Tag Archives: performance

The Paid Acting Gig

Jana: In college, I was an Actor. Here’s what I mean by that: In college, I minored in theater, I auditioned for all the plays, and I was occasionally cast as topless leads. And like all of my acting colleagues, my dream was to get a paid acting gig. Today, I share the story of my first ever (I mean also last, but you know) Paid Acting Gig. A thrill!

The summer of 2006 was spent in Burlington VT; my first time living in an apartment instead of moving home for the summer. And although I spent June locked in my room with a crushing depression that only abated when I finally found steady employment (The Gap stepped in and gave me a job, so. Support them if you can.), by July I was the happiest of 20-year-olds, working days, drinking nights, and generally doing stupid things in a large group of fellow actors.

When August rolled around, we all started to hear tell that there was a thing happening – this gig, this acting opportunity – that was paid. Our ears perked up. What was it, exactly?

Listen. It was the Date Rape Play.

Yes, you heard me. It was a thing called the Date Rape Play (literally, it didn’t even have a gentle subtitle), and it was performed each year for the incoming freshmen as part of orientation, so that they would be clear about knowing they might be raped at some point/what rape was. Here is the plot of the play:

Girl and guy are BEST FRIENDS. But, guy has a douchy brother, who is in a FRAT (bad). Frat boy brother invites girl and guy to party! They go, and they get pretty drunk (BAD). Afterwards, they go back to boy’s room, and make out. Guy is like, let’s have sex, girl is like, no, guy does it anyway (the lights fade as they’re making out, but it’s clear what has Happened).

NEXT MORNING, Girl is deeply confused and upset. She talks to her Lesbian Best Friend about it, who encourages her to tell the R.A. Girl does, and Boy is expelled from school.

That’s mostly it!

The woman who ran the date rape operation generally hired enough theatrically-inclined people to comprise like four casts, and each actor was paid $200. I called to inquire, and after a brief phone interview, I was cast in the play. And – big news – I was cast as the Rapee. (I told this story to someone once, and when I got to this part he was like, you mean the victim? And I was like, oh yeah, I guess that’s more appropriate to say.) So yeah, I was cast as the victim. Or, in my mind, THE STAR. It was fairly exciting, as these things go.

Rehearsals were hilarious. My cast included one of my friends as the lesbian, another friend as the frat boy brother, and a third friend as the person playing two parts (the lesbian’s girlfriend and the health center representative, who I believe was named Willow). Who, you ask, was playing the rapist? Well, let me tell you. Picture this:

He was in his 30s, and when I asked what he did he told me that he “DJ’s downtown sometimes.” He was short with a curly ‘fro sort of haircut and glasses, and he wore a necklace. Also, he was in his 30s and had agreed to be in this play with a bunch of 20-year olds. ALSO HE HAD TO PRETEND RAPE ME.

Regardless, my friends and I laughed our way through the month of rehearsals (my onstage rapist totally tried to be part of the group but we weren’t that welcoming), memorizing just insanely bad dialogue that included lines like  “You got the look girl, work it!” . And then, finally, the day came. The freshman had arrived, and they were piled into the theater, waiting nervously to make fun of whatever was about to be presented to them. We knew we wouldn’t let them down.

And we didn’t, and here’s why: my onstage rapist actually, and I am not kidding, PLAYED THE RAPE SCENE FOR LAUGHS. The dialogue is something like “come on, I love you!” and he was sort of like, bouncing up and down and just saying it like it was a joke. The audience loved it. Meanwhile, I was acting out my own rape so, you know. I didn’t love it as much.

That’s mostly all! Somehow we got through it, and afterwards we had a party that everyone just referred to as the date rape party (not even on purpose, it wasn’t like a THEME, it was just a statement of fact. It was the party after the date rape play).

Taken at the date rape party. Obviously, my starring role had gone to my head.

We collected our $200 and started junior year refreshed.

Catherine: I think we’re about to get judged, and hard, because I too was in the date rape play, different cast. Same deal. Everyone in the cast was friends, the rehearsals were a total joke, and we learned that rape could (and should) be funny if it was meant to entertain. I played WINNIE – not Willow – BUT WINNIE. The character was based off the person at our school who actually had that job, and hadn’t had the foresight to get a name change before beginning her life of ridicule stemming from her truly ridiculous name. Someway, SOMEHOW, this first paid acting gig did not deter me from pursuing acting (SHUT UP). Perhaps it is responsible for the fact that I only do comedy, though.

To the best of my knowledge, they still do this show every year. To the knowledge of my knowledge, I still say “You got the look girl, WORK IT!” every year, at least once.

