay, the break's over and I have GOT to recommit to "THE PROJECT". It's become an all caps thing, I have met with my first defeat of the process, I did not get the photos done last month. I got them kind of sorted into boxes, the boxes labeled, the neglected film developed and I bought a digital camera to avoid this happening again but that was it. However, I did get the clothing sorted, folded and a purge was done. At least all the clothes in the house currently fit the owner or are packed neatly away until Charlie grows. This month, I'm going to tackle the basement (my seasonal items are one big scrambled mess) and weeding through our movies, music and books. March has also traditionally been the month for community theater productions (gotta get on stage before the participating farmer types go into the field).

Community theater is such a funny world unto itself, anyone who has seen "Waiting For Guffman" (and if you haven't, I highly recommend) can relate. There are those involved who take the whole thing FAR too seriously, those who see it as a purely social occasion and the rest of us. We're going to do our darndest to put on a good show but we also have no delusions about our talent. We know that our singing sounds best at the highest possible volume and only after several shots of courage. We're aware that our acting skills are never going to pay the bills. We comprehend that the set only looks like what it's supposed to look like from a good distance away and then only when you tilt your head the right way while slightly closing your left eye. I do love the rehearsals, all cast members are never all there on any given night, so people are invariably darting from spot to spot and frequently having conversations with themselves. The director and assorted cast members' children are usually tapped to fill in, my kid knows almost everyone's lines by opening night.

Costuming a community theater production poses its own set of challenges. We try to stay away from period productions, mainly because finding hoop skirts, tall pre-French revolution powdered wigs and buckled shoes for men in this neck of the woods just isn't going to happen. We rely on our cast members' attics, basements, and parents' houses. The lovely lady in my town who has an impressive colection of vintage and castoff clothing in her basement and rents out items for just this type of thing is a Godsend. The local hospital is a good resource if we're doing a medical based production, everyone finds what they can. A couple of years ago, I ended up playing the heavily padded, ten gallon hat wearing, heavily mustachioed mayor of the small western town in which our production was set. This was last minute, as the guy who'd agreed to play the part kind of fell off the face of the earth with two weeks to go before showtime. EEEEeeeek! With a tiny budget and a limited amount of liquid latex, I decided to delay building my facial hair until the day of dress rehearsal. Having taken that day off work, I was happily in my jammies (pink satin with purple hearts all over them) in the bathroom with the lower half of my face covered with dark brown hair (having decided to add huge sideburns at the last second) and waiting for the liquid latex to set. This crucial, as the whole thing will molt alarmingly if you don't let it dry for at least ten minutes after sticking the hair onto the latex. This needs to be done on the face that's going to wear the finished products or else it just looks weird. Like a thirty something year old redheaded woman playing the Spanish male mayor of a town isn't stretching it just a bit. So there I stand, in my pink jammies, my then mid-back length, curly, curly, curly, RED hair all over the place with this weird mass of synthetic hair congealing on my face and the worst imaginable thing happened...the doorbell rang.
I know what you're thinking...don't answer it. The thought did frantically cross my mind as I headed to the front window to peek out through the curtains and saw the UPS guy standing there with a LARGE box that I knew I had to sign for. Oh dear. Taking a deep breath and summoning up every bit of calm I could muster, I opened the door to the UPS man. He was looking at his little handheld computer thing as the door opened and to his credit, did not fall off my front step as he looked up. He visibly flinched and look of rather pronounced alarm crossed his face as he quite cautiously asked "Are you Elizabeth?" "That's me!" I brightly replied and reached for the pen to sign my very girly, loopy signature. He stared for just a moment before asking "Are you sure?". He hesitated for a second, took in the whole effect once more (likely commiting it to memory either for retelling back at the office or in case he needed to make a statement to the police at some point) and watched apprehensively as I scribbled my name and took my box into the house. I noticed that his truck stayed parked outside my house for several minutes and I saw him lean forward to look at the front of the house several times while talking on his phone. Oddly, the next time I got a delivery from UPS, it was a different guy.