Wednesday, March 1, 2017

They Told Me There Would Be No Acting*

One of the multitude of excuses perfectly rational and reasonable reasons I have for being absent from this space for so long is that a couple of months ago I totally and completely lost my everlovin' mind agreed to sing in an opera.

Yes. You read that right: I agreed to sing in an opera.

"But MomQueenBee," you are saying right now, "don't you have a really terrible voice? I have sat in front of you in church and only Christian charity has kept me from shushing you and tying a preventive Ace bandage over your mouth before the next hymn."

And you would not be wrong about that assessment. I have a truly terrible voice, but what I have are pretty-darned-good sight-reading skills and a Puritanical compulsion to show up for rehearsals. Apparently those two qualities are all that are needed to be recruited for the chorus of a Gilbert & Sullivan production on the campus of Small College, so when I got the invitation I agreed with one caveat:

"I will not act," I told the organizer. "I'll buy my own score, I'll show up at every rehearsal, I'll bring my pretty-darned-good sight-reading skills, but I won't emote."

To which the director replied, "Oh, no! No acting from the chorus, please. No, no, no. No acting."

Now, three days before the curtain goes up on The Sorcerer, I'm here to report that opera directors may have voices that shiver glassware but their truth-telling skills are abysmal. I realized that when the following sentence came from his mouth:

"What we're going to want the chorus to do is pretend to be ghosts."

Say what now? Doesn't pretend=acting?

Me: "But you said there would be no acting!"

Him: "This isn't acting. This is pretending to be ghosts. Acting means walking around the stage and involves blocking."

Pfffft. That po-tay-to is a po-tah-to. I will not actually BE a ghost, so I will be ACTING like a ghost.

ACTING. And I don't know how to act.

My friend Mary who stands next to me is an awesome ghost, though. She sways and waves her arms and darned if she doesn't almost scare me. And as I watched her, trying to emulate her spooky hand motions, I realized there was only one other set of people who look like this. It's just that they do their motions faster.

That's why when you come to see the opera this weekend, at the conclusion of the first act you will see one of the altos on the front row of the chorus umpiring baseball in slow motion.


Okay, so it doesn't look precisely ghostly, but Mr. Opera Director, it's as close as I'm going to get.

You told me there would be no acting.

*Some day this will be the title of my autobiography.

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