Tag Archives: Rehearsal

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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Lil’ Disasters! Occurring In: Theaters

Jana: Here’s something new for the cheap seats in the back: A segment called “Lil’ Disasters”! In these posts, Cath and I will tell mini stories of times that we have embarrassed ourselves horrifically, but in small ways. Today, enjoy some individual moments in my life when I’ve walked away from a situation thinking “Jesus I wish I were dead.” 

In the inaugural edition, let’s talk about my acting career, shall we?

1993, The Beginning

In the third grade, my class did a play for the first time. As soon as the activity was announced, I felt something stirring in me and knew that this was my destiny. Then, I got the lead! The play was called “Daniel, Servant of the Lord,” and I was playing DANIEL. Yesss. I didn’t even notice that this was customarily a part for a boy! When the time for dress rehearsal finally arrived, I donned my tunic and tights with nervous excitement.

During that rehearsal, I was feeling PRETTY great about myself and my future as a gender-ambiguous actress. I had to go to the bathroom, though, so I left the auditorium in costume and headed downstairs. As I rushed down the top step, I saw the school receptionist heading up the stairs towards me.

“How are rehearsals going?” She asked, catching me off guard.

“Oh, great!” I managed to choke out.

Then, my tight-clad feet slipped out from under me, and I fell down the ENTIRE flight of stairs. Aside from sheer, body-wracking embarrassment, I don’t actually remember what happened next; all I know is that I avoided that receptionist at all costs for the entirety of my 5 remaining years at the school.

2005, The College Years

During one of the first rehearsals for the musical “Hair” that Cathy and I both had minor roles in our sophomore year of college, we were rehearsing a racy dance number, “Hashish”. The intimidating director was teaching us some choreography, and he placed me in contact with my crush, Peter. Peter was a junior, and I believed him to maybe BE the funniest person I’d ever met. I was thrilled that he’d have to touch me, which I expressed by looking at the floor and scratching the back of my neck. 

Unfortunately, on the day of this rehearsal I had chosen to wear my favorite workout pants. Like all of my favorite things, they were 90s-esque, with an elastic waist. During one dance move, Peter had to lift me up (YES!). BUT. The pants were so loose! Peter grabbed my waist. BOYFRIEND!, I thought. One second later, I felt my pants slide down. Like, all the way down, so that my underwear was exposed to not only Peter, but the entire cast of people I was hoping to impress. THE CLINCHER: My underwear had been purchased at American Eagle, and it was decorated with “school” phrases, like “To do: Homework!”, and little lists that read: “Field Hockey Practice, Math, TV!” 

Everyone laughed at me, I tried to be like “Ha, who doesn’t love American Eagle?”, and rehearsal continued. Shockingly, Peter never became my boyfriend.

This is what I ended up looking like in the real production of “Hair”. HELP THESE PANTS DON’T FIT ME, I wish I had been screaming. As I mentioned, Peter and I never dated.

2009, On The Downslide

Right after college, no longer an actress but still “wanting to be involved,” I worked as a House Manager at a local theater. One morning, I got dressed in what I deemed to be a classy, adult outfit – consisting of a strapless black top and a cardigan – and headed to work, where it was my job to instruct the volunteer ushers.

The ushers who showed up on this particular day were a man and woman in their late sixties. I gave them some little job to do, like picking up trash in the empty auditorium, and headed to the supply room to get the box of Kit Kits we’d sell at intermission. I leaned down and hoisted the box up into my arms. Easy breezy! Then I returned to the ushers. Like a professional, I instructed them to do another task. As I talked, I noticed they were looking at me with pained faces, as if they were being tortured but had yelled at to be cool about it. What a weird couple! I thought, but I didn’t let it get to me. I made some generic joke like, “Don’t get lost now!”, and sent them on their way. I was KILLIN IT. 

Confidently, I went to check in with the box office attendant. “Jana, oh my god,” she said. “Jana. Your shirt is off! I can see your whole bra! Oh my god!” She gestured wildly towards my chest. I looked down: BOOBS. The strapless black tank top was now just hovering underneath my completely exposed bra. The fucking Kit Kats! The strapless top hadn’t been able to maintain its position under the weight of the concessions! AHH NOO THE USHERRRS.

To my credit, I shimmied my shirt back into position and continued instructing the ushers as if they hadn’t just almost gotten to second base with me. To their credit, they didn’t complain to the theater that their House Manager had exposed herself while on the job. It was a win-win, if you think about it some way other than the way I think about it.

That’s all for today! I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of “Lil’ Disasters”! Don’t worry, there are more to come – lil’ disasters happen in my life every day.

Catherine: JANA YOU ARE A DELIGHTFUL TREASURE TROVE OF HUMILIATIONS. I love the image of your “tight-clad feet” giving way under you, sending you tumbling down the stairs, your bobby pins breaking free and dispersing wildly.

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