Backstage Drama

Winston Salem, North Carolina
November 10, 2017 9:56pm CST
The other night, at rehearsal, our director reminded the cast and crew that in the years to come it won’t be the successes that we will reminisce about, but the failures. We’ll rehash them, remind ourselves how we got past them and then laugh until the tears roll down our cheeks. Our opening night, tonight went remarkably smoothly. The cast remembered their lines, the audience laughed and the production was declared a success. Meanwhile, backstage the costume lady, the props mistress, the production manager, and the stage manager giggled and guffawed over all the things that have gone wrong with this particular show and a few of the things that could have gone wrong but, thankfully, did not. Scheduling conflicts and calendar quirks conspired to reduce our pre-production preparation time by a week and prevented us from getting any real set-work done until less than three weeks before opening night. Our set design person wasn’t on the ball and jumped ship less than a week before opening night, leaving us with no real set for our show. Our lighting person stepped in to fill in the set gap but is one of those people who doesn’t handle stress particularly well. The makeup person, who is also a member of the cast, has trouble following basic rules and doesn’t seem to have any clue as to how to read a clock. On preview night (last night), one cast member had clearly been hitting the bottle, and as such was having a difficult time remembering her entrances and her lines. And very few members of the cast seemed to be able to comprehend that no food or drinks besides water, meant NO food or drinks besides water. The evening, one cast member was having difficulty with her costume. She couldn’t find the tank top that she was supposed to wear under the bodice, and for some undetermined reason, the velcro fastening at the back was refusing to stay fastened. She’s a rather large busted woman, and it looked suspiciously like our children’s show might end up with an R-rated costume malfunction. There was nailbiting and pacing backstage, as the props mistress and I contemplated the potential repercussions. Thankfully, the queen made it through her scenes in the first act without anything newsworthy happening. We found the missing tank top and at intermission we made the necessary costume change. For some reason, though, the bodice still refused to stay fastened for more than a few minutes at a time. I puzzled over the problem and decided that I would have to find some solution before tomorrow night’s show. Meanwhile one of our more high-maintenance cast members came to me with a terribly serious costume problem. One of her gloves had a tear and there was no possible way she could wear them for the rest of the evening’s production. There was nothing I could do at the time, so I told her to bring the gloves to me after the evening’s show and I would see what could be done. “But I CAN’T wear them on stage like that.” “Well, you’re going to have to.” When I had a chance to look more closely at the “tear,” I realized it was just a simple run in the nylon fabric. Nothing earth-shattering. Nothing really repairable. And nothing that anyone in the audience would even be able to see. (you can see the problem for yourself in the photo). After the show, I was making sure all of the costumes were returned to their proper location and was able to get a good look at the cast member with the bodice problem as she changed back into street clothes, and I realized why the bodice of her costume didn’t fit properly. The R-rated costume malfunction I had been concerned about would have been a minor glitch compared to what really might have happened. The woman had neglected to wear any foundation garments at all. Can you imagine what would have happened had the velcro failed while she was onstage? Oh, my!
9 people like this
12 responses
@andriaperry (33265)
• Anniston, Alabama
11 Nov
Drama class.... I hope you are paid well.
3 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Nov
I'm a volunteer. I don't think I could be paid enough to HAVE to do this. I like our theatre's motto. "Our volunteers are unpaid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless."
4 people like this
@JudyEv (101135)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Nov
@Platespinner That's a great line - and very true of volunteers.
@LadyDuck (122389)
• Switzerland
11 Nov
This is really a little problem, nothing that people can notice, but I am laughing thinking to the "foundation garments" missing.
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (122389)
• Switzerland
11 Nov
@Platespinner People are so careless, there are rules and they must be respected, without the need to be reminded. They are worse than 2 years old kids.
1 person likes this
@AmbiePam (46231)
• United States
11 Nov
That is a LOT of drama. It sounds like a good reality show: Drama Queens. That lady has issues if she deemed her gloves unfit to be worn. Like you needed the stress!
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Nov
Thankfully the show went off without any major problems onstage. I think from the production perspective, though, that this will go down as one of the worst nightmares ever. At least we can laugh about it.
1 person likes this
@Srbageldog (5567)
• United States
11 Nov
The audience would have surely been scarred for life by such a costume malfunction.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Nov
The audience would have been scarred, and the cast and crew would have had an epic tale to tell in the future. I am SO glad it didn't happen, and I really, REALLY hope I don't have to remind her to wear the necessary undergarments when she shows up for tonight's performance.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Nov
@Platespinner So...did she remember her undergarments tonight?
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
12 Nov
@Srbageldog Unfortunately, even though I pointed out that the costume does not fit properly without the appropriate foundation, she still chose go without. Out of a cast of 31 there are three that I hope never to have to work with again. a couple more that I'm not terribly impressed with and 26 that are a pleasure to work with.
2 people like this
@spiderdust (2759)
• San Jose, California
11 Nov
Sometimes the REAL drama is what goes on backstage rather than onstage.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Nov
That's definitely been the case this time around! I suspect we'll be talking about this production for years!
1 person likes this
• San Jose, California
13 Nov
@Platespinner I'm just amazed that a cast member was drinking during a children's production.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
13 Nov
@spiderdust sounds about right.
1 person likes this
@ebanreb (4787)
• Philippines
11 Nov
The best drama is not on the script or in the actors or actresses only but the impact which every audience feels after the drama.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Nov
The most impactful drama of this particular production has been backstage.
1 person likes this
@ebanreb (4787)
• Philippines
11 Nov
@Platespinner Really hahaha. That is the best impact i guess when somethings are made beyond your control? lol
@Morleyhunt (16752)
• Canada
11 Nov
The backstage drama of a theatre production is similar to the backstage drama at some of our fashion shows. Lack of foundation garments creates so many interesting problems. Have fun with the show! We have our own ongoing soap opera.....
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Nov
Your soap opera has given me my current back-stage project (I have to be there in case of costume emergencies, but aside from covering everything up after the show there hasn't been a lot for me to do. I'm planning to take a blank journal and write a letter to my future 80 plus-year-old self so that my children have documentation of all the things I have told them that I don't want to do to them in my dotage.
1 person likes this
@Morleyhunt (16752)
• Canada
11 Nov
@Platespinner I'm not ready to write that list...but I'm thinning, culling, condensing....not just for the move...but so, someday....my children don't need to deal with it.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (101135)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Nov
I think your director is right! You'll relive and enjoy again all these stories many more times in the future. Glad opening night was a success and good luck for the remaining nights.. I hope the glove stays together!
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Nov
The spiteful imp inside of me really, REALLY wants to put something itchy inside those gloves.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (101135)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Nov
@Platespinner Haha. So, SO tempting - almost irresistible but perhaps you shouldn't. She just might stop the show once it took effect.
@RasmaSandra (13427)
• Riga, Latvia
11 Nov
Well I am glad at least the production was a success and now you can pat yourself on the back and have a well deserved rest.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Nov
No rest yet. We have six more performances to get through in the next 8 days.
1 person likes this
@shivamani10 (10769)
• Hyderabad, India
11 Nov
I am reading it like a real drama. I think the backstage drama is better than the real Drama sometimes.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
11 Nov
The backstage drama is definitely more dramatic. Unfortunately, it also has caused an unbelievable amount of stress for some of the crew.
@kepweng (6407)
22 Nov
is these a Surgical gloves??
@shaggin (26964)
• United States
13 Nov
Oh my thank goodness she did not wind up flashing the audience. It really all sounds pretty comical in the end all the things that go wrong.