Posted by: normanlgreen | January 29, 2013

Dream, January 29, 2013 Stuck on Stage


6:05 am

Late rehearsal before afternoon opening of a post WWII drama. I have a tiny part for which I have not prepared.

All the colors on the stage reflect 1940’s homey brown, dried-blood red, burnt yellow and olive drab. I am one of three returned soldiers facing the difficulty of re-integrating into the post war world.

After rehearsal, I wander into the auditorium as the crowd takes their seats. I climb to the balcony, hoping that my appearing in costume / uniform amongst the audience doesn’t break some company rule. I pretend that it is part of the show. Indeed, as I look down to the stage, I see many of the cast milling, no curtain having been drawn between proscenium stage and auditorium. A simple and shabby living room set with Father’s chair settled to the left, some stairs run up, across the back flat. Walking down the aisle, through the thin audience, I see the actor whom I have been brought in to replace. He is with friends, speaks loudly and is in a saboteur mode. He reaches into a cabinet built into a wall at the back of the lowest section of seats. He pulls out an army footlocker stenciled with the word “props” He tells his friends that the cast won’t need any of these items. I take the case away from him and haul it up the left-hand side of the house, and carry it onto stage.

I want to ask where the props case belongs, but discover that the show is in progress. Fortunately, I am in costume from the rehearsal, so try to guess where I belong in the scene. I set the case against the flaking left wall.

The plot of the show centers on three soldiers returned from Europe to marry three sisters. The Father of the girls has allowed all of them to live in his house, but with a grudging attitude.

In the scene, one of the grooms explains that he has an appointment with a banker to finance the purchase of a house for himself and his bride. A different soldier has made the most complete transition back to civilian life (he of the three wears no portion of army issued uniform). He leans into the conversation and asks “Who would lend that kind of money to an unemployed dog-face, like you?” He sneers beneath a pencil mustache.

As I am unfamiliar with the scene, I react as though I am hearing this for the first time – sympathy for the well-intentioned groom and confusion that our friend would choose to humiliate him. I realize that my character is the most naive of the three – lost in the scene. The father takes his seat on his over-stuffed chair and isolates himself behind a newspaper. I sit at his feet and freeze as I realize that half of the cast has struck a tableau, while the other soldiers have gathered in center stage for a whispered show-down. My stage bride sidles over to me and asks why I “didn’t make it into the Lieutenant’s scene” I don’t know if she means something that has already occurred or the scene currently in motion. She prods me

“You don’t belong here.”

I feel a painful flood of shame.

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