July 27, 2005

See How They Bleed

The play I've been rehearsing for just opened last weekend. It's called "See How They Run" and it's a British farce that takes place in the late 40s (and was written in the late 40s). It's wacky and silly and there are vicars.

The process of opening the show has been difficult. It was an abbreviated rehearsal process that somehow was made shorter due to various director and cast member conflicts. Also, it took me weeks to heal completely from the previously mentioned motorcycle accident so I was gimpily rehearsing as it was. Then there were cast members who refused to learn their lines and were still learning them on opening night. I am happy we're up and running (no pun intended) now because the process was dreadful. But I love the cast and crew. Despite the hardships (expected or self-inflicted) we have all enjoyed working together. I know many of them from either Comedy Sportz (Jake Suazo, Jeff Blake, Curt and Tonia Doussett, Hailey Smith) or previous plays (Jake, Hailey and Stephanie Grey). So that's been the best thing about it. Showing up and hanging with my friends. I've made new friends too. And, for once, no enemies. Nothing like how during "Midsummer..." the mechanicals all took me out back, stripped me down, put me in a loin cloth and made me fight a rabid St. Bernard, placing bets on who'd survive. Ryan Simmons lost a lot of money, I heard. Long story short: we're open, we're all friends and we're glad rehearsal is over. But ... we had an accident the first Saturday night.

There is a part where I have to assist a woman who's fainted and I'm dragging her around the room with me. I'm supposed to get to a point on the floor, yell, then release her, allowing her to crumple to the floor. Well, I missed my mark and the actress (who had kept her eyes closed the whole time) went to fall to the floor. On the way down, the back of her head met table. She stayed down until the lights went out 10 seconds later for intermission and then jumped up and ran to the dressing room bleeding down the back of her head and neck.

Shock and worry filled backstage and everyone was in a frantic mode of panic and concern. When I found out what had happened I had to hold back emotion. The producers came back and we all took turns trying to comfort her. Which was probably really annoying. We put pressure on the wound and a cold compress on her neck in an attempt to stop the bleeding. One thing I've since learned is that if you tell a person someone hit their head and it started bleeding, that person will say "Oh yeah, head injuries bleed a lot" 100% of the time.

We stopped the bleeding and then mopped the blood out of her hair the best we could. Then the producers handed me this Liquid Band-Aid stuff and I poured a bunch in there to help keep it from reopening. Technology is amazing, really. It's like medicinal super-glue. Then April (the actress whose head bled a lot) does something even more cool than technological Band-Aids. She tells everyone she is going on with the show. Here was this actor nursing a concussion and head injury telling us that she'd go on. They put her in a similar shirt that wasn't blood soaked and she finished the show. What a trouper. I had to fight the urge to cry and throw up the rest of the night (as did she, I'm sure, for different reasons). I just felt awful that we were put in a position on stage where that could happen to her. We definately should have had a stage combat advisor there to teach us how to drop/fall safely and we should have run it more than once a night during rehearsals.

She went to the doctor to get checked out the next day and they said the cut was going to be fine. They told her she had a slight concussion and to take it easy for a bit. April and I have since vowed to practice our staging of that moment every night before the show opens and I think her husband taught her some safe stage-fainting techniques. Hopefully we have our bases covered and nothing like this ever happens again.

Lesson: women will be injured if they trust me.