October 23, 2009

-image-“childhood enmeshment”?

Someone Googled “childhood enmeshment” and it brought them to this post? Okay.

Well, let’s re-post it. Why not? All other drama camp posts here.

Originally posted July 2005.
________________________________

“If You Can’t Act, Behave!”

Can I say this? I rather dread the first day of drama camp.

And today was the first day of drama camp.

There’s always far too much drahhma.

There’s always The Poor, Fretful Chile who didn’t choose camp; it was chosen for her. Not sure which one she is? Oh, well, she’s the one coming unglued over in the corner. And is that her mother with her, consoling her? Nope, that’s me, trying to brainwash this child into believing that “drama camp will be fun, fun, fun and it’s just the ticket for a jittery kid like you!!”

Then there’s always The Bratty Boy; the boy that says, “Ewww. There aren’t any boys at this camp, only girls. Ewwww. I don’t wanna do this. Ewwww. This SUCKS.” So where is Bratty Boy now? Oh, he’s lying down over there in another corner. Guess he’s just plumb tuckered out from all that participatin’ he’s doin’. Or he’s drunk. Frankly, I’d rather he lie there with the DTs than bother the rest of camp.

Then there’s always The Little Girl in Floozy Makeup, the one whose naturally beautiful, shining face has been frosted and glossed and rouged past innocence into a macabre Pretty Baby rainbow. So where is our little rainbow now? Well, I wish I could say she was in the bathroom with a washcloth, making the world right again, but, alas, she’s loudly centerstage, frosty and glossy and rougey.

Of course, there’s always The Parent Who Never Leaves, the one who can’t separate or won’t separate or won’t let the child separate or some other combination of raging parent/child emeshment. Interesting. It’s usually the little rainbow’s mom.

Then there’s always The Parent Who Treats You Like A Babysitter: “See this stuff here? Well, that’s Baby’s overnight bag. She’s spending the night with Lulu, so can you see that Lulu’s mom gets this stuff, hmmm? And (eyeing our Goldfish and pretzels suspiciously) these are Baby’s special snack-ums. I want her to have some healthy snacks, so can you please give her these Salmon-Crusted Wheat Germy Soy Sticks, hmmm?” Interesting. It’s usually the mom of the sickliest looking kid at camp.

Then there’s always, always The Parent Who Cross-Examines You About Why Little Blandranelle Didn’t Get The Part She Desperately Wanted — And Do You Know She Cried All Day and All Night, Too?!

But then, ah, then, there’s always The Boy Who’s My Hero, the one who is sure enough about his emerging masculinity that he can go to football camp or baseball camp or basketball camp and STILL come to drama camp. And where is this boy, you ask? Well, he’s the one onstage right now, fearlessly leading the charge before all the other boys and getting up to audition, opinions be damned.

Finally, perhaps best of all, there’s always The Kid With Grace, the truly talented one who didn’t get the part she’d hoped for, because, much as you’d like, you can’t give every kid the lead, can’t make every theatre dream come true. So where can one find this Kid With Grace? Well, she’s the one on the phone with me now, listening as I offer her the choice of two other parts, neither the part, but still oh-so-important. And she’s the one hiding her disappointment with a poise belying her tender years. And she’s the one who breaks your heart when, again, you ask which part she prefers and she says, “Well, which choice would make it easier for YOU to do the best possible show? That’s the part I want.”

Come to think of it, dread is not the right word. Not the right word at all.

August 24, 2005

-image-curtain calls/curtain cries, part 3-b

Brother and husband look at me.

“Please. I don’t want some scene.”

“All right,” Brother sighs. My Beloved is still eerily quiet. I walk away, unconvinced and unnerved.

It’s 10:59. Showtime. Joey takes her seat, smiling and waving energetically at me. I barely raise my hand in return, unable to feign enough perkiness. Pretense is required here and, gah, I just hate pretense. But, paradoxically, I also hate my inability to muster the pretense needed to seem normal in little social scenes like this one. So I barely raise my hand, but berate myself for barely raising my hand.

