As I’ve said before, theater is hard work.
It can also be dangerous work.
I’ve had a few tumbles and such on stage, but three times (that I can recall) I actually drew blood.
First, when I was in the Fischer Troupe in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
We had these faux footlights on the stage.
They were really coffee cans that had been cut to look like footlights and then nailed to the stage.
One night, I realized that every time I stepped on my left foot, there was a stabbing pain in my big toe. I was stuck onstage and there was nothing I could do about it. Anything I did to try to aliviate the pain only made it worse. And, of course, the show must go on.
Turned out it was literally a stabbing pain.
When the show was over (including the meet and greet after), I got backstage and tried to take off my white shoe – the front of which was now red, from blood.
A sliver of the cut metal from the coffee can footlights had worked itself into my shoe.
The sliver was stuck equally in the toe of my shoe and my toe, so trying to get the shoe off was quite an adventure in pain.
Oh, and I had to buy new shoes too.
Second, I already talked about this one – Annie in San Pedro, California.
My second fling at playing Miss Hannigan, and the director had a bit in Little Girls where I took paper dolls (the kind joined together in a string) and cut off the heads. Turned out the scissors were really, really sharp!
And one night, in performance, I cut the very tip of a finger off.
Lots and lots of blood, while I’m trying to finish the song, the scene, and the reprise of the song before I can get offstage.
And lastly, Broadway Sings Out – at the West End Playhouse, Van Nuys, California.
All I remember is reaching up and knowing that my fingernail scratched my scalp.
Thankfully, it was in the back of the head.
Thankfully, my shirt was dark gray.
At intermission, I’m sitting in the dressing room and I realize the collar to my shirt is darker than the rest of the shirt.
I touch it.
It’s wet. It’s not just wet, it’s soaked.
I look at my hand, and it is wet too and red.
You know how scalp wounds bleed?
Well they do.
I still don’t know how I did that one.
But it made me laugh to think the audience’s reaction if I had on a light colored shirt that night, watching me apparently bleed to death on stage.
I know people who have suffered some really horrific injuries, although generally in the dark booby-trapped areas of the backstage – not me.
If I’m going to bleed, by God (I don’t believe in), I’m going to do it in front of the world and lit with a spotlight!