TAKE ONE: What I Learned About Stagecraft


By Kay Stoltz
Part 3 of 3

We are in full view of the audience throughout the play. No water bottles, no fidgeting, no potty breaks. This is particularly hard on Newsboy. Boys are not meant to sit still that long. And in a skirt, I remind myself: knees together, feet crossed to the side. Remember that training so long ago. Not easy.
And yes, we have commercials. The script lists the words for jingles sung between acts. The singers compose a tune with a Boogie-Woogie beat, in keeping with the era. They bring it off with gusto. Much to the delight of the audience.

Opening night! Real Time! The practices of more than two months now live. “It’s good to be nervous, it gives you an edge,” Brian says. We gather an hour before showtime in a near-by exercise room. We were promised a make-up person; she turns out to be one of the Jingle Singers. The regulars have many talents, it seems. She goes around the room, analyzes what each character needs, and applies it.

We take our places onstage, the nervous energy palpable, as we wait for everything we’ve worked on, memorized, and studied to come together in front of an audience. Stage dark, The Director checks that everything and everyone is in place, talking to the sound booth in the back of the theater through his headset. I hear him, you OK? OK, show time! Pauses to give us thumbs up sign, then through the curtain to announce the plays.
The curtain opens and it’s finally here. Without misstep we read our parts, moving smoothly. It all goes well, with the audience clearly enjoying themselves. A highlight comes from Cop, who plays two roles in the same play. These two characters have a conversation with each other. Cop moves extravagantly: jumps to one mic, pauses a millisecond, speaks in character. Then, hops to the next, pauses, and answers in the second character’s voice. The audience gets into the spirit of the plays, having fun with all of it.
Then, curtain calls, and the first showing is over. It worked. No problems. And! I get kudos from guys in the sound booth. “Everybody loves you. You get the most laughs!” Wow! And it’s only one line. House lights on, we greet the audience, thanking them for coming, and chatting with friends who came to watch us. A great feeling of camaraderie.
Then it’s over. Readers’ Theater is harder than one thinks. Eight performances, plus 25 rehearsals. And I had only a few lines. Was it worth it? Yes! I learned a lot, met talented, hard-working people and left with an appreciation for Readers’ Theater. However, I think I satisfied my itch to be on stage. Then again, I wonder . . .
What will they do next? Got a part for a “mature” female?