The Curse, Redux

This afternoon, at fight call, we were extra careful to make sure there wouldn’t be any more knuckle parries. Because the tech process on this show had been so compressed and chaotic, we had been changing lighting and sound levels on the battle up till opening night. And of course, someone got hurt. So this afternoon we made sure to lay out safety procedures, and ran through it nice and slow once, then at speed once.

The theater was warm. It’s that time of year when big HVAC systems have trouble deciding what climate a room should be. So we had the doors to the theater open as long as possible. It was a nice Sunday matinee crowd, almost a full house, and very attentive.

I was having a pretty routine run. I changed from Vernon to the Sheriff in the basement dressing room, then went upstairs to read a bit before my entrance in scene 7. I usually keep an ear open to the monitor to listen for my cue, but I was reading, so when Chase Stoeger, who shares my dressing room table said, “Uh oh,” I had to ask him why.

“He just stopped the show. Jeff said his back went out and he stopped the show.”

At this point I was now also listening to the monitor and hearing Jeff Withers apologize to the audience, but he had thrown out his back and would be unable to continue. And apparently (I’m listening now, not watching) hobbled off the stage. And then Falstaff said, “I’ve been in plenty of shows where an audience member walked out in the middle of the show, but never an actor.” Which, of course, was a great tension breaker, and drew a huge laugh. Then he suggested the house lights come up and the audience take a break till we knew if the show would go on, and they did. The next thing I knew, actors who had been onstage, should be onstage, were coming up to the dressing room. Stage Management had not given us a page, so we hung tight until we finally got an announcement to gather backstage. We were told to get out of costume and come back to the stage for a talkback, as the performance had been cancelled, and the playgoers were offered a rain check.

Stage Management, Paula Suozzi, and Todd (our fight captain) were in talks about what would be possible for our next performance — Tuesday morning’s student matinee. As Jeff was on his way to the ER for X-rays and muscle relaxants, it was decided to put Matt Pierce, Jeff’s understudy, in on Tuesday and cancel Wednesday to give Jeff time to rest before a two show day on Thursday. Because Hal does so much fighting, and there’s no way that Matt can safely learn the fights before Tuesday, Patrick Lawlor, our Worcester and assistant fight captain, will step in just for the fight with Hotspur. The kids will certainly get an interesting show!

Of course we’re all exhausted after this week, and certainly exhaustion played it’s part in Jeff’s injury. Everyone was looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow, you see, would normally be our day of rest, but we’ll have to have a put-in rehearsal instead. Ah, well, we’ll sleep in June.



As the Equity Deputy, I am obligated to relay actor concerns to stage management, and keep a weekly report of all goings on — hours worked, overtime incurred, etc. If there’s an injury, I need to file a report. After Todd’s injury last night (and the bevy of injuries sustained thus far) I ran out of injury forms. So Jeff’s report will have to wait until I can get another form. Plus, I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how to report the rest of the above goings on. For every show I’ve ever worked on, the Deputy has been a pretty symbolic post. I have found myself doing a lot of work as the deputy on this show. I’m not complaining; I love my union and think it’s important to have a representative on set at all times. That said, I’m a little out of my depth here.


1 Response to “The Curse, Redux”

  1. April 23, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    best wishes for a full recovery for jeff. hopefully you won’t need any more injury forms.

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