The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

De Rigueur

More big words.  En français, even. I had need of these words today when I commented on a post this morning. But was I using the term properly I wondered?

De rigueur: adjective – necessary if you want to be fashionable, popular, socially acceptable

Yup, apparently I was.

FLY GALLERYThe social acceptably behaviour under discussion was after-theater rehearsal drinks, the post-show pub crawls and the rowdy and bawdy banter that goes with.

It has been 30 years since I trod the boards in the community theater playhouse. It started as a lark. One day, when “The Performer” and I were passing by the theater, we saw that auditions were underway that very moment. He had considerable amateur and professional experience. I had a few high school productions under my belt. Why not?

I don’t know if it’s the same elsewhere, but in this town male talent was in short supply. When my boyfriend walked in, it was as if the Messiah had returned. He was cast as the romantic lead on the spot. I worked backstage as dresser.

And thus began my education of the life of a thespian. I learned about “that Scottish play” and “break a leg” and “rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb.” All very quaint and delightful lore to the outsider looking in, but fiercely held beliefs and practice to those of us in league.

Equally as important, de rigueur, were the after-rehearsal or after-show drinks. Here we held post mortems. We discussed our technique, our boneheaded mistakes, our brilliant interpretation of the script. Essentially, the pub was another stage upon which we bit players acted out our stress, anxiety, and fear.

Much one-upmanship. Much “Oh yeah? Well, we lived in a cardboard box!” Occasionally snide comments and outright malicious gossip about absent friends. As the night wore on, a song or two. “Knees up, Mother Brown.” (A good portion of our troupe was from Great Britain. Long may she reign.)

I recall having fun, I recall taking part in the conversation. Mostly, though, I recall performance anxiety. Greater anxiety than what I felt on the “real” stage.  Was I witty, pithy,fun? Should I speak? Dare I speak? Damn, why did I say that?

My favourite part of theater process was the audition and, of course, being awarded a role. I was cast in three or four shows and worked backstage in three or four more. Mostly, it was alright. But in the main, I decided to leave theater. Too many egos. The biggest was mine.

Inspired by Alienora’s Post Social Insecurity

“I am a good listener, but have never mastered the art of effective social intercourse.” Alienora Taylor

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Categories: Personal Growth

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30 replies

  1. This is wonderful, Maggie; it made me laugh and cringe and brought back memories of the seventies – and my DESPERATE attempts to attract the attention of the gorgeous men in my university’s Drama Department (of which I was not a member!). Thanks so much for mentioning me in dispatches as well. xxx

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    • Thank you, Ali. My guy was one of those gorgeous fellows. (To this day I do not know what he saw in me – he was very much a visual person, much to my dismay.) When he was in uni, he decided at the last minute to change his course of study and walked into the Drama room late. As one, the students gasped, for they were in the middle of trying to cast Jesus Christ for the Superstar musical. He was tall, dark, and as clichéed as it sounds, handsome as all get out. As I say,he had this way of pulling off the Messiah thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I studied drama and elocution from when I was 5 until I left high school. I acted in numerous plays and was a member of the La Boite theatre group and I never, never got over the anxiety that came AFTER the performance. I never wanted to be the first to leave an after party as I was POSITIVE I would be dissected the moment I departed. It’s funny what social anxiety can do and where it chooses to manifest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those parties often ran longer than the production, too! Is it safe to say, Jenni, that theatre is safely in your past and shall remain so?

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  4. Great post! I got a vocabulary lesson and a fun read, what’s not to love? Drama is an interesting life experience, but I’m glad I did it. Met some really interesting people. Thanks for sharing your story!

    🙂

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  5. I never guessed you were a thespian! Nice record of your memories.
    You should maybe get the gang (cast) back together.

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    • Hey Frankie. Hm. Not so sure about the reunion idea. I think that little chapter of history is closed and sealed. I was a stranger in a strange land. I tried it on for size, and it did not fit. When I moved to my current town, I volunteered with the local troupe – I worked backstage in props and as stagehand. Confirmed that “theatah” no longer held any nourishing value for me. Been there, done that, and bought a bazillion t-shirts.

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  6. Great story! My son is in film and I worked in Ophthalmology. At one point I was asked to go work on the Twilight movie, being filmed in our area, to help with contacts. There were so many egos there, there was no room for bad breath!! I quit after the first day.

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  7. Whew ! – for a moment I feared you were going to talk about having been a paid actor ! [grin]

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    • Well, not to quibble (OK, I’m quibbling) I did get paid for a couple of advertisings jobs – one was a TV ad flogging cars, the other was voice over work raising awareness about domestic violence. I always wanted to do more voice work. Books to tape for educational institutions and the CNIB. But I’m too far from the major recording centers to get involved.

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  8. Thanks for the visit and follow over at CTB 😀
    I too almost went to school for theater… instead I became a teacher. I have a much more captive audience and they can’t demand their admission returned for bad acting 😉

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  9. The after party drinks sounds like the break musicians take in between sets. Having recently been inducted to a musician’s family, and ‘the green room’, I can relate to your post. Lots of fun indeed!

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  10. Lovely snippet of your life, beautifully told! Such colorful memories…

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