W.C Fields, (When He’s Right)

21 Apr

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This guy was known for his one-liners and one of his finest, “Never work with children or animals,” was spawned by his loathsome hatred for both, and frequent forcing to work with them anyway.

…P.S., he was an actor. 

(In case you didn’t know.)

…A profession where people without patience or discipline are not long for the world. 

…Talent frequently has nothing to do with it.  So we won’t cloud the atmos with any of that right now.  Here, we are only talking basic mechanics.  Can you physically sit still, or stand, or recite on command, or change costumes, or move to where you are supposed to be, on a specific cue? And can you shut the hell up and behave, the rest of the time.

…That’s all.

These two species, frequently cannot. 

…They fidget, and steal focus, and play to the audience, or refuse to play at all, or act out when they aren’t supposed to, and don’t when they are. 

…And they are cuter than you.  So every fucking person in the audience is going to be ten times more intrigued with whatever it is they are doing on total accident (like picking their nose, or peeing in the corner) instead of you with all your months of dedicated hard work invested in this highly emotional scene.

This is why W.C. Fields is a genius. 

Because he said it: the truth, that no one wants to admit, but know is true…which if you do admit, makes you a giant asshole.

I am a giant asshole. 

…And I’m totally okay with that, frankly.

This is why you will never see me doing a show like, oh..”Annie” for instance. 

That would be like hell. 

…Unless I was Hannigan, in which case I getta hate all the children on purpose anyway.

…And you’ll never see me in a film like “101 Dalmations,” made up almost entirely with animilia of every size, breed, and type, each trained in doing one thing that they never do on cue, but will do any time  you like, when the camera isn’t on them.

I frankly super lucked out with “Oliver!”…only cuz it was a bucket-list role and totally worth all the pain, added to the fact that our kids were all freaks of talent, and really good, delightful human beings.

…This is not usually the case.

It sorta broke the mold.

…And in “Anne” our under-agers are serious-minded young artists, that attack the work as such, so I tend not to think of them as anything other than “peers,” outright…

…But the cat?

Ohhhhhh….the cat.

We have a live Mouchie. 

Peter’s cat is a “cat”…not a “something in a box they talk to from time to time”…and as such, lives with us in the first act, and back stage for the second. On a harness and leash, he exists primarily in Peter’s room, for a few spotlight moments, and isn’t thought of much again ever after. 

…But he is real. 

Legit. 

…A giant, Buddha-like tabby with slothful inclinations…which works perfect on a stage full of screaming hysteria (mostly sourcing from me) and much door slamming.  He is usually quite good to just smoke his little peace-pipe of hooka-catnip-hash and stone out for the act, then exit at intermission and be done with it.

…But not tonight.

Tonight, Tinker was a pissed-off individual, and by GOD everyone was gonna know it!!

…We didn’t know why, or how, what was different than the norm, what may have happened to spawn it, but it began not long after intermission with small vocal complaints (mostly only heard by cast on stage), magnified in the Anna/Peter date scene with a gigantic dump of uncovered poop that clogged the air with putrification…at almost gag levels…for the following scene and a half, then ended…at the most poignant of scenes…the second to the last…with Anne, gazing out the attic window speaking her most famous words…before the Nazis come storming in to collect us all…with a collection of yowlings that grew, and grew, and grew…until the audience was in absolute titters.

…After all that we had worked for…

…One FUCKING cat was completely ruining it all.

By the time it was carried, still yowling, and stowed away in the dressing rooms, more than a few pissed casties rallied the end of our strength and focus and worked to regain what was left of our dignity and solemnity in the moment. 

We rallied.

…Because it was our job.

…And a large number of them were FAR more forgiving of the fur-creature afterwards than I was. 

Again, that “cuteness” factor wins people over, all the time.

…But not the hard-asses.

I didn’t speak to that bastard on PURPOSE…even while everyone else baby-talked to it, and scratched behind it’s ears, and wondered over it’s emotional state, and what could have bothered it so to act out today, when it had never done so before.

Me, I just slapped it dirty looks whenever I could and silently threatened to kill it if it sprayed my bag of theatre crap, sitting beside in on the floor.

…Admittingly: I am not a cat person. 

I like dogs. 

…But I don’t care if it is Fido, a finch, a frog, a 30-hand-tall horse: you fuck with something I’ve worked two months and two-and-a-half hours to build: We are enemies, pal.

It’s ON, Tinker!

It. Is. ON.

~D

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