Post Sneak Peek Stress Disorder

August 7, 2012


The Sneak Peek Week is over.  All in all I think it went well…ish… I have no idea how much money the theater raised.  People seemed to have a good time.  I’m a nervous wreck, though.

Patient Bear will wait for you to ask why he’s a nervous wreck.

(Insert pause where I don’t say anything else for a moment, until you sigh, roll your eyes and ask, “Why are you a nervous wreck?”)

Oh, well, that’s so nice of you to ask!  Well…

You may recall that I was in three of the scenes that were being presented.  Two of them went really well.  One of them had a lot of swearing, and a teenage kid in it was clearly a little uncomfortable with it, so he’d say things like “No way.  I’ll fall off and break my fhoghin head” which was kind of endearing.

Then there was the third scene… the Hitchcock spoof… the director said we didn’t have to be memorized for the performance but it sure would be nice if we were, ahem ahem… so, fine.  I memorized.  No big; it’s just one scene, right?  The lead woman in the scene had some trouble, though.

If I’m reading your body language correctly, and I think that I am, you’re about to suggest that that was no ordinary fight we witnessed through the windows the other night and that someone would have said something about these Missing posters if the woman was just away at her mother’s and that we have to do something. Is that what your expression means?

The first night she forgot one line, and unfortunately it was a scene-shifting line like, “We should call the police!” so it was really difficult to circumvent, ignore or feed in any way that’s less that abysmal (“Well, if you’re about to suggest that we should call the police or something, then I would have to reply that I think that’s a terrible idea!”).  Second night, choppy, pretty touch-&-go, but made it through.  Then came third night.

I don’t know what happened, but she completely lost it.  About 3 lines in to the scene she blanked, said a random line, tried to recover and then skipped to a line almost at the end.  “Are you making fun of me?” she said.  “No,” I replied.  “No, I’m not.  Not for several pages.”  From there it got so fumbled that I totally lost track of where we were and had to look at the script.  Soon she was just throwing out lines and we kept hurtling along.  At one point she mashed somewhere from 4-6 lines together just to give me something to get us back on track from.  And I’m not trying to malign her – she just got so utterly flustered that she couldn’t recover.

I was very “no biggie” and “don’t sweat it” about the whole thing until later talking to my wife (who was there), when I asked if it was at least clear that I knew the lines.  No, she replied.  It got so hopelessly lost that she took me down with her.  We both looked totally unprepared.

Oh, hell no.  It’s not a big deal to look like you messed up on stage until it looks like I MESSED UP ON STAGE.

“Run the lines again! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!”

Sunday, for the afternoon show, the director suggested she and I run through it.  He’s very positive and enthusiastic and so we’d get through it and he’d say, “Does that feel better?  Great.”  And I’d say, “Let’s run it again.”  And then again.  And then again.  And so on.

Going on, I was unbelievably nervous.  This is one scene, for a sneak peek thing that’s more of a party than an evening at the theatah.  But there I was, focusing, repeating lines, running drills in my head of how to handle various “dropped line” scenarios.

That last show went perfectly, though.  That or I blacked out and imagined it did.  Either way, it was a positive ending to that supposed quick little “sure, I’ll be in a scene” lark.  I’m exhausted, though.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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38 Comments on “Post Sneak Peek Stress Disorder”

  1. Blogdramedy Says:

    How great to help out a fellow thespian. You sure are a trooper! *snort*


  2. Don't Quote Lily Says:

    Ouch. Well, I’m glad you got through it! And the world breathes a collective sigh of relief…


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Indeed. People were so focused on if London could match the opening ceremonies of Beijing in 2008, and I think that’s the only reason this didn’t make bigger headlines.


  3. speaker7 Says:

    Oh my god…that scenario is one of my recurring nightmares.


  4. Go Jules Go Says:

    Don’t…say…it…don’t… s-u-c-k-e…NO!

    I had a sinking feeling this whole sneak peek thing wasn’t going as planned. Bet you’re loving the idea of a one-man show all the more now, huh?


  5. Hippie Cahier Says:

    So then I scrolled back up because I really like that bear picture and it occurred to me: he (?) looks like he’s memorizing his lines.
    Does that feel better? Great. . . .


