Vague And General Behavior

The Thespian was classically trained and the owner of a mellifluous baritone that could be projected to the back of the house with almost no effort, but still, he had not been looking forward to opening night, as the director of the production had been lax and negligible when it came to his performance, probably thinking that someone so renowned didn’t need any direction, when nothing could have been further from the truth, as the Thespian knew that he was only as good as the director he was working with, and, more specifically, the type of direction he was given. He had repeatedly asked the director to discuss such matters, but had been blown off every single time, told to “do what you do,” which is what he had been doing throughout rehearsals, just winging it and indulging in all sorts of vague and general behavior, and now the show was opening, and he was at a loss at what exactly he was supposed to do. And so it was with trepidation and a significant case of stage fright that he waited backstage, and then, against his better judgment, peered from the wings to get a good look at the audience, which was a garden variety collection of critics, fellow actors, friends, family and strangers, plus an old woman lying in a hospital bed at the end of the first row of seats. The old woman had tubes in her nose, was completely bald and the color of concrete. She did not look comfortable, and, as such, her body was twisted into some kind of unholy contortion probably meant to keep a modicum of pain at bay. Standing behind the old woman was what looked like her nurse, who fiddled with the oxygen tank, and who, in the half-darkened theater, was able administer care via a light clipped onto the headboard of the bed. The Thespian called one of his supporting actors over, directed his attention to the dying old woman and said, That’s going to be very distracting if you ask me. The supporting actor looked at the Thespian and said, You know, just be in the moment and don’t worry so much, and then walked away. The Thespian could not tell if the supporting actor was talking to him, or, in a more subtle, rhetorical manner, talking to the old woman. He thought to himself, Was he telling me to get out of my own way and not pay attention to the old woman, or was he telling the old woman, from a distance, to not worry about her obviously terminal condition and just enjoy the show? He was going to ask the supporting actor what he had meant but before he could do so the lights went down completely and he was told to take his place. Lacking a clear through line for his character, the Thespian decided to use the ambiguity and confusion of the present moment to inform his character’s behavior, and delivered all of his lines in the hesitant manner of someone speaking another language, someone who has no idea what the words coming out of their mouth could possibly mean. He also reacted to his fellow actors as if what they said made no sense, and it clearly threw them off, creating a tension that was not present in the text. This choice, however, proved to be fatal, as the show, and the thespian in particular, received across the board pans of the highest order, and the show closed within a week, sending the thespian on a three-year near fatal bender that culminated with him, for financial reasons, taking a generous sum to appear in a Gimme Some More, a teen movie with more than its fair share of gratuitous nudity, in which he plays the befuddled and hyper-randy dean of an all-girl’s school. Since then he has acted in zero theatrical productions and only handful of movies, and in each one he carries with him the air of someone who is lost, who has stumbled into the frame by accident, who is waiting for directions to a place he has either just come from or is going to, or, perhaps, nowhere at all.


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