I was so fortunate to grow up in an area of Michigan that was crammed with theater – especially musical theater.
Each Fall the Bay City Music Foundation (I think that was what it was called) put on an all-high school musical. My high school put on its musical in the Spring. And in the summer I went to the Summer Enrichment Program which did a musical (actually, two – one for the little kids, and one for the high school kids).
Once I was out of high school, I faced the prospect of “grown up” theater – The Bay City Players and Pit and Balcony (Saginaw). I believe Midland also had its own theatrical group, but I was never involved with them. And, of course, my years with the Fischer Troupe in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
If I wasn’t onstage, I was often in the pit orchestra.
But my very first “grown up” show was a non-musical play – Spofford.
I played Mare – a sad woman – and I don’t remember much more about her; except she would go down to the abattoir – which was through a trap door under the stage.
The trap door was supposed to close quickly – and it did.
One night, I did not jump down fast enough, and it closed right on my punkin’ head.
I literally saw stars.
And I had to huddle down there and wait for my cue to come back up, having no idea what would happen after my big noggin thumping.
I came up and the world spun for a few seconds but settled down and the show went on.
The thing I remember most about Spofford was it was the first time I was in a show that spanned more than one week.
I was used to doing shows in High School where you perform the show over one weekend, and then you were done.
And my brain was adept at dumping all that useless knowledge (blocking and lines, etc.) once the show was over.
So imagine my horror to come to the theater the second weekend of Spofford and realize that my brain had done its “dump”!
I remember scrambling for a copy of the script.
I’m guessing I found one or else the lines were not so far past retrieval that I was actually able to remember them.
I can’t say for sure because this is a common nightmare that I have.
Showing up for performance and not knowing the lines and trying to lay my hands on a script.
So after all these years the reality and the nightmares have long since merged and I can’t really tell the difference between memory and dream.
After that happened, I made it my custom to repeat all of my lines at least once a day between performances.
In fact, now that my poor old fat old lady head doesn’t retain like it used to, I live in terror that the lines will go rambling just when I need them, so I am constantly herding them – repeating all of them before the show, and again before each scene as they come up in the show.
People I do shows with think I’m such an anti-social crabby fat old lady – nope.
I’m just concentrating on keeping a death grip on those lines until they are no longer needed!