When asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up my response was one of two things: famous or a farmers wife. Sometimes I threw both of them in to see the people’s response. Yes, I wanted to be famous. I remember the day that acting fame, my most desired of all kinds of fame, slipped away and lay dying on the floor of my high school auditorium.
He was a kook. The drama teacher always directed the plays. Our theater was state of the art. Traveling acting troupes would use the stage. The city boasted of the wonders of this renovation. Naturally the man took all things performance very seriously. The scenes he made when he got flustered at our mediocrity in class and stormed out of the room were fit for any high-school comedy movie. You just never knew what to expect.
Auditions had been held for the next production. There were usually two or three major ones throughout the year. The cast list had not yet been posted. Rumors were flying about who we thought would get the parts. A handful of talented students usually got the leads. I hung out with them, but always held a fringe position in the clique. After drama class one afternoon the teacher pulled me aside. I did not expect what he asked of me.
“I want you to show me two different voices,” was the request.
“Like two accents? Or two different ways to say the same thing?” I sought clarification.
“Two distinct characters with two different voices,” he said.
I froze. Worrying I would disappoint paralyzed me. Stutters and false starts made my heart race. Finally I gave up.
“I can’t do it,” I said. The look on his face was smug to my nervous eyes. Without another word we parted ways.
For the rest of the day I beat myself silly because I couldn’t get my act together. It would not be until practices started that I would understand the gravity of my crumbling that day.
The cast list was posted and all the regular players were on the top. The date practices would start was followed by an invitation to any and all who would like to be part of the crew. As had been the case in all previous performances (except one when I danced in the Wizard of Oz at the back corner of the stage for less than five minutes) I helped with the crew. Once again I was the prop girl.
Still, I got to be at most of the practices. I loved it! Being there was so much fun. I watched them run lines and learn how to put on a good show. One certain scene shed light on the interaction I had with my teacher. He stood with one of the lead actresses and told her that she needed to make each character distinct. Her role was that of a spy who was disguised in order to solve a murder case. So she had to play both parts. That was the role the teacher was trying to see if I could do. I knew right then that I had blown it.
At the end of my senior year we had a mini-oscars amongst those in the drama circle. I was awarded ‘Best Proppie Ever’. All my hours of scouring mildewy thrift shops for the best period furniture at a cheap price had paid off. All my running around town to the flee markets for multiple sets of china to be crashed and broken each night of the show had not been for naught. Finding the perfect pipe tucked away in the corner of an antique shop was worth it.
For years that regret of a missed opportunity hung over my head. I am over it now. It wasn’t meant to be.
Funny thing, though, once a proppie, always a proppie. Who knew that as a pastor’s wife my prop girl skills would be called upon? My husband and I spent this last week putting together a new stage for church. It was fun. We got to collaborate in the painting, design, and creation. We are pretty happy with the results. This was the third one this year. So far we have done: a construction zone, a bank and now a living room / coffee shop set. This series will last twelve more weeks and we have already started to think about our next set design.
To be clear, DaRonn’s degree in marketing has been helpful in this design endeavor as well. I would be remiss in leading you to believe that this was all my doing. It really is a joint effort.
(The images can be seen larger by clicking on them.)