Posts Tagged ‘Rude Cell Phone Man’

Sterling, Virginia, September 29:

Our second-ever performance of Henry the Fifth saw an improvement over its predecessor at Loyola. We were all a little less frantic, if that’s possible in a production with so many costume changes, and as I looked out at the audience, I did not feel as though I was speaking another language. Unless, of course, I was.

The stage was fairly small, which meant that we had to alter the battle sequence slightly. The non-combatants (Pistol, the Boy, and Mr. Paul Reisman as the drummer) scooted off stage as quickly as possible, eliminating Pistol’s crucial pickpocketing-of-the-French-soldiers, and my less crucial holy-wow-look-at-King-Henry-kick-some-French-derriere-gaze-of-awe.

The placement of our set, otherwise known as six black boxes, was also thrown into jeopardy by the small space. Evan had the idea of moving the furthest-downstage box off the stage into the front of the auditorium for the English Night scene, which worked very well. Or, at least until the wooing scene in the final act. When he realised that the box onto which he usually ‘vaulted’ had been removed, the split-second glance before he decided to leap all the way off stage was priceless. (Afterwards, Evan said, “It’s fitting that it was my idea to move the boxes, and I’m the one who was messed up by it.”) Fortunately, Princess Katharine found him all the more charming for being all the more flustered. But she opted for sitting on the upstage rather than downstage box this time around. That’s the kind of crazy blocking gymnastics one has to do as a Theatre Ninja.

We had a fair amount of cell phone interruptions during this performance, which made me think that we should revert to the one time in the Merchant pre-show in which first Raffi, and, two minutes later, Alisa told everyone to turn their cell phones off, on pain of derision. (Or rather, “The Most Important Thing I Could Possibly Tell You Is TO TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE thank you.”) Alisa has a much more excellent account of Rude Cell Phone Man at this performance of Henry on her blog; it excels in part because she was stationed in the theatre lobby at the time, and in part because Alisa’s manner of telling a story makes me laugh until I cry. I only noticed the Cell Phone Perpetrator once, during the Crispin’s Day Scene; I glared in the general direction for a minute, but, as the only unarmed person on the entire stage, I left the menacing to Scot, who was doing an admirable job.

Speaking of the Crispin’s Day Scene, Evan told me afterwards that he noticed a few men in the audience mouthing not just the famous lines but the entirety of the speech along with him. He said “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” right along with a man who was sitting on stage, to the left. Now, this can go either way; I was once in a production of Macb*th that performed for a few classes of 5th graders (don’t ask) and the entirety of the audience recited aloud “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” along with my friend Mr. Risher Reddick. That was a little unnerving, at least for me, and I was witnessing it from behind the metal supply closet ‘backstage.’ But Evan said he loved it, and I agree that it’s a particularly powerful moment in which to be literally sharing the words with the audience—because the Crispin Day speech is all about this particular group of people being thrown together at this time, in this place. That’s theatre! Plus, you know your soldiers are really with you when they know your speech. This might also help me with the Quality of Mercy, which I have recently become aware may also boast a fair amount of simultaneous audience recitations. I will say, “Therefore Jew: / Though justice be thy plea, consider this: / That everyone thinks mercy is so great / They’re mouthing all these words along with me.” Case closed.

After the show, we went to the Hoffmann house (because Evan’s parents live nearby) for the best dinner we had in weeks. Evan’s parents were more kind, gracious, and hospitable than we truly deserved, as we simply scarfed down the make-your-own salad, lasagne, and 87 different sundae combinations as if it were our job. Which it kind of is. Being an actor and being starving go hand in hand. Like peanut butter and jelly; like cookies and milk; like turkey and stuffing; like hummus and pita. You will notice these are all food similes—that is not a coincidence. Evan has a picture of a few of us (pictured are Mr. Paul Reisman, Ms. Ginna Hoben, and, I believe, Mr. Josh Carpenter in retreat) either smiling or groaning under the weight of all that delicious food on his Piercing Eloquence Blog; he also has posted a few pictures of us at Loyola.

We were staying at the second most beautiful hotel yet (after the Belmont Inn), so it was unfortunate that we were only there for a night. When we walked into our room, I suggested that we commute to Staunton from the hotel. Paul did not hear me, because was already locked in an amorous gaze with the gigantic flat-screen TV. It seemed like a 478-inch television, which is the only kind of estimation I can give, being much better at hyperbole than actual real-life size measurements.

The thing that ultimately made parting from the television and the pillows bearable was the fact that the staff was a bit bungling, or at least, not speaking to one another. Paul went to register us for a late check-out time, but they had already lost the photocopy of the sheet with all of our names and room numbers on it. So they made another copy. The following noon, we were accosted by staff warning us that if we didn’t check out, we would be charged. Paul went down and explained, but no one had either of the previous two photocopies, any recognition or acknowledgement that this arrangement had been made, or, apparently, two hospitality-trained brain cells to knock together. They solved the problem by making a third photocopy of our room sheet. I proposed that the staff worked there because they liked the aesthetics and the complimentary apples, not because they were particularly committed to hotel management.


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