Acting is something I’ve always wanted to do more of, so when I learned about an opportunity in Raleigh, NC, my husband and I applied. There must not have been many responses, because we were chosen to take part in an evening of entertainment at an exclusive country club.
I should have known that night was doomed, because things went wrong from the be- ginning. Rick and I kept waiting for information concerning our roles, but none came. Then the day before our performance, I was asked to work late, and I also worked all day Saturday. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time we arrived at the club that evening, straight from my job. Nevertheless, I tried to muster some energy for our exciting debut as real actors.
The building was enormous, and we were ushered past several kitchens and dining rooms until reaching the area where the banquet would take place. Already over-whelmed, we later learned we would be performing for Mensa-type government employees. I definitely felt out of place. The two guys who hired us ($50 each and supper) showed up, and the leader (let’s call him Dodger) seemed to shoot darts at us with his eyes. He was angry. Angry that we didn’t know our parts, angry that we didn’t respond to his email requesting confirmation that we were coming, and angry that he broke his hand in a car accident the day before.
His partner, Henry, was in a better mood, but he was surprised that we didn’t get the script. We felt we had done our part and didn’t deserve the thrashing Dodger seemed to give us with his mind and countenance, and I hoped things would get better when we wowed him with our acting. The only reason we had any idea what to do is that we saw basically the same mystery dinner skit at the beach the summer before. We’d come up with ideas for our roles that we shared with the guys. They talked through the scene with us, then we met the only bright spot of the evening: George. The group coming that night worked for his company, and he was relaxed and friendly.
When the performance began, I tried to stay in character, even though George’s wife kept talking to me at the dinner table. She was a nice person, and I wanted to speak normally with her, but I was supposed to cause a scene during the meal. (I hope I didn’t hurt her feelings.) After pretending to ingest poison, I twirled around in a dance, grabbing my throat before “dying,” but I don’t think the sophisticated group appreciated my perfor- mance. As I was dragged out of the room, supposedly dead, my pants had a velcro rela- tionship with the carpeting. I only had a moment to shift the pressure to my heels, and was relieved to reach the hallway, where I could take a deep breath.
Feeling unsuccessful about my venture, I drowned my frustrations in the delicious food the staff served in the green room, listening to Rick as he struggled through his lines. I knew he had a ketchup packet in his shirt pocket to simulate blood when he was “shot.” He, too, seemed discouraged when he returned, but we enjoyed talking with George, who was up next. He placed a fake knife on his stomach, burst through the dining room doors, and we heard an explosion of laughter and screams from the guests. Listening to his muffled voice along with Dodger’s and Henry’s, we could tell the audience was right with them. What in the world?
Of course! He was the president of the company and their boss! They had to react for him. Also, seeing someone they knew coming through the door like that probably sur- prised them enough to cause a huge response. Dodger and Henry came into the green room with George, laughing and getting along famously, and Dodger said to George, “You were good!”
So there was a way to reach these people after all. I felt about two inches high–especially since no one told Rick or me anything good about our performances. But we couldn’t have been that bad. We’d both had lines and singing and dancing parts in plays, and I’d been an extra in a movie. If we’d received the script, it probably would’ve helped, but I realized that night that acting can be just as stressful and unpleasant as other jobs. But hey–at least we got our $100 and two free meals.