  6. Audrey Says:

    You really did get suckered into this, didn’t you? I’m glad you survived, PSPSD aside. Are you going to be called upon to participate in any of these productions now? Maybe you can avoid getting paired with the same lady… :/


  7. thesinglecell Says:

    Ugh that’s awful. You don’t realize how much you really have to be able to trust your fellow actors until one goes up like that. You can’t just rewrite the show right there. If you can fix one flub and move on, you’re brilliant, but you can’t rescue an entire scene of dialogue. Brutal.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Especially when it’s so new – I wasn’t comfortable enough with the scene to wing it, or even have a clear grounding in where we were once things went off the rails.

      I felt bad for her.


  8. themeredithmouth Says:

    This has happened to me on multiple occasions. Two of the most memorable:

    1. Portia (me) + Shylock (amazing actor-type who, just two weeks prior, had lost his wife to cancer and was shockingly going on with the show) = a ridiculously circuitous courtroom scene.

    2. Annie (me) + Tom (my NOW good friend) + a game that has something to do with sherpas in “Living Together” = one forgotten line by Tom that ended in me not knowing what to do (i.e. being the world’s worst improviser at that time) and just simply staring him down

    In other words, I sympathize.


  9. Elyse Says:

    Oh you are wonderful and patient.

    My moment came when I played “The Woman” in my high school production of Death of a Salesman. There I was, trying to seduce Willie Loman when I saw my father in the audience. It is really hard to seduce someone in front of your dad. Trust me. Willie would have remained faithful to his wife. He certainly never spoke to me again.


  10. Lorna's Voice Says:

    Thou art a brave hearted soul indeed.


  11. Deborah the Closet Monster Says:

    This is the kind of thing I have nightmares about–that and math exams for math classes I didn’t take . . .


  12. Angie Z. Says:

    Exactly why I couldn’t handle acting today….I could do fine when everything went along perfectly. One little flub and I’d lose it. Or I would laugh, even worse. Glad you all recovered.


  13. The Bumble Files Says:

    Oh, the theatah! Nothing goes as planned. That’s what fun about live theater. Will you be doing anymore, or was that enough? I used to dance in things. No matter how much we rehearsed, something always different happened on stage. 🙂 Hilarious post!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Not sure if I’ll be doing much in the next few months – baby on the way, and something tells me that’s going to occupy a little of my free time.


      • The Bumble Files Says:

        Well, congratulations on your performances. Yes, your new bundle of joy will definitely occupy some of your time, just a little. I’m looking forward to your post baby blogs. Hopefully, you’ll have time to do one 🙂


  14. Sandy Sue Says:

    Ah, Perfection, thy name is Byronic!


  15. pegoleg Says:

    Your ability to interpret expressions is truly a gift. And here I thought that woman in the picture had just overshot her daily allotment of prunes.


  16. mistyslaws Says:

    So, couldn’t she just have snootily shot out “LINE!” to the sidelines every time she flubbed, and someone with a script would whisper them to her? I know it’s obvious by that question that I have a ton of theater experience. If by experience, you mean all the TV and movies I have seen regarding the putting on of plays.


  17. WomanBitesDog Says:

    Ohmigod. I hadn’t factored in actors could forget their lines. I’m fretting about one of them being ill and we have no understudy….that’s what directors are for, right?


  18. Shelby D. Says:

    The director should have been a little more strict. You are trying to impress the money aren’t you?


  19. JM Randolph Says:

    “Not for several pages”- hilarious! I love that.

    I once worked on a production of August Wilson’s Seven Guitars. The climax of the three hour and twenty minute play happens when a guy digs up the money buried in the garden, is discovered, and there’s an altercation and one of them gets killed. Well one night the money wasn’t buried at intermission. So the guy kept digging. And digging. And digging. Confrontation man shows up and watches him dig for a while. Then goes, “I know what you did, Floyd!” AND LEAVES THE OTHER ACTOR ALONE ON STAGE. No fight. No murder. Just left him there, thereby negating all previous three hours and ten minutes of drama. The play made absolutely no sense and the audience had no fricking idea what happened. Oh, and did I mention August Wilson was in the house that night? Yeah.


  20. She's a Maineiac Says:

    …annnnnd, this is why I don’t act. I’d lose it and leave a very patient bear on stage to fend for himself. You are a good man.

    That photo is priceless! Yesterday I saw a news story about some bears who broke into a lodge or store and drank 100 beers. The first thing I thought of? You! B-Man and bears will be forever linked in my mind now.


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