The show finally gets under way. I stand off to the side, still sweating, still wondering if my Go-To Kid is gonna Go or Blow, still wondering if My Beloved and Brother will stop their plotting and stay away from Joey, and still wondering if our keyboard player is going to mess up the part I think she’s going to mess up.

It’s a kind of rhythmic dialog section with accompaniment. Frankly, at this moment, I don’t know why I wrote it. The keyboard player is “sure” she’s got it. I have my doubts, so much so that I’m about two seconds away from actually shoving her off her poofy bench and doing it myself. (See, I have demons. Just not the kind Joey thinks.) Well, here it comes.

Now, I’m very careful to say this rhythmic dialog only in my head because I don’t want to be one of THOSE kiddie play directors who moves her mouth, saying all the lines, singing all the songs, drawing attention to herself as some clammy, uptight crackpot who has no faith in her performers. I AM all those things, but I prefer to ACT as though I am NOT.

Annddd …… rats. Turns out I was right to have those doubts.

Ah, well, she covers it, sort of. My actors look petrified and lost for only a split second. No one cries, which is certainly good.

Honestly, I’m amazed. So far, so good. The audience is even laughing because they’re supposed to laugh, not because some disaster has befallen the show a la the movie “Parenthood,” where the little brother gets upset because he thinks his sister onstage is really being hurt, when of course, she’s not, but he’s only 3 and doesn’t know that, so he yells out, “You’re hurting my sister!!” then storms the stage, trying to save her, but mayhem ensues and the entire set falls over and the play is ruined and it’s hilarious.

But my play isn’t over yet.

And my favorite moment is about to occur: The Kid in “Day by Day.”

You remember him. He’s the one who sings:

“ooooOOOOHHHhhh dddDDDEEAARRRrrrr LllooOOORRDdddd, THREE THINGS I ppprrAAAaay!!!”

He positively wails up and down, like a siren. I can’t wait. I’m watching no one else but him right now. Sorry, drama queens, but The Kid has made this his moment.

AND ……

OH, LORD, HE’S JUST STARING AT THE FLOOR, LOOKING LIKE HE’S GONNA CRY OR WET HIS PANTS!

Seems The Kid is our first casualty of stage fright. He doesn’t wail or howl or bellow. I’m not sure he even sings the words and if he does, it’s more of a private, mournful croon to the carpet than his usual yowl to God and the entire WORLD.

All right. That kills it for me, folks. The show is ruined.

(And I am NOT being a drama queen!)

But, drat it all, I’m forced to grieve quickly because my Go-To Kid’s moment is fast approaching. I see his face has paled from its pre-show purple to a plumpy pink. His line is written on a piece of paper, taped to the back of a chair. All he has to do is glance at the paper and say the line. Hopefully, he won’t just stare at the paper. Hopefully, he’ll say it loudly enough. Oh, and hopefully he’ll say it slowly enough. So that’s “all” he has to do.

Hmm.

Hmm.

What was I thinking, throwing all that pressure at him, last minute!?! He’s gonna choke! I start chewing my fingernails and I don’t chew my fingernails. I wonder if my body will ever feel dry again. All I can do at this moment is watch and wait and pray the pink doesn’t turn to purple.

AND ……

THE GO-TO KID GOES!!! HE DOES IT! IT’S LOUD AND CLEAR AND PERFECT!

HOORAY FOR THE GO-TO KID!!!

My brain dances a little mental jig of joy at this. And, suddenly, somehow, from that moment on, magic happens. Theatre magic, which is a singular kind of magic. All my little drama queens jump off their presumed thrones and actually earn their glittering crowns. Even the Little Fart, costume-less, manages to stay upright the entire show. I stand back, awestruck at this looney alchemy, wondering how they did it, even though as director, I should know how the trick is done. But that’s the glory and mystery of theatre. You might know how the trick is done, but it’s never done the same way every time.