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I Don’t Know You, But I’m Dying

Catherine: Were you around, dear reader, when I posted about Target? Yes? If you hated that post, don’t read on.

Two weekends ago, something bad happened. It caused me to actually PRAY TO GOD as it was transpiring, because I was in hell. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was in a show on Saturday that rehearses basically all day. That morning, I stayed in bed a little longer than I should have cuddling with my cat, and as a result had no time to make a smoothie for breakfast. Instead, I grabbed two brownies from the pan I had made the night prior (shut up.)

When I got to rehearsal, my friend had brought in two dozen donuts. Friday had been “National Donut Day,” and I hadn’t had a SINGLE donut, so I had half a donut. Feeling bold, I ate the other half shortly after. Four hours later, I had eaten three and a half donuts.

I went home for break and heated up some leftover brussel sprout pasta and yes, had some more brownies.

Following our final part of rehearsal, I went out with some castmates and ordered a veggie plate with falafel. I didn’t eat most of it (because it came literally ten minutes after everyone had already finished basically,) but I ate the falafel. I then went back to the theater to await the show, and yes, I did have another part of a donut.

Come show time, as I’m waiting backstage, my stomach starts to be all like, “HEY. HEY YOU!” And I do my best to ignore her (my stomach is a she.) She won’t shut up, so I pop two extra strength tylenol.

The show begins.

After the opening, I sit down and start to SWEAT PROFUSELY. Why? BECAUSE I NEED TO GO. I am PANICKED. The show has started, and JESUSCHRIST, I don’t think I can get on that stage because my stomach is EXPLODING and it wants me to PAY ATTENTION.

I realize that I may not make it onstage. I realize I may have to run off the stage in the middle of a scene. MotherFUCK. I have no choice but to tell my scene partner, (WHOM I HAD ONLY JUST MET – The show has a rotating cast, so I’m constantly meeting new members) that I was not feelin’ so great. She took it like a champ but was all like, “I don’t know your lines!” Fair. She didn’t. I had to impress upon her, and now the OTHER girl in the scene standing there waiting to go on in 30 seconds, that I might have to leave the scene.

I made it through the scene by the SKIN OF MY TEETH, and promptly ran backstage to the bathroom, but not before informing yet ANOTHER new person in the show that, “If I’m not back in time for this sketch, cover me??!! I will try to make it back!”

Stomach explosions ensue.

I get back backstage. There is still time before my next sketch. I promptly run to the bathroom again.

This time, I literally PRAYED in the stall. “God,” I said, “I’m SORRY that I ate 5 donuts, 4+ brownies, pasta, and a falafel. I WON’T DO IT AGAIN. I know you wanted some vegetable, I know you like nutrition, AND I’M REALLY VERY SORRY.”

I run back to the show, just in time to go onstage for a short monologue I have to do. As I step into the light, I begin to speak and then – the pain strikes – and my mind goes blank. I fear that I am about to SHIT MYSELF in front of an audience. Needless to say, I forgot my lines. If you’ve never forgotten your lines onstage you 1) must not be me and 2) know that it is NOT a good feeling. It is verrrrrry bad.

Somehow, SOMEHOW, I made up something vaguely similar to what I was supposed to say, survived the monologue, and collapsed backstage into a chair. There, I contemplated how many more relative strangers I would have to warn “I am having issues and I may have to run offstage at a moment’s notice. Nice to have metcha, by the way!”

In lieu of a picture, here is the footage of this monolgue from youtube. Now that you know what was going on on the INSIDE, watch this at the 27:37 marker and you can re-live my horrible, horrible 20 second hell:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vnNtm4sGUg

The rest of the shower was a struggle. After it was over, I left the theater with a speed my body was utterly confused by – “Girl,” it said, “How you moving so fast after you ate all that shit today, huh? Why you do this?” I screamed back at it, “YOU MADE ME DO THIS. I am TAKING YOU HOME.”

Once home, still feeling horrible but only now with a LOT of self-loathing, I ate most of the rest of the brownies and watched “Young Adult,” which is a fucking stressful ass movie.

Jana: Catherine. I know there’s no need to point out the obvious, but … why did you get that falafel? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Falafel, while a dear gift to the earth, is also straight from the devil: we know this. We’ve learned this. I just… I can’t believe you didn’t text me for my input on that. NEVER A FALAFEL BEFORE YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. That is quite legitimately something that I live by.

That said, I’m very sorry for what you went through. And I’m sorry that you decided to watch “Young Adult” when it was all over. Would that Patton Oswald could have been there to help you out, like he helped out Charlize Theron by weirdly sleeping with her. Although I can see how, in this situation, it would have been better if he’d just been around to burp you or something.

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