Jim's Richard III Blog

What had started as a blog of Richard III rehearsal process at Cal Shakes has now evolved or devolved into a small novella. The author is petrified to change the name for fear it'll disappear, and wouldn't know what to call it anyway. Many stories are included and questions are even answered sometimes!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Worming Out of It

We're on the last few performances of Christmas Carol and I've thus far managed to avoid the vast, teeming throngs of admirer's outside the ACT stagedoor after each show; I've had "Hey! It's Scrooge!" flung at me and scuttled away in the opposite direction, though I have been cornered by the occasional child with parent in tow and had a program thrust my way to sign, with gap-toothed smile.

It's not that I don't like adoration in it's many weird and misdirected forms, I'm just tired. This show kicks my butt, and after rinsing off my sweaty, weary self it's hard to rise to the occasion as far as polite conversation goes, and to stress my tired voice even more.

So I pull down my hat with the "Humbug" pin on it, don my hoodie, my coat, wrap my long red scarf around my throat to keep it warm, slide down the street to the BART station trying to dodge the remaining theatre-goers who huddle at the bottom of the escalator, flee to the far end of the station they don't cluster, and plop down to read till a train comes and whisks me home.

Last week after one evening show I performed my usual end-run around the clustered ones and on heading to the other end, saw a man point my way. I'd been spotted. Drat. The book came out and covered my face, the hat came down and hid the rest.

After awhile, peering through the gap between book and hat, I noticed a small pair of gold shoes presented exactly where I would notice them, and panning up, saw the bottom of a gold dress and green plaid coat inhabited by a red-headed little girl with blue almond eyes regarding me solemnly and quietly.................

I lower my book. "Hello." I say. There is a pause.
"I just have one question." she says very seriously.
"And what would that one question be?" I respond. Another pause while the question is properly framed.

"Were the worms real?"

She is of course referring to the worms that Jack Willis, who plays Jacob Marley, has stuffed into his mouth and slowly spews out to the sound of many "EEEeww's!!" from the audience as he rises out of Scrooge's bed and which continue to fall from his chest throughout our scene together...........I work for 2 hours and she asks about the worms......sigh.

I clutch the remains of my tattered ego to myself and say "No, actually, the worms are rubber, but they look very real." She sighs. "Mom was right." We regard each other for awhile......

Attempting to elevate the conversation above that of a staring contest I say "Those are very pretty shoes you're wearing." She nods in agreement. "And that looks like a lovely ensemble to go to the theatre in--you have very good taste." And in reply, still very solemnly and keeping her eyes on me the entire time, she undoes the log-like buttons of her coat and pulls it open to reveal her entire outfit--gold shoes, gold dress, and black velvet top--in all it's theatre-going glory. I give a small gasp of appreciation.

"Why that's a beautiful outfit!" I say wonderingly, and as she re-buttons I am rewarded by a small smile that informs me that she approves of me, that I at least, can truly appreciate her devastating sense of fashion. I am regally regarded by blue eyes before she departs with her father and whisks home, leaving me to smile and read by myself, alone on the platform.


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