All thoughts of what might happen with Joey and Brother and My Beloved disappear as I watch my little drama queens take their triumphant royal bows to the echoing cheers of their families and friends.

They did it. They really did it.

And I’m bustin’, I tell ya. Just bustin’.

As the crowd gathers ’round for after-show refreshments, I’m swept up in a wave of hugs and flowers and congratulations. I feel as though I’ve just won Miss America — but without that dreadful swimsuit competition. Joey tries a few times to approach me, but I’m never alone and My Beloved skulks about, casting a long, surly shadow. Several minutes go by. Finally, she seems to decide she has something to say to me and pushes her way through those poor, sugar-starved kids crowding the cookie table. I can’t manuever away before she’s on me, gushy and hyper and wiggly. I just look at her and wonder if she’s been hitting the Krispy Kreme box. Numbly, I mutter some thanks to her. The moment seems about to stretch to the breaking point when I’m saved by a kid who scrambles up and squeezes my waist. Joey slinks off as I look down into the shining face of one of my little leading ladies. She hands me a large, purple-and-pink-striped paper heart that has these words and this punctuation written crookedly across it:

“Dear Mrs. Tracey,

Thank you so much for 2 weeks of fun!! I had a super time!! Thank you for being so encouraging to me!! I love drama camp!! I hope to do drama again!! Thank you for teaching me to be an actress!!

Love,

Lindsey”

She squeezes me again and my face is moist, this time with tears.

Ah, these little drama queens.

How they do get to you in the end.

August 12, 2005

-image-curtain calls/curtain cries, part 2

UPDATE, SUNDAY EVE.: I was out of town this weekend, that’s why this is taking so long to finish! I didn’t finish it all before I left, so I just posted what I had. I’m back now and expect to finish … any day.

All right. Now where are we in the story? Ah, yes.

My Go-To Kid, Jack, is blubbing, a gushing geyser. My tardy keyboard player is looking unimpressed with the whole shabby operation. And all my drama queens have rushed me, hoping the Go-To Kid is toast, praying that one of them can inherit his singular line — a line destined to create a Golden Theatre Moment, a line sure to vault its speaker into the pantheon of theatre gods, a line that conjures both magic and mayhem when uttered:

“Over here! Over here! Shoot the Stars! Shoot the Stars!” (*)

Whatever, drama queens. Carpe Diem. Shoot the Stars.

I shush the queens, rather sharply, prying myself away from their sweaty little circle of greed. My Go-To Kid is still up there, whimpering now into his frankfurter fingers. The other actors onstage have huddled far away from poor Jack. They have their own lines in this scene so they haven’t stormed the castle that is my personal space like the other kiddies did. They seem to have decided that Jack has theatre cooties or something and, ewww, gross, they certainly don’t want to be near anyone with those. No, God forbid, their stellar performances might be impaired!

I bound up to Jack, wrap my arm across his shoulder. We are both moist; he with tears, me with worry. He wails and hiccups:

“I’m sss-o-O-o-OO-rr-r-RRY, Mrs. Tracey!”

Ah, the poor little sausage.

“Oh, Jack, it’s okay. Don’t worry. I know you can do it.”

I didn’t, really.

My Go-To Kid continues:

“Eeeeee-ee-eeee-eee-ee-sniff-ee-EE-eee ….”

It’s now 10:26. I can’t think. The glowing-eyed kinderhounds on the floor are watching, drooling at Jack’s meltdown. I glance at them and scowl a scolding scowl. Clearly, God and compassion are being trampled under their marauding little theatre lusts.

I pull Jack farther away from the puny fiends.

“You know what, Jack? It’s gonna be okay. We’ll write your line on a piece of paper and tape it to the back of this chair. The audience won’t be able to see it. Okay?”

“EEE –eeee–ee-eee ….. O-oo-o-kk-k-kay, Mrs. Tracey.”

I mutter at one of my assistants to take care of it. We run the scene one last time, with the cheat sheet in place. He gets it right, but it’s shaky. I shout praises at him and he smiles a flush-faced, soggy smile. Silently, I exult to see the greedy glow of the kinderhounds fade at the sound of my loud encouragment.

It’s 10:30. The house opens at 10:45. We run a few key spots, which is all that time allows. We pull our cast aside for one last pep talk, open the house, and encourage the kids to greet their families.

Now, opening the house means several things to me. One of them is this: The arrival of two people who simply should not be in the same room right now. First, my one-time, longtime best friend Joey, known as She Who Claimed I — and my whole family — Have Demons AND, second, my brother, heretofore unmentioned, but mentioned now as He Who Is Very Angry With She Who Claimed I — and my whole family — Have Demons.

(She, however, does not know this.)

I’m sure I must have mentioned that Joey brought her son to drama camp?

So, you see, my pre-show willies and sweats are not entirely due to production woes.

Now why, you may be wondering, would Brother come to a kidde play when kiddie plays are always dicey, at best? Well, my current Co-Director is his wife, someone also none too thrilled with Joey. In Brother’s arms, happily slurping her thumb, is my wee 18-month-old niece, the cutest, buttonest baby in the world.

Add to this list My Beloved and you have the cast of characters now oh-so-harmoniously converging in my clammy, strung-out world.

It is 10:47. I sprint to the restroom and back, thinking, apparently, that running will dry me off. Back in the auditorium, I happen upon this scene that, frankly, does nothing for my nerves:

Sister-in-law stands at the front of the auditorium with Button Baby in her arms. Hovering over my niece, who looks a bit puckered by the nearness and largeness of the face, is Joey. My sister-in-law looks nearly as puckered as Button Baby.

Egad. I can’t breathe.

To their left, leaning up against the far wall, are Brother and My Beloved. If I could breathe, I might nearly laugh, because from my vantage point, I can see that these two men in my life wear exactly the same expression: a scowl so low and so murderous that the eyebrows seem about to choke the very eyes themselves. I watch them. They are speaking to one another in that twisted lip way, out of the side of their mouths, trying to be inconspicuous. It’s a laughable attempt, truly. These are not inconspicuous men in any cirumstance. My Beloved is 6-foot-3, dark-haired, blue-eyed; Brother is tall, too, with a shock of blonde swimmer’s hair and a perpetual carmel-colored tan. People notice them anyway. But now, now they are whispering with such contorted vehemence, such bumbling discretion, that it simply screams out, “LOOK AT US, WORLD! WE ARE BEING TERRIBLY INCONSPICUOUS!!”

Whatever is being said, they are none too jolly. I know my brother. He mustn’t be allowed to take one step closer to Joey.

Worlds are colliding here. I need to go over there now, but, egad, I can’t move.

Just then, a small voice from behind me. Ah. It’s the little Floor Roller:

“Mrs. Tracey, I forgot my costume.”

I think the Brown Pants Moment just might be upon me.

(and to be continued still …. sorry ….)

(*) One of the too-many “throwaway lines” I need to write so that more li’l kiddies can have lines and more li’l grownups can love me whilst I hate myself. But I’m not bitter about it. At all.

August 8, 2005

-image-curtain calls/curtain cries

(This will be a two-parter. Mainly, because I’m still feeling a bit green and hazy and such.)

All right. It’s Monday, but let’s pretend it’s last Friday. The morning of our drama camp’s not-so-grand finale.

Now, curtain is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. But this is theatre, folks, so something has to go wrong.

It’s 10:08. We are (still) waiting for our keyboard player to arrive for the final run-through. We futz about, but cannot get the air conditioning to work. It’s growing downright tropical in the room and I’m starting to sweat through my “No Refunds” t-shirt. Droplets of moisture dance across the plastic-covered eye holes of my Macy’s bag.

It’s now 10:11 and we are also waiting for one no-show little girl. Rehearsal continues without her and the keyboard player, but my thoughts are pounding. My armpits are now a rainforest; my head, a jackhammer.

Strangely, right at this moment, I recall an old joke:

Seems a famous Revolutionary War general had an unusual habit. Believing that morale would fail if his troops saw him bleeding and thus wanting to hide his blood at all costs, he would call his assistant to him on the morning of battle, yelling:

“William …. bring me my RED pants!”

Well, on the morning of what he knows will be a decisive battle, the general looks out his window. Horrified at the vast ocean of enemy troops before him, realizing defeat is certain, in his loudest, tremblingest voice, he bellows:

“WILLIAM …. BRING ME MY BROWWNNN PANNNTS!”

Just then, the thick pounding in my head thins out to a high, pathetic whine: Where is my William? Where are my brown pants?

I snap, go kamikaze. Little Miss No-Show is out. But she has a line in the show. I need a Go-To Kid and pronto. I march up to one of the boys who is not beastly and practically bark at him:

“Jack, do you think you can do Jessica’s line?”

His eyes blaze.

“Oh, yes, Mrs. Tracey! I can do it!”

“Okay. Great. Uh, do you think you know the line?”

He says he does. He’s sure he does. I ask him to recite it for me. He’s not even close. I’m creeping ever closer to that brown pants moment. I feel another bark coming on, but it’s not Jack’s fault. Swiftly, I try to remix the bitter blend of words brewing in my head to something that will go down more smoothly, a bit of verbal hot chocolate with puffy marshmallows:

“Okaaay, Jack. We-elll, why don’t you try saying this instead?”

Bypassing that the line was completely wrong, I simply feed him the correct one, hoping I sound human. It’s a very short line, 5 words. We run the scene so he can try it. He gets it wrong. We run it again. Sweet Lord, it’s worse. The edges of his face redden and are quickly smushed under his pudgy, dough-boy hands. He stands there for a split second and then …..

We haaavvve a GUSHER!

It’s now 10:23. My Go-To Kid just might be gone, unless I can stop the gushing. Our pianist has finally arrived, but is now waiting for us, surveying this gentle scene of calm and control. And all the other kids, watching poor Jack blub, suddenly become like a pack of hunting hounds excitedly surrounding the fallen prey. I swear they smell blood, because they rush me, clamoring like the good, compassionate, Christian kiddies that they are:

“Can I have that line?!”

“Mrs. Tracey, I can do it!”

“No, I wanna have it!”

“Give it to meeeeee!!”

ARRRGGGHH!!

WILLIAMM …… BRRINNGG MEEE MY BROWWNN PANNTS!!

to be continued …..

August 4, 2005

-image-stage fright

Ohdearohdearohdearohdearohdearohdearohdear.

Tomorrow is the draahhhma camp finale — our little musicale production.

(The whole saga began here. Continued here. Induced traumatic flashback here. And fell flat here.)

But 30 sweaty hours, 16 wanna-be “actors,” 14 drama queens (of both sexes), 9 unruly boys, countless bossy parents, and 1 floor roller later, the day is finally here.

So I will sport my “No Refunds” t-shirt and plop a paper bag over my head. I will cut eye holes in a Macy’s bag this very evening and then cover them with clear plastic, so I can both see through the bag and vomit into it, if need be. I will offer no explanation, because I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.

I will storm the gates of heaven and implore the God of theatre to make that little floor roller stop twiddling around on his arse. And tomorrow, I will tell that vexing boy what I’ve longed to tell him for two weeks now: that he is a beastly, beastly boy, that Jesus doesn’t like floor rollers and that if he puts his little arse on that floor one more time when he is not supposed to, he will KNOW MY WRATH!

But no matter what may go horribly awry, there’s always my secret favorite moment in the show and it’s a sure thing. I know I can count on The Kid. Because The Kid is unstoppable.

It happens during “Day by Day,”a melodically insipid little number that tries one’s patience. But The Kid is magic. Now it’s hard to stand out in such a tame, cotton candy chorus, unless, of course, you do what The Kid does. With unmatched gusto, he and his lungs are front and center:

“ooooooOOOOOOHHHHhhhhh, deeeeEEEEEAAAAaaaarrrr LooooOOOOORRRdddd, THREE THINGS I prrraaaAAAAAyy!!!

He wails, he moans, he positively yowls, all in brilliant, ear-splitting bedlam.

My Co-Director approached me about The Kid the other day.

“Should we tell The Kid to tone it down?”

“Absolutely not,” I replied. “He’s the only one keeping that thing afloat.”

“He’s terrible,” she said.

“I know. That’s the beauty of it. It’s wildly entertaining.”

She squinched her brow at me. Maybe I seemed inconsistent, not my usual stickler for standards. But, look, The Kid is not going to sing that song any better any time soon. Clearly, he is crazy for it in a way that no one else is. And if a child is howling, crying out to his Lord, who am I to try to quench the Holy Spirit? I don’t need that trouble. Besides, without The Kid and his beautiful braying, a dreary song gets only drearier, becoming the ultimate, awful sugar crash.

So maybe there’s a time for standards and a time for relaxing those standards for something silly and grand:

The happy little accident of The Kid being a kid. The sheer comic whimsy of it all.

So when that song comes and he does his thing, I’m sure I’ll smile and secretly say, “Good for you, Kid.”

I might even take the bag off my head.

August 2, 2005

-image-I might start drinking

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Lazy, lazy blogger. What with all the celebratin’, I needed a break. Plus, I’ve got a case of the draahhhma camp blues. Our little show is Friday and, well, it could be rough.

Here’s what’s been scene and heard around camp lately:

— Another entitlement conversation with a parent that ended with “Fancy wants a bigger part. She’s very good. What can WE do about it?”

(Fancy is NOT very good. Fancy is adorable, but spooks when spoken to, never speaks above a whisper and WEEEE are not going to do ANYTHING about it!)

— The parent of Little Girl With Floozy Makeup grilling me about whether “the camp is good enough for her daughter.” Turn that question around, Mummy.

— My rapid transformation into the Simon Cowell of Kiddie Drama.

— One little girl telling me she has to stand still during the dance numbers because she has “way too many boo boos on my toes.”

— Needing to remind one little boy EVERY DAY to fight the urge to lie down in the middle of a song.

— Having one girl who has a new suggestion every five minutes — “She should wear red” “What if we all twirled like this?” “How about if we’re all barefoot?” “I could choreograph that part, if you want.” I guess what she really wants to do is direct.

— Having one little boy who follows me around constantly. Conversations go like this:

“Mrs. Tracey, look at my hair!”

His hair is perfectly normal.

“Wow!” I say. “It’s pretty neat.”

“Yeah.”

OR

“Mrs. Tracey, I found this on the floor!”

It’s the chewed lid of a pen.

“Can I keep it?!”

“Oh, it looks a little chewed up, hon. Just throw it away, please.”

He appears to go to the trash can. I’m distracted by other things. Later:

“Brandon, what’s that in your mouth?”

“It’s that thing I found on the floor. I like it. I decided to keep it.”

OR

“Mrs. Tracey, feel my heartbeat.”

I do, gingerly. It’s beating like a normal heart.

“Wow! Feel that.”

“I just ran really, really fast.”

He didn’t.

“You did? Good for you.”

“Yeah.”

OR

“Mrs. Tracey, do you see my shoe?”

“Yes, ” I say, waiting for what’s coming next.

Nothing does.

So I’m a little tired. As is this post. You know the feeling. 😉

July 30, 2005

-image-you’re never fully dressed without some bile

A few years ago, my then-co-director at draahhhma camp insisted we include the song, “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” from that perky piece of rot, “Annie.”

“Kids love that song!” she said.

I winced. It is true, but shouldn’t be. I sighed, knowing I couldn’t nix everything, even if for the good of everyone involved.

“Okay.” Groaning, head in hands, I muttered, “Just this once.”

So, one day at camp, Co-Director, who was also choreographer, was teaching the moves to the kids. I was working a scene in another room with our leads. When I returned, the room was simply gushing with lyrics of soppy positivity.

I rolled my eyes, but instantly rolled them back to center when I saw this: A stage crammed with kids, all waving their hands under their noses, as if shooing away some vile stench. While doing this bit of choreography, they boomed these words:

Your clothes may be Beau Brummell-y
They stand out a mile
But, brother, you’re never fully dressed without a smile!

What was I seeing? I called Co-Director over.

“Um, I’m not really clear on the hand-wave-under-the-nose move.”

“Oh,” she said, smiling, “that means something stinks.”

“Well …. uh, I know what it means. I don’t understand its relevance to these lyrics.”

(Tippy-Toe, Tracey. Stay calm, old girl. Don’t jump yet.)

“Oh,” she said, even brighter, “‘Beau Brummelly’ means ‘smelly.'”

Aaaaaahhhhh!

I was falling, shrieking, into the lowest level of hell. And turns out, they sing there. And do you know what they sing there? “ANNIE,” “ANNIE,” ALL THE TIME!!!!!

“Where did you hear that?” I was choking.

“Well,” she said, “when I did ‘Annie’ years ago at (a certain schlocky Christian theatre for which I have nothing but contempt), they told us that ‘Beau Brummelly’ means ‘smelly.'”

Ah, Christians. Doing their best in the arts again. Look. Being under grace is not a license for slack-assery. And truly, didn’t Paul say something similar? Shall we continue in artistic sin so that grace may abound? By no means!

I was having a private, Charlie Brown moment: I can’t stand it. I just can’t stand it.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that gaggle of kids onstage perfecting the hand-wave-under-the-nose move.

That was it.
Something had to be said. “Art” and my own perpetual snobbery demanded it.

“Ah. No. No.”

“It doesn’t?”

“No.”

“So what does it mean?” she asked, not smiling now.

I took a breath and explained that Beau Brummell was a real person who lived in England around 1800-ish; that he was known for his fastidious appearance and sense of style; that he was considered a “dandy.”

“Oh. Hmm. Wow. Kinda the opposite of smelly, I guess.”

I nodded.

I can’t stand it. I just can’t stand it.

July 28, 2005

-image-I thought / I said

Yesterday at the end of drahma camp, came this conversation:

Mother: Trevor is very upset. He says he’s NOT in the play!

(I Thought: Trevor is being a little drama queen.)
I Said: Trevor is in the play.

Mother: He says he’s not. He doesn’t have any lines.

(I Thought: Yup. That’s right. This is theatre; you gotta earn it.)
I Said: Well, no, he doesn’t have any lines. The kids were told they needed to audition if they wanted a speaking part or solo. Trevor didn’t audition, but he’s definitely in the show.

Mother: Well, I can’t believe that. He loves this sort of thing.

(I Thought: Huh. Funny, I did NOT get that sense from his constant rolling on the floor.)
I Said: Well, that’s great. I’m sure he does. It would be great to see a little more of that.

Mother: Well, can’t you just give him a line anyway?

(I Thought: NO.)
I Said: I believe all the lines are taken by kids who auditioned for a speaking part.

Mother: So he can’t have a line?

(I Thought: NO! I’M NOT IN THE HABIT OF GIVING SOMETHING FOR NOTHING HERE, ESPECIALLY TO A KID WHO’S DONE NOTHING BUT ROLL AROUND ON HIS ARSE AND BEEN NOTHING BUT A PAIN IN MINE.)
I Said: Well, if one of the lines becomes available, I’d likely hold “mini auditions” for it, so there’s always that possibility.

Mother: Well, he’s just so upset.
(I Thought: !?#%@??!!!!!!)
I Said: Well, perhaps you can talk to him tonight about why he chose not to audition and encourage him to do so if another opportunity comes up.

I moved my mouth, hoping to find the shape of a smile. I don’t think I did. Mother stared at me, confused; walked away, confused. I could read her mind:

“What?! I don’t get what I want just because I want it, I really, REALLY want it?! Waaaahhhh!!!”

Whatever.

Drama queens.

July 25, 2005

-image-“if you can’t act, behave!”

Can I say this? I rather dread the first day of drama camp.

And today was the first day of drama camp.

There’s always far too much drahhma.

There’s always The Poor, Fretful Chile who didn’t choose camp; it was chosen for her. Not sure which one she is? Oh, well, she’s the one coming unglued over in the corner. And is that her mother with her, consoling her? Nope, that’s me, trying to brainwash this child into believing that “drama camp will be fun, fun, fun and it’s just the ticket for a jittery kid like you!!”

Then there’s always The Bratty Boy; the boy that says, “Ewww. There aren’t any boys at this camp, only girls. Ewwww. I don’t wanna do this. Ewwww. This SUCKS.” So where is Bratty Boy now? Oh, he’s lying down over there in another corner. Guess he’s just plumb tuckered out from all that participatin’ he’s doin’. Or he’s drunk. Frankly, I’d rather he lie there with the DTs than bother the rest of camp.

Then there’s always The Little Girl in Floozy Makeup, the one whose naturally beautiful, shining face has been frosted and glossed and rouged past innocence into a macabre Pretty Baby rainbow. So where is our little rainbow now? Well, I wish I could say she was in the bathroom with a washcloth, making the world right again, but, alas, she’s loudly centerstage, frosty and glossy and rougey.

Of course, there’s always The Parent Who Never Leaves, the one who can’t separate or won’t separate or won’t let the child separate or some other combination of raging parent/child emeshment. Interesting. It’s usually the little rainbow’s mom.

Then there’s always The Parent Who Treats You Like A Babysitter: “See this stuff here? Well, that’s Baby’s overnight bag. She’s spending the night with Lulu, so can you see that Lulu’s mom gets this stuff, hmmm? And (eyeing our Goldfish and pretzels suspiciously) these are Baby’s special snack-ums. I want her to have some healthy snacks, so can you please give her these Salmon-Crusted Wheat Germy Soy Sticks, hmmm?” Interesting. It’s usually the mom of the sickliest looking kid at camp.

Then there’s always, always The Parent Who Cross-Examines You About Why Little Blandranelle Didn’t Get The Part She Desperately Wanted — And Do You Know She Cried All Day and All Night, Too?!

But then, ah, then, there’s always The Boy Who’s My Hero, the one who is sure enough about his emerging masculinity that he can go to football camp or baseball camp or basketball camp and STILL come to drama camp. And where is this boy, you ask? Well, he’s the one onstage right now, fearlessly leading the charge before all the other boys and getting up to audition, opinions be damned.

Finally, perhaps best of all, there’s always The Kid With Grace, the truly talented one who didn’t get the part she’d hoped for, because, much as you’d like, you can’t give every kid the lead, can’t make every theatre dream come true. So where can one find this Kid With Grace? Well, she’s the one on the phone with me now, listening as I offer her the choice of two other parts, neither the part, but still oh-so-important. And she’s the one hiding her disappointment with a poise belying her tender years. And she’s the one who breaks your heart when, again, you ask which part she prefers and she says, “Well, which choice would make it easier for YOU to do the best possible show? That’s the part I want.”

Come to think of it, dread is not the right word. Not the right word at all.

July 20, 2005

-image-finished … in so many ways

I finished my kinderwerk last night. I managed to incorporate the word “gassy” into this epic theatrical piece, but other than that, I’d prefer not to talk about it.

Suffice to say that I’ll be wearing my “No Refunds” T-shirt on August 5th, performance day. It says everything I might need to say:

Parent: Yeah, Tracey …. um, we didn’t like the part where —

The T-shirt: (interrupting) No Refunds.

Parent: Uh, Tracey, yeah …. my little Dorabella really wanted a solo and —

The T-shirt: (annoyed, now) No Refunds.

Parent: Yes. Um, can you explain why my kid said the word ‘gassy,’ because —

The T-shirt: (fed up wich’you) NOREFUNDS